Since our recent move to Washington, we’re on a mission to hit all the “touristy” and heavily-trafficked trails during the winter season.
Twin Falls Trail falls into that category for us, but it’s still 100% a must see if you’re in the area.
Just 30 to 40 minutes from downtown Seattle, Twin Falls Trail is easy to get to and accessible for most hikers, with no snow or ice (even in the winter), making it an incredibly popular PNW adventure for alllll.
It’s a moderate hiking trail that ends with numerous viewpoints of Twin Falls, a 132-ft double-section waterfall with stunning blue-green water flowing year-round. Along the way, you’ll get to enjoy gradual inclines with just a few steep sections, numerous views, and easy access for a refreshing swim in the Snoqualmie River during the summer.
Whether you live nearby or are just passing through, this quick day-trip is an excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy Mother Nature.
Twin Falls Trail Info & Highlights
- Type: Out and back
- Features: 132 ft waterfall
- Length: 3.6 miles
- Elevation Gain: 967 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Time Required: 2 to 2.5 hours
- Required Pass: Discover Pass
- Location: Olallie State Park
- Pet-Friendly: Yes!
- Alltrails Link: Open the map
The trail and scenery are beautiful from the very beginning and the hike is also decently accessible for families (and happy puppers dying to say hello!).
As such, it’s usually very crowded on the weekends even if the weather isn’t super great. I recommend getting there nice and early or going on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Speaking of weather, the trail can be a little wet, muddy, and slippery in places depending on when you go. You may also do a bit of scrambling over wet rocks if you want to get close to or swim in the river. So, don’t forget your waterproof shoes (or hiking sandals in the summer)!
Our Experience – January 2021
This is the first new trail we explored after moving to Washington at the beginning of January. Dalton and I didn’t know what to expect hiking in the winter, but one thing’s for sure—it was freakin’ packed.
We got super lucky with parking near the trailhead since someone was backing out right when we pulled up. We got there around 11 AM and noticed dozens (if not 50+) cars parked alongside the road but figured we’d go a bit closer to scope things out. You may not get as lucky as we did, so keep that in mind when calculating mileage.
After parking, I took a quick potty break and we headed out.
The trailhead was super easy to find and we noticed a little kiosk nearby where you can buy a Discover Pass if you don’t already have one.
We took about fifty steps and could already see the gorgeous river to the right of the trail. It’s seriously beautiful, especially if you get a nice sunny day like we did!
All in all, the trail was amazing and a good workout, without being overly difficult or steep. It’s well-maintained but be prepared for lots of company (some of which may not be wearing masks and respecting social distancing—woooooomp).
What Gear Do You Need to Hike Twin Falls Trail?
Since the trail is so short and only takes a few hours, you don’t need any expensive gear to hike Twin Falls Trail. This is true even in the winter, which is one of the reasons this trail gets so many visitors.
With that said, it does get very wet in the winter and waterproof hiking shoes or boots are a smart idea. Not only does this keep your feet dry, but it also helps support and stabilize your ankles as you make your way over the rocky and root-filled terrain.
Here are our tried and true waterproof footwear recommendations:
- Boots for women — Merrell Ontario Mids (I love mine!)
- Shoes for women — Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
- Trail runners for women — Salomon Speedcross 5W
- Boots for men — Danner Mountain 600 Full-Grains (Dalton loves his!)
- Shoes for men — Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof
- Trail runners for men — Merrell Trail Glove 4 Runners
We haven’t hiked the trail in the warmer months, but I imagine hiking sandals are sufficient when it’s not cold and wet.
I’m a big fan of Z1 Classic Sport Sandals and Mega Z Cloud Sandals (both available in men’s and women’s!) by Chaco. Pro-tip: the Mega Z’s are on sale as of 2/3/21! I’ve had both pairs for several years now and they’re super comfortable + durable.
Plus, you can even wear them in the river if ya decide to go for a swim.
Since there are plenty of opportunities to get wet throughout the trail in the winter, we also recommend smartly layering your winter hiking pants.
This includes choosing the right baselayer, softshell pants, and hardshell pants to keep you dry when you want to stay dry. Smart layering means you can take layers off as you go and put them back on when you stop to rest, thus regulating your temperature far better than a single pair of waterproof or insulated pants.
If you prefer hiking with a backpack to carry your extra layers and gear you’re not using, check out our list of the top hiking backpacks under $100! Whether you’re ballin’ on a budget or just getting into hiking, you’re sure to find the perfect pack without breaking the bank (a few are even less than $25!).
Lastly, don’t forget to bring a bottle of water, some snackage (if you want), and a camera—I upgraded from the iPhone 6 (old-school, I know) to an iPhone 11 after this trip and man, oh maaaan!
A top-notch phone camera makes a WHOLE world of difference if you want to take jaw-dropping photos.
Getting to the Twin Falls Trailhead
Twin Falls is a super short 35-minute drive from downtown Seattle, making it an excellent place to go exploring for a few hours.
From Seattle, head east on I-90 until you get to exit 34. From there, you’ll turn right on 468th Ave and then left on SE 159th street (this is where we saw cars lined up foreverrrrrrr). Keep following that road and you’ll eventually hit the parking lot.
Super easy to get there and the road to the trailhead + the parking lot are in EXCELLENT condition. Saw all sorts of vehicles parked there, no 4×4 or AWD required.
- Trailhead coordinates: 47.45282, -121.70537
- Parking: There’s a decent-sized, well-maintained lot
- Facilities: Vault toilets near the trailhead
- Park pass: Discover Pass ($10 for the day or $30 for a year)
There’s a small kiosk at the trailhead you can use to buy a Discover Pass. We didn’t use it since we already have one, but it is there if you need it. Alternatively, you can buy one online and print it at home or pick one up at most grocery stores along the way.
You should definitely try to hit Twin Falls early or on a weekday to avoid the crowds. As I mentioned earlier, we got SUPER lucky with parking and got a spot right by the trailhead.
You probably won’t get the lucky unless you’re patient.
If the lot’s full, you’ll have to park about 1/2 to a mile away on SE 159th. There’s a large section of the road with no-parking signs, so be sure to respect those.
Also be sure to respect the people that live on the road by parking close to the curb, picking up ALL of your trash, and being as quiet + unobtrusive as possible while you’re walking along the road.
Twin Falls Trail Map & Waypoints
The Twin Falls Trail is straightforward with virtually no risk of getting lost or taking a wrong turn. There aren’t any intersecting trails until you get to the very end and it’s well-maintained the entire way.
After waypoint 7, there are no more views so you can happily turn around unless you’d like to add more mileage to your trek.
Pro-tip: If you’re short on time, we highly recommend going to the lower falls viewpoint (waypoint 5) at least. Stopping here makes your adventure right around 2 miles round-trip. This alternative is quick and easy without sacrificing an awesomely-rewarding view of the falls.
Want to Add More Mileage?
You can keep going past waypoint 7 to waypoint 8, which is the official end of the Twin Falls Trail. At that point, it intersects with The John Wayne Pioneer Trail.
You can either turn around here or continue on in either direction. We haven’t done this, so we have no idea if there’s anything worth seeing out there or the condition of the trails.
But there are countless miles of extra trail if you’re looking for a longer adventure.
Whenever you’re ready, you can turn around and go back the way you came to get back to the trailhead.
What to Expect When Hiking Twin Falls Trail
For the first half-mile or so you walk directly along the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. It’s relatively flat, easy, and one of the most crowded areas of the trail.
There are tons of great places to stop and take pictures, plus there are even a few little side trails you can take to get closer to the river. If you want to swim, this is definitely the easiest section to access it—if you wait until later, you’ll have to scramble a bit.
However, we decided to wait until later to get further away from the crowd. The scramble isn’t hard and you have tons of side routes to choose from.
Pro-tip: If you go off the trail, make sure you avoid vegetation and only walk on rocks or hard surfaces to help preserve the area. Stepping on plants can kill them or damage them and they could take years to grow back (if they do at all). So, don’t be that person.
After the first half-mile, you’ll leave the river (waypoint 2) and ascend roughly 500 ft in elevation over several switchbacks. There are dozens of cool rocks and plants along the way, so don’t forget to soak it all in!
At the top, you’ll see your first view of the falls (waypoint 3).
There are a few benches at the top of the ridge to take a break and look at the falls from afar. When we went, there were too many people here to comfortably stop both times we passed by.
From there, you’ll ascend another 400 ft in roughly a quarter of a mile. Then, the trail forks. If you go to the right, you’ll trek down a set of stairs to the lower falls viewpoint – our favorite (waypoint 5)! Thankfully there weren’t as many people down here so we could take our time to really enjoy the sights and sounds of the PNW.
The hike back up to the trail left us a little breathless, but it’s nothing unmanageable and it’s so worth the extra effort!
Once you get back to the trail, you’ll go right to continue along the trail. After a short, relatively flat 0.15 miles, you’ll come to a bridge that connects two sides of a canyon (waypoint 6). Here, you’re in between the upper and lower sections of Twin Falls. Because of that, you get amazing views both to your left and right.
You get a bird’s-eye view of water flowing through the canyon, which makes it an excellent photo spot. However, there were dozens of people here when we went, so we didn’t spend too much time at the bridge.
By this point, you can happily turn around if you’re feeling tired.
However, there’s one more viewpoint that’s worth the effort if you have it in you to keep going. This is the steepest part of the entire trail, so brace yourself for a short, but intense, incline for the next 0.1 mile or so.
Once reaching the upper falls viewpoint (waypoint 7), we turned around. As is noted on the trail map, there aren’t anymore spectacular views to see.
However, you can keep going if you want to add extra mileage or explore a bit more of Olallie State Park.
Leave No Trace & Trail Etiquette
As with any outdoor adventure, you should always practice proper trail etiquette and follow the Leave No Trace principles. They’re put in place to protect you, other adventurers, and the place you’re stomping around in.
So, whenever you’re exploring around Twin Falls Trail, be sure to:
- Plan ahead and prepare — ensure you’re physically and mentally prepared for the trail. Choose appropriate clothing and shoes depending on the weather and time of year. Understand your route and bring a map if there’s a risk of getting lost.
- Travel on durable surfaces — stay on the trail as often as you can. If you go off-trail to the river or to let other hikers pass, only step on packed surfaces without vegetation and rocks.
- Dispose of waste properly — pick up Spot’s poo (please) and use your backpack as a trashcan until you get to a proper trashcan. Also do not go to the restroom on the trail – you’re very close to a water source, you’ll have virtually no privacy, and there are vault toilets at the trailhead.
- Leave what you find — pretty self-explanatory. Don’t take anything out with you (unless you brought it in) and don’t mess with trees or plants.
- Minimize campfire impacts — not really an issue on this trail. Don’t start fires here.
- Respect wildlife — don’t feed animals or interact with them in any way. We didn’t see any on the trail since there are so many people around, but if you do see them, observe from a distance and leave them alone.
- Be considerate of other visitors — don’t make a lot of noise, don’t listen to loud music without headphones, and keep your pets on a leash so they don’t disturb other hikers. Oh, and give hikers going uphill the right-of-way by stepping off the trail when you can.
Lastly, say hello to people as you pass them and wear your mask, or at least have one handy, to pull over your nose and mouth when passing close to others.
Places to Stay in and Around Olallie State Park
There are various hotels off of highway I90 to stay. Alternatively, there are dozens of cozy Airbnb’s, rustic bed & breakfast’s, RV parks, and numerous campgrounds situated nearby.
Whether you prefer car camping (don’t forget the essentials!), backpacking, or something in between, you can camp in various areas within a few miles of Twin Falls Trails. Some of those areas include Iron Horse State Park, Tinkham Campground, and Rattlesnake Lake. However, there’s no camping within Olallie State Park.
The closest town is North Bend, WA where you can buy groceries, snag a Discover Pass, grab some craft brews, or eat your heart out after your hike.
Other Things to Do Nearby
North Bend is a pretty small town, but there are plenty of things to do in the area. There’s a wallaby ranch full of baby albino wallabies about six miles to the northwest, an outlet mall for budget (but quality) gear, several breweries, and there’s even a blueberry farm you can check out.
If you’re looking for more outdoor adventure near Olallie State Park, you can take a short hike to Lester (a ghost town), or take advantage of dozens of other hiking trails nearby.
We haven’t done any nearby trails (yet), but Mailbox Peak, Si & Little Si Peaks, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Dirty Harry’s Peak are allllll on our list.
Looking for Other Washington Hikes?
- Mima Falls Loop in Capitol State Forest (1.5 hours away from Twin Falls)
- More to come! Check back soon 😉
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We’ll talk soon! Until then,