Some are just an easy hike away, others require a bit more effort; all reward you with spectacular views.
Summer’s wrapped up here in the Pacific Northwest, so you’ve probably already been getting out into the great outdoors for hikes and sightseeing. With all the great weather we’ve had, maybe you’ve already made it through your list of reliable hikes and cool outdoor destinations and are looking for something a little different. If you feel like adding a few special destinations to your list, especially as we head into fall and winter, why not go searching for one of the many hidden waterfalls in our region? Here are a few favorites to find scattered throughout Washington – and one in B.C. if you’re really ready to get out of your comfort zone!
Hog Canyon Falls
This waterfall near Spokane is actually on private land, but you can get a great view from public land by hiking along the shore of Hog Canyon Lake. Drive to the trailhead or to the boat launch on the lake. “These falls can be the perfect solution for a rainy-day road trip,” says Jordyn Fleming, at Northwest Motorsport. “The drive across the glacier-carved land is breathtaking.”
Once you get your fill of the rushing falls – go in fall or early winter for the most surging water – jump back on I-90 to Highway 94 to get to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, where you can drive, hike or bike through to see wildlife unique geological features.
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If you take Comet Falls trail at Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll actually get to see more than one waterfall, but the real prize is the gushing falls the trail is named for at the end of the nearly 2-mile hike. About 1.2 miles in there’s a moderately technical crib ladder to get you over a rock face, so even though it’s relatively short, this one isn’t for the unseasoned hiker. This trail winds in and out of trees and offers views of Bloucher Falls and Christine Falls as well as you go.
Looking for a waterfall a little closer to the city? Try Teneriffe Falls, on the outskirts of North Bend, sometimes also called Kamikaze Falls. It’s popular, so give it a shot early. “It’s close enough to Seattle that you could jet up before work if you’re a really early morning person,” says Fleming of Northwest Motorsport. This one is good if you’re looking for a workout, as the 6-mile round trip trail will have you gain more than 1,500 feet in elevation, mostly toward the end on steep switchbacks. If you’re making a day of it and get off the trail in time for lunch, head toward Small Fryes in Fall City to refill all those calories you burned seeking out this waterfall. (Note: May want to save this one for later this fall or even next spring when we’ve had more rainfall.)
Panther Creek Falls
Looking for a hidden gem of a waterfall without having to hike a long, difficult trail? This is the spot for you. Panther Creek Falls, outside Carson, Washington, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is just a half-mile round trip, but the gorgeous veil-like falls will still take your breath away. Plus, if you take the short hike, you’ll have plenty of time to break it out on the back roads. You can extend the trip by finding your way south to Mount Hood for even more beautiful driving and exploring.
Depot Creek Falls
This one’s a bit of a cheat, it’s not technically here in Washington, but it’s pretty darn close! Depot Creek Falls is tucked in the southwest corner of British Columbia just north of the North Cascade National Park. This is also the waterfall on the list that will take the most time and effort to find – more of a climb than a hike. “Plan on staying the night here; the early morning glowing light is not to be missed,” says Fleming. The long hike in will get you to a waterfall made up of runoff from three glaciers on the face of Mount Redoubt that plunge down bedrock and vertically about 1,600 feet total in length. Plan this trip and the route you want to take to these hidden falls well in advance.
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