Upper Wallace Falls Hike Review
- Hiked: mid-November
- Distance from Seattle: 1 hour
- Length: 5.5 miles round trip
- Difficulty: 4/10
- Crowds: 5/10
- Trail views: 6/10
- Water features: 9/10
- Overall: 7.5/10
Other trail notes: The park requires a Discover Pass, which can be purchased at the parking lot as a single-use day pass for $10 or a year-long pass for $30. The parking lot wasn’t full, but could easily be at capacity on a summer day with only 107 spaces.
Visiting Wallace Falls State Park
It’s November, and the winter weathers have descended in Washington. This past weekend, I wanted to go for a hike that met a few basic requirements:
- No snow on the roadways (I don’t have chains or cables yet)
- Minimal snow on the trail, to avoid concerns about getting lost
- Doable in a few hours, keeping in mind early sunset
- Forested for rain protection
Wallace Falls State Park checked every single box: it was too low elevation for snow to be on the roadways right now; the trail itself was snow-free according to AllTrails; it is under 6 miles round trip from parking lot to upper falls; dogs are welcome on leashes; and almost the entire trail is in the woods. And, it’s only one hour from Seattle! It’s really hard to beat.
Driving to the trailhead was easy, and unlike many of the hikes I’ve done, there are multiple small towns along the way (and cheaper gas prices there than in Seattle). The trail starts off as a gravel path crossing under power lines. Then you quickly hit the forest, and the majority of the hike is under the cover of the canopy. No incredible mountain vistas to be found here, but the water views make up for that! There are multiple areas where you can appreciate the water up-close along the trail.
It’s a gentle uphill trail that meanders along the river for the first mile or so. Then it cuts up a bit more sharply, with a break in the forest for a quick valley overlook vista point before you make the ascent to the main waterfall viewing area.
The trail was moderately busy on my hike in and my return out, but I was surprised it wasn’t more crowded, given its close proximity to Seattle. Also, many areas were less accessible due to the snow storm that had just passed through the region. As a solo hiker, I was comfortable with the amount of other hikers on the trail.
Left: The trail had areas that looked totally carpeted by moss. Right: As the trail continues to climb, there are more wooden stairs.
On the way down from the hike, I stopped at the small falls near the .5 mile mark, and it was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. With the bigger waterfalls, the cliffs are dangerous, so you’re appreciating the view from behind a substantial wooden fence. With these falls, you could get up right close to the water safely and enjoy the rushing water. Don’t miss it!
If you haven’t made it up to Wallace Falls State Park, it’s certainly worth a visit.