If you were to ask, “What is a must-do hike in the Seattle area?” you’d likely hear Twin Falls Trail at the top of the list. This family-friendly and dog-friendly hike provides rewarding views as soon as you get on the trail. Meandering alongside the South Fork Snoqualmie River towards the falls, you’ll find multiple access points which provide hikers with opportunities to skip rocks, soak up the views, or take a dip in the cold mountain water. You can even catch kayakers dropping in near the trailhead when the water level is high enough.
As you move up the trail, you’ll quickly see why this area draws volumes of people. The old-growth forest, impressive evergreens towering overhead, and levels of changing landscapes beckon you to keep going. I’ve hiked the Twin Falls Trail three times already in the 14 months we’ve lived in Washington, which is a testament to the accessibility and impressive nature of this trek.
Seasons and Sights
Each season brings a unique beauty to Twin Falls. The changes in flora along with the flow of the rivers ultimately transform the look of the falls themselves. This is one reason it’s fun to go back to this area time and time again. Late in the summer usually brings less flow while early spring brings a strong current as the snow melts. Also worth noting, with summer heat and lack of rain, July and August can be quite dusty and dry. All the more reason to bring those swimsuits and jump in the water!
At a moderate pace without many stops, you could expect to get your first glimpse of Twin Falls from a lookout about 20-30 minutes from the trailhead. The last few hundred feet is a bit steep, but there’s a bench at the lookout which offers a great spot to rest your legs, drink some water, and grab a granola bar.
As you carry on closer to the falls, this section of the trail can get a bit narrow with a few switchbacks and steep grade changes. If the trail is busy, be sure to use trail etiquette by yielding to the group going “up” the trail and allowing them to freely pass while you wait to the side. Also, be on the lookout for an old-growth Douglas Fir between the trail and the river, which boasts over 32 feet around the base of its trunk and is estimated to be 400-700 years old. We did an eleven-person (kids and adults) tree hug around that gigantic guy in the summer!
Choose Your Destination
Around the 1-mile mark of the trail, you’ll see a wooden walkway that goes toward the Lower Falls Viewpoint. You don’t want to miss this up-close view. Although you cannot see the upper falls from here, it’s quickly forgotten when you see the white water cascading down the long rockface. And, depending on the flow, you might even feel the mist on your face while looking over the rails. Hold tightly to your belongings as you peer over; we noticed a number of fallen items below the walkway and there’s no safe way to retrieve them.
Once you return to the main trail, you’ll find the Twin Falls Bridge approximately 0.25 miles ahead. The views from both sides are enchanting, and this bridge is plenty big for everyone to stand on together. Whether staring at the churning falls or gazing down at the river valley, you’ll be delighted you made the hike.
Although many turn back once they arrive at the Twin Falls Bridge, the Upper Falls Viewpoint is a short 5-10 minute walk further. The roar of the water and another eye-catching view are worth extra steps and the last few minutes of incline. At this point, you can decide to turn back or you continue further up the trail. There are no more views of the river or falls past this point, but you’ll find more beauty along the wooded path which is often called ‘Twin Falls via Homestead Valley Trail.’
Speaking of the Homestead Valley Trail, you can try a bike-to-hike alternative option to the falls for an adventure beyond the traditional hike. On my third trip to the falls, we parked at the parking lot of Homestead Valley Trailhead (Exit 38, off highway 90) and jumped on our mountain bikes to the gravel road of the ‘Palouse to Cascade State Park Trail.’ Biking west for approximately 0.5 miles, I saw a sign pointing to Twin Falls off to the right. Although the Palouse to Cascade trail is bike-friendly, bikes are not permitted on the Twin Falls Trail. Be sure to bring bike locks and a way to secure your bike helmets on your backpack as you wander down the narrow trail. Not only did this option of bike-to-hike speed up our journey from Homestead, but it also allowed us to avoid some of the crowds from the lower trailhead (accessed at Exit 34).
The Palouse to Cascade State Park Trail is a connector for many other trails and actually begins at Rattlesnake Lake. This gravel trail continues for over 223 miles and stops at the Washington-Idaho border. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could hit any number of trails or climbing routes as you to bike-to-hike the Palouse to Cascade Trail. We enjoyed trying something new and suggest you give it a go.
Whether you hike the traditional way or try out the bike-to-hike route, I hope you’re able to make the trek to see Twin Falls in the near future. A quick 45-minute drive, give or take, east from Seattle will get you to North Bend, WA for this impressive hike at Ollalie State Park. You will not be disappointed with all this trail has to offer!