Located just a few miles from the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, Franklin Falls draws novice and seasoned hikers alike, during any time of the year. This is the ideal hike for someone looking for a quick beginner hike, or a simple stroll, and it’s easily accessible for hiking enthusiasts on either side of Washington state.
Franklin Falls Trailhead
Especially on a gorgeous, sunny day, once you arrive at the Franklin Falls trailhead, parking may seem daunting. With its proximity to Seattle, this is one of the most popular area hikes, attracting flocks of people every weekend. If you can swing it, try to head out to the falls on a week day, or even a Sunday, to avoid all of the Saturday crowds. Heading out earlier in the day on a Saturday will help to avoid the masses as well. But either way, don’t let the number of people enjoying the trail deter you. Even on a busy day, the reward at the end is worth it.
Once you arrive, check for a spot in the parking lot, or hope to luck out with one of the parking options along the road. It can be incredibly jam packed with cars parking along the roadside, so move slowly and keep your eye out. A Northwest Forest Pass or a paid day fee is required in the parking lot.
Short Hike, Big Reward
Once you’ve parked, it’s time to hit the trail. Franklin Falls is an incredibly simple, out and back hike, clocking in at only two miles. The trail is a quick, one-mile walk to the falls with no significant incline, allowing individuals and families of all ages to enjoy the waterfall waiting at the end. Be sure to keep your eye out along the incredibly well-maintained trail for gorgeous greenery and even a few fungi. Kids will love jumping in the puddles along the trail during the wetter months or scouring the side of the trail to watch out for slugs and mushrooms.
Franklin Falls is a 70-foot waterfall hidden underneath Interstate 90. The waterfall gushes down through river rock into a spectacular river gorge to the left of the trail. Follow the trail, exploring the stunning greenery, but be sure to take in the views to your left. This is one of the most stunning river gorges you can experience on such a quick and easy hike.
As you reach the end of the trail, leading down to the falls and the rock beds below, be careful to keep your footing on the steps. With moss and plenty of water during spring, summer and into fall, along with ice and snow in the winter, these can be incredibly slippery any time of year.
Franklin Falls in Winter
Franklin Falls is still accessible throughout the winter season, and it’s still incredibly popular once the snow and ice hits. Road conditions throughout the winter season can vary, but often once too much snow hits, accessibility to the trailhead is closed off. Dedicated hikers and climbers are still welcome to access the trail if prepared with proper gear, but parking miles away from the trailhead is typically necessary. Often, this hike can turn into a 5 to 7-mile trek, but it’s still well worth it, even through the snow. If you’re lucky, you may even catch some of the expert ice climbers who ascend the falls during winter.
Despite its popularity, and often heavy crowds, Franklin Falls is well worth the drive from the west or east side of the state for a simple hike. It may be short, but it’s mighty, and with a gushing waterfall to awe at once completed, what more could you ask for? The perfect example of a short hike, with a big reward.
Photography: Petar Marshall