You don’t need to hike far to see beautiful waterfalls in Washington. We have lovely cascades around every corner and many of them can be reached by a short hike that goes for three miles or less round-trip. Some aren’t even really a hike at all, rather just a short nature walk in the great outdoors. Try taking on some of these easy trails across the state if you (or something you’re with) is new to hiking, or you just don’t feel like going on a long and strenuous venture.
1. Franklin Falls
Total length: 2 miles, round-trip
Ahh, Franklin Falls. This waterfall is a real stunner, and it’s only about a mile hike through Snoqualmie’s lush forest to see it. The trail leads up to a rocky area where you can walk up-close to the falls and feel the cool mist spraying off. A lot of people consider the cascade to be hiding in plain sight, just beneath the roadway of I-90. You can also pair this hike with the nearby Snow Lake for a perfect day trip out of Seattle.
2. Madison Creek Falls
Total length: 0.2 of a mile, round-trip
Madison Creek Falls is incredibly easy to reach on the Olympic Peninsula, just west of Port Angeles. The path to the 50-foot falls is short and sweet, at only 0.2 of a mile round-trip, and it’s also paved & wheelchair accessible.
3. Marymere Falls
Total length: 1.8 miles, round-trip
Marymere Falls is another easy waterfall hike on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s just off Highway 101, south of Lake Crescent, and can be reached by a short 1.8 mile trail through tall ancient forest. The falls look stunning in photos of course, but the 90-foot drop always seems so much taller (and even more beautiful) in person.
4. Panther Creek Falls
Total length: 0.5 mile, round-trip
Panther Creek Falls is like something from Middle Earth, but it’s actually right here in Washington within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From the parking area, it’s only a half-mile walk through the woods to reach a viewpoint that overlooks the water dropping 136 feet in two tiers. For a closer view, you can also take a rougher path to the base of the falls, but it’s often muddy and much more dangerous in the rainy season.
5. Rocky Brook Falls
Total length: Less than 0.1 a mile, round-trip
When we said some of these are just easy nature walks, we really weren’t kidding. Rocky Brook Falls is one of the Olympic Peninsula’s tallest and most impressive falls, and it’s only a 200-yard stroll to reach it. Plus, when the weather gets warmer, you can go for a dip in the rocky pool at the bottom which serves as a popular swimming hole during the summer.
6. Narada Falls
Total length: 0.1 of a mile (but can connect to longer routes)
Narada Falls is one of Mount Rainier National Park’s most dazzling waterfalls, and it’s only about 0.1 mile walk from the parking lot down to see it. But if you’re looking to get more of a hike in, you can also continue from here to Reflection Lakes and get views of our iconic mountain reflecting in alpine water.
7. Nooksack Falls
Total length: About 1.2 miles, round-trip
If you’re driving the Mount Baker Highway, stop and check out Nooksack Falls just off Milepost 40. It’s an easy, short hike from the parking lot down to a viewing point where you can get a glimpse of this powerful falls dropping into a deep rocky gorge.
8. Whatcom Falls
Total length: Varies, 3.5 miles or less
Whatcom Falls is the main draw of Bellingham’s Whatcom Falls Park, but there are actually four cascades you can see here. About three-and-a-half miles of trails loop across the park, some through forest, and others through beautiful open meadows. Or, if you don’t feel like hiking much, you can just walk out to the lovely moss-covered stone bridge near the parking area for a perfect viewpoint overlooking the falls.
What are some of your favorite waterfall hikes in Washington? We’d love to hear your trail recommendations below.