Destination PNW: Franklin Falls
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This post comes to us from nature expert and Northwest native, Lauren Haule.
Lace up your hiking boots and enter the Pacific Northwest’s waterfall wonderland…
It’s no surprise given the surrounding mountain ranges that there is an abundance of waterfalls within the Pacific Northwest. Some of these falls are not easily accessible, but there are more within reach than one might think. Franklin Falls is one such destination, and one of my personal favorites for a pleasant day hike.
Located only 45 min east of Seattle in the Mt. Baker — Snoqualmie National Forest — Franklin Falls trail is designed for hikers of all ages and experience levels. At only a 2-mile round trip and 400 ft elevation, reaching the waterfall is much less strenuous than expected. Open year-round, this hike brings about treasures for all seasons, from the refreshing splash pool at the base of the falls in the summer, to the incredible ice formations in the winter. Consisting of three tiers totaling 135 feet, the largest fall is the only viewable drop from the trail, but at a spectacular 70 ft that you can get right up to and even swim underneath, it’s more than worth the walk.
Upon entering at the trailhead you are immediately engulfed beneath a canopy of old cedars, and lured in by the sound of rushing water. Over the first third of the hike you can make your way down to the edge of the clear creek to relax on rocks and take in the sounds of nature.
Along the way, several ancient trees leave you with a childlike sense of wonder, while the opposing and perhaps most surprising element of fallen trees fills your view. Adding another layer to the dense forest, their moss-covered trunks blend in and out of sight among the deer ferns and skunk cabbage. Their weathered bark lays over the floor like a soft blanket, playing against the small dwarf dogwood buds, mushrooms and streams that peek up from underneath.
As you meander through the well-maintained trail, the water is never far, like a soothing whisper leading your way up the river. There are picture worthy scenes to take in as you climb higher, all safely marked and fenced along steep drops. The walk is tranquil, fit for a leisurely pace where you can recognize the seemingly endless large leafed Devil’s club among other native plants. Though not native, the neutralized foxglove grows close to the waterfall, making for a brilliant color bomb against the rocky cliff when you enter the main event.
As you make your final descent down the jagged steps left slippery from the misty falls, it’s understandable why this small oasis is so popular. If only all of nature’s treasures were so easily enjoyed.