If you want to go chasing waterfalls, but don’t want a hike that is super strenuous, Twin Falls in North Bend is the hike for you. Located in Olallie State Park, Twin Falls is a waterfall that cuts through a narrow rock canyon before plunging over a final 135-foot drop. It’s a 2.5-mile out and back trail that gives you stunning views of the upper and lower falls.
As you first set out on the hike, you’ll notice the social distancing reminder banner hanging above the pay station. This is a busy hike and it’s family friendly, so you’ll definitely encounter other people. If you don’t want to wear your mask the entire time, have it in your hand so you can mask up before passing anyone. The day we went hiking, there was a group whose young son was running ahead, yelling, “Masks on” anytime he saw another person. It was a good reminder for everyone, and gave us a good laugh.
The first part of the trail follows the South Fork Snoqualmie River, and on your right you will see a rocky beach area, that is a pretty place to start and end your hike. Large boulders help separate the main water, creating a shallow area for those who are brave enough to dip their toes into the cold water. While we were there people were letting their dogs play in this area, as the water wasn’t running super fast. There are lots of rocks big enough to sit on, but be careful because they can get slick.
This area gets busy since it’s close to the entrance, so if you’re hoping to be alone, find another place to stop along the way.
As you continue up the trail through the woods you will cross a series of switchbacks. It appears as though there were other trails in the area, but stay on the main trail. You will see signage that encourages you not to disturb the habitat.
The foliage is a mix of old-growth trees and ferns. The trail itself isn’t paved, but is well-maintained. The trail can be muddy and wet depending on what time of year you go and what the weather has been doing. On my recent trip there were only a few spots where we had to step over patches of mud.
The first reward is when you’ve reached the wooden benches. Take a moment to rest, grab water and take in the view of the falls off in the distance. This is a great stopping point if you don’t think you can make the entire hike or if you’re short on time. You’ll still get an impressive view of the falls.
As you continue climbing, you’ll come to a set of descending steps on your right. That takes you down to another viewpoint of the falls. We didn’t go to that area this time because there were already people over there, but it’s truly a spectacular view if you don’t mind waiting for your turn.
When you’ve reached the falls, you’ll know because you’ll hear it. The trail leads to a long bridge that takes you above the water so you can look right at the upper falls, or get that perfect photo in front of it. This is a popular spot for people to stop, so you may have to wait your turn.
For an even closer view, cross the bridge and head up the trail until you reach the upper overlook. You’ll pass a bench on your way up the hill.
If you want a longer hike, continue following the trail up into the trees for another mile until you reach the Homestead Valley Trailhead. The sound of traffic will increase as you get closer to the highway, but it’s a way to extend your hike.
Getting To Twin Falls
If you’re leaving Seattle, take Interstate 90 to Exit 34 (468th Street). Turn right off the ramp, and then turn left at SE 159th Street. You’ll continue along that road until you hit the Twin Falls parking lot.
We arrived around 8:30 a.m. If you are hoping to beat the crowds, I recommend arriving early. When we arrived the parking lot had less than a dozen cars. The lot was completely filled when we returned to our vehicle two hours later, and people were parking up the road and walking down.
You’ll need a Washington Discover Pass, which you can purchase as a day-use for $11.50 or as an annual pass for $35. The trailhead has a pay station that takes cards in case you didn’t grab one before heading out.
As always, remember to pack out any trash you bring with you.