13 Best Waterfall Hikes near Seattle

What hiker doesn’t love a stunning waterfall hike? Waterfalls are one of the ideal destinations for a hike, especially in a rainy climate like Seattle. I’m a born and raised Seattelite and I’ve loved these trails my whole life. I’ve curated my list of the very best waterfall hikes near Seattle for you to explore and enjoy as much as I do!

This list only includes hikes that are less than a two hour drive from Seattle, but there are many more waterfalls across Washington State that are worth the drive. Don’t miss the unforgettable waterfalls in Olympic National Park and Mt Rainier National Park if you are a fan of waterfalls. Both parks are about three hours away from Seattle, although one waterfall in Mt Rainier did make this list because it’s much closer (and not crowded!).

All of the waterfalls on this list are good year round hikes, except for Denny Creek and Keekwulee Falls, that you can only get to in the summer (July through October). Spring (March through June) is generally the best time for the waterfall hikes on this list.

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Coal Creek Falls – Bellevue

A small waterfall going over a mossy rock in a forest with ferns
Coal Creek Falls in early Spring
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Coal Creek Falls is close to Seattle, has plenty of options to make the hike a short 2 miles or many miles further making loops throughout the park.
  • Distance from Seattle: 30 minutes to the Sky Country Trailhead in Cougar Mountain Regional Park.
  • Length of hike: 2 miles round trip out and back from the Sky Country Trailhead
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Season: The waterfall is usually dry from mid summer until fall rains come. November through May is the best time to do this hike.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is a well maintained dirt trail with some rocks and roots but not a lot. Going out and back to the falls is not steep, but you can make your hike longer and steeper by connecting to other trails in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Some parts of the trail are fairly wide, others are narrow. October through May, expect plenty of mud on this trail, especially if it’s been raining.
  • Parking Pass: None
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: Good
  • Restrooms: Port a potties in parking lot

Snoqualmie Falls – North Bend

A wide and tall waterfall going over a cliff in the forest to the river below
Stunning Snoqualmie Falls on a spring day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Super close to Seattle and accessible for all ages and abilities, this is a must see waterfall in the Seattle area. Don’t miss out on the amazing pancakes (and other food) at the lodge while you’re there, or at least by the mix at the gift shop to take home. Snoqualmie Falls is Snoqualmie Tribal land.
  • Distance from Seattle: 30 minutes
  • Length of hike: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 250 feet (down on the way to see the waterfall, up on the way back)
  • Season: This is a beautiful waterfall all year long. During times of heavy rain in fall, winter and spring it is particularly impressive.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is wide and graveled or boardwalked with no barriers.
  • Parking Pass: None
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash. This area gets extremely crowded, especially on weekends so if your dog is not good with crowds, it might not be ideal.
  • Cell service: Good
  • Restrooms: Yes, in the parking area

Teneriffe Falls – North Bend

Looking up from the base of a steep waterfall with water and spray coming down a steep rock face. There are rocks and trees surrounding it
Teneriffe Falls on a June day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Teneriffe Falls is on a very rocky trail with a lot of obstacles, which is either fun or frustrating depending on what type of hiker you are. There’s no question that Teneriffe Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Cascade Foothills in the spring
  • Distance from Seattle: 45 minutes
  • Length of hike: 6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
  • Season: The best time for this hike is in June, when the fox glove wildflowers are blooming along the trail to add to the fun and the snowmelt makes the waterfall amazing. Anytime in the spring is good. The waterfall slows to a trickle by late summer.
  • What the trail is like: The first part of the trail is mostly smooth dirt trail, but as you get higher up there are a lot of rocks to navigate. Shortly before the waterfall it gets very steep and rocky and there are logs to climb over. The area right at the waterfall is quite small.
  • Parking Pass: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash. However the area near the waterfall around the rocks and logs may be hard to navigate with a dog.
  • Cell service: Decent. There are a few dead spots but most of the trail has some service.
  • Restrooms: Pit toilets at trailhead

Twin Falls – North Bend

A wide and high waterfall cascades over a vertical rock face. There are trees and green shrubs around it
Twin Falls on a winter day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Twin Falls is super popular with families for good reason – a beautiful waterfall and an interesting forest hike with lots of boulders and a river to explore. It’s relatively short at just 3 miles round trip, though you can go further up to the Iron Horse Trail if you want more miles.
  • Distance from Seattle: 45 minutes
  • Length of hike: 3 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Season: Excellent all year. There is water in the waterfall even in late summer, though less. This is very crowded in summer, try an evening hike in summer or go in winter like I do.
  • What the trail is like: A very well traveled dirt trail with some roots and mud.
  • Parking Pass: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: Good
  • Restrooms: Pit toilets at trailhead

Cherry Creek Falls – Duvall

A hiker in a winter hat and coat with gloves and a backpack standing on a gravel beach looking across a small river to a waterfall in the forest
Cherry Creek Falls on a late fall day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Cherry Creek Falls is tucked away near the town of Duvall, and is a beautiful waterfall accessed by a forest trail with some interesting features like the creek and the somewhat famous yellow car stuck in a tree.
  • Distance from Seattle: 45 minutes
  • Length of hike: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Season: a good all year hike, like most waterfalls the water is more impressive in the fall/winter/spring with less water in summer.
  • What the trail is like: The trail starts as a wide closed road with some rocks, then becomes a dirt trail. Shortly before the waterfall you may need to ford a creek depending on the water level in the creek (wear rubber boots or bring extra socks).
  • Parking Pass: None, pay attention to no parking signs and do not park illegally or blocking the road or driveways.
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: A bit of service by the trailhead, otherwise mostly no service
  • Restrooms: None

Franklin Falls – Snoqualmie Pass

Franklin Falls in winter with only a bit of ice and snow around it. The waterfall is plunging over a vertical cliff. A hiker is taking a photo of the waterfall wearing a wool hat and a red jacket
Franklin Falls on a late fall day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Franklin Falls is without question one of the most famous waterfall hikes near Seattle. Despite being right under a major freeway, it’s still spectacular. Be ready for big crowds in summer. I love this hike in winter, though you need to avoid it at times of avalanche danger as an avalanche chute goes right to the base of the falls.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour
  • Length of hike: 2 miles round trip in summer (8 or 4 miles round trip in winter, depending on where you start)
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Season: All year, though the hike, access and parking passes are different.
  • What the trail is like: This is a very well maintained dirt trail in summer, with some rock steps to get to the base of the falls and the area around the falls is very rocky. Deep snow and ice are present in winter
  • Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass); Washington Sno Park pass at the Denny Creek trailhead in winter (none required in winter on the Snoqualmie Pass side)
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: Good, with a few limited or dead spots
  • Restrooms: Pit toilet at the trailhead in summer, no toilet in winter

Denny Creek Slides and Keekwulee Falls

  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: The Denny Creek Slides are an icon of childhood summers in Seattle for decades. This is a natural waterslide that can have very swift and cold water so make sure to assess the situation before deciding if it’s safe for your littles. I loved coming here as a kid, just like generations before and after me! Keekwulee Falls is further up the trail and is for looking at, not swimming in.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour
  • Length of hike: 2 miles to Denny Creek slides, just under 4 miles round trip to Keekwulee Falls
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet to Denny Creek slides, 1100 to Keekwulee Falls viewpoint
  • Season: This trailhead is usually not accessible until July. July and August are the peak summer days perfect for the slides. September also has plenty of warm weather though the water levels are much lower in late summer. You can hike to Keekwulee Falls until the snow makes the trail inaccessible, usually some time in early November.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is well maintained and heavily traveled dirt trail until the slides, there are far fewer people once you pass the slides at about 1 mile from the trailhead.
  • Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass)
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash. The slide area gets extremely busy so depending on your dog this might not be ideal.
  • Cell service: Decent at trailhead. Less service with dead spots as you go up the trail
  • Restrooms: Pit toilet at trailhead

Wallace Falls – Gold Bar (Highway 2)

A narrow high watefall over rocks in an evergreen forest
Wallace Falls on a summer day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: This is super popular hike and is extremely busy in spring and summer. Parking may be impossible unless you get there super early or start late in the day. Going in early spring or fall when it’s raining is another good way to beat the crowds. There’s a reason this hike is so popular though, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Waterfalls, a beautiful river and impossibly green forest make this a must do.
  • Distance from Seattle:
  • Length of hike: Just under 6 miles round trip (options to make it longer on additional trails), 5 miles round trip to the middle falls viewpoint.
  • Elevation Gain: 1300 feet
  • Season: All year, though there is snow at times in winter. Spring and Fall are ideal. Summer is crowded.
  • What the trail is like: A well maintained and well traveled dirt trail, there are some rocks and roots but less than many other trails. The part between the middle falls and the upper is the steepest part (avoid this by turning around at the middle falls)
  • Parking Pass: Washington State Discover Pass
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash. Keeping your dog leashed is required by law but also particularly important for safety here around the waterfalls.
  • Cell service: None
  • Restrooms: Pit toilets in parking area

Bridal Veil Falls – Between Gold Bar and Skykomish on Highway 2

  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: This is an extremely popular waterfall hike and VERY crowded in summer. It shares the trail with super popular Lake Serene near Mt Index along Highway 2 on the way to Stevens Pass. There’s a reason it’s so popular, it’s a gorgeous waterfall and you can get right up close on the trail. Well worth it, though you might want to consider and evening hike in summer or sunny spring weekend days.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Length of hike: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
  • Season: Spring is particularly good along with late fall once the rains come. Summer is very busy on this trail, but still great for the waterfall.
  • What the trail is like: A mellow, dirt trail for the first mile and a half, once you turn onto the trail to Bridal Veil Falls, the last bit is very rocky with quite a few stairs. Spray from the waterfall makes it wet all the time.
  • Parking Pass: Northwest Forest Pass (or America the Beautiful Pass)
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: None
  • Restrooms: Pit toilets at trailhead

Boulder River Falls – Mountain Loop Highway

A hiker in an orange hat looking across a creek to a high waterfall coming down over moss covered rocks in the forest
Boulder River Falls on a fall day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: Boulder River Falls is usually not particularly crowded, especially during the fall and spring which are great times for waterfall hikes! This trail is also not steep and goes through a beautiful forest.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Length of hike: 9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Season: This hike is doable all year, but particularly good in the late fall (once the rain starts) and spring.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is a dirt trail with quite a bit of mud and a few rocks and roots here and there.
  • Parking Pass: None
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: None
  • Restrooms: None (there is a pit toilet along the road to the trailhead)

Whatcom Falls – Bellingham

A long exposure of a waterfall coming over rocks in a forest
Whatcom Falls. Photo Credit: Brandon Fralic
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: This is an excellent year round option in any weather in a beautiful park with a gorgeous waterfall and a scenic stone bridge. It also gives you the chance to visit the delightful town of Bellingham.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Length of hike: 3.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Season: This is an ideal year round hike, in any weather.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is in a city park and very well maintained. There are 3.5 miles of trails in the park to explore in addition to the waterfall. The park connects by trail to Bloedel Donovan Park on Lake Whatcom.
  • Parking Pass: None
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: Good
  • Restrooms: At the parking areas

Little Mashel Falls – Eatonville

A partially frozen waterfall coming over rocks onto snow covered rocks below.
The waterfalls along the Little Mashel River are extra magical in winter
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: The Little Mashel River Waterfalls are my personal favorite waterfalls near Seattle. There are three different waterfalls that you can see above and below. They are magical with a bit of ice and snow in winter and rushing with impossible amounts of water in spring and fall. In summer, they transform to a place of cool refreshing water on hot days.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Length of hike: 9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Season: This hike is doable all year, but particularly good in the late fall (once the rain starts) and spring.
  • What the trail is like: The trail is a dirt trail that is wide in some places and narrow in others. There are a few short, steep sections. The trail is in great condition with only a few rocks and roots, however the spur trails down to the waterfalls from the main trail are often EXTREMELY muddy and/or icy. Use extreme caution on these portions of the trail.
  • Parking Pass: None
  • Dog friendly: Yes, on leash
  • Cell service: Good
  • Restrooms: None

Ranger Falls – Mt Rainier National Park (Carbon River Entrance)

A hiker in a hat and with a backpack looking at a waterfall coming down over rocks through a green forest with ferns
Ranger Falls on a spring day
  • Why it’s one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle: This is a truly crowd free experience as not many people come to this part of Mt Rainier. This is probably the very best thing about it. It’s also a beautiful waterfall and a lovely hike, but the solitude is what makes the hike to Ranger Falls along the Carbon River really special.
  • Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Length of hike: 9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1200 feet
  • Season: This is a good year round hike. Spring is a particularly good time, with the bright spring green of the forest and lots of snow melt keeping the waterfall gorgeous.
  • What the trail is like: Much of the trail is on the closed road, and then you turn right to head up the trail to Ranger Falls, where it becomes steeper with more roots and mud.
  • Parking Pass: Mt Rainier entrance fee ($30/vehicle for up to 7 days) or America the Beautiful Pass. Pay entrance fee at the Carbon River Ranger Station. Check hours for the Ranger Station with the park service as they are quite limited. Display the pass while parking at the trailhead.
  • Dog friendly: No, dogs are not allowed on any trails in Mt Rainier National Park
  • Cell service: None
  • Restrooms: None
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!