Hiking in Washington

Upper Falls Wallace State Park

The Upper Falls

Over spring break, my friend and I took a road trip over to Wallace Falls in Goldbar, Washington, and then went on a hike. Wallace Falls is a Washington State Park, and thus we needed a Discover Pass to park there. The Discover Pass is this yellow slip that you hang on the front mirror in your car, which allows you to park at these state parks. The Discover Pass is $10 for a day, or $30 annually. We bought the annual pass, since we knew that we would be hiking at other state parks through the year.

Once we got to Wallace Falls state park, we zipped up our layers (for me, I wore 3 coats, including one fleece and one rain coat). On the first small part of the trail, you’re walking under large electrial towers. Before we entered the woods, we stopped at one viewpoint that looked towards mountains, though it was too cloudy to see the mountains. We then entered the forest, we were met with a William Wordsworth quote: “Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.” After stopping to take a few pictures, we ventured on. We hiked up the Woody Trail, with the first 1/2 a mile being “easy”, according to the trail map. It had very little elevation gain, and took us on a muddy trail that was surrounded by moss-covered trees and ferns on the ground. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail at this point (around 10, on a Tuesday).

Valley Overlook

The Valley Overlook

The next 1.3 miles took us to the lower falls, where we stopped to take pictures and rest for a few minutes. When we were getting ready to leave, a group of hikers caught up to us, and soon passed us. At the lower falls, there is a picnic shelter. We had planned to stop there to eat lunch, but we decided that we would wait until we came back down. The next 0.3 miles was considered “medium”, and took us to the middle falls. When we were looking at the map earlier, we had considered stopping and turning around here if we were too tired to continue. By the time we got to the middle falls, we decided that we should make it to the top, as we had already hiked the majority of the way up. The distance between the middle and upper falls was 0.65 miles, and there was a 470 foot elevation gain. This part of the trail was the hardest, though it wasn’t as difficult as we had anticipated. After a series of switchbacks, we reached the valley overlook. It had been raining the whole time we had been hiking, and we were soaked. When we reached the overlook, the clouds were far enough away that we could see some of the valley below. Some clouds brushed the tops of trees, but most of them stayed high enough that we could take pictures. After stopping at the overlook, we made our way to the top of the trail. Here, we reached the upper falls, which was gorgeous and a great reward for hiking up the trail. It was freezing though, and my fingers began to hurt. I should’ve brought gloves. As we hiked back down the trail, it appeared to be snowing for a moment, which was exciting to see since Washington hasn’t had much luck with snow this year.

trees wallace falls state parkWhile we were hiking back down, I found it difficult to keepmy footing, as it was steep and muddy. I had worn only tennis shoes, while my friend wore hiking boots. She had an easier time hiking than I did in some areas, and so I plan to invest in some sturdy hiking boots. By the time we reached the bottom of the parking lot, we had hiked 5.5 miles with a 1200 foot elevation gain. We were both exhausted, which got me thinking about how Cheryl Strayed (who wrote the book Wild) managed to hike the Pacific Crest Trail without much hiking experience beforehand. We spent about half an hour at the car, eatting our lunch and changing into dry clothes. Wallace Falls was a great hike, and it is one that I would recommend to others. We were glad that we didn’t decide to hike anything longer, as this was the right difficulty for us.

The great thing about Washington is that there are a ton of hikes that you can go on, for all levels of difficulty. I keep a list of hikes that I want to go on, so that if my friends and I ever plan a hiking excursion, we have options to choose from. If you’re looking for hikes around Washington, there are a ton of resources you can use to help find the right one. On my phone, I’ve downloaded the Washington Trails Association app, which can help you look through hikes depending on the region, milage, elevation gain, and other factors. The Washington Trails Association also has a website where you can look up hikes. AllTrails is also a site that I’m aware of that you can use to find hikes. You can also use the Washington State Parks site to get information about hiking in state parks, as well as information on the Discover Pass and other things.

Some hikes are a little ways away from Seattle: driving to Wallace Falls took us about an hour and a half or so. But that doesn’t mean you have to drive far to go hiking. There’s wonderful hikes up in Issaquah and on the way to Snoqualmie Pass, such as Cougar Mountain, Rattlesnake Ledge, and Mt. Si. There’s also many parks within Seattle where you can go hiking. I enjoy walking around the Discovery Park (Magnolia) Loop Trail and sometimes down to the Westpoint Lighthouse. Carkeek Park (Broadview) has nice trails too, and I occasionally go hiking there. There’s also the Washington Park Arboretum (near the University of Washington) that is a gorgeous park, especially in the spring. You can also go on city walks around Downtown, such as walking along the waterfront, the Market, or other parts of Downtown. You could also walk around your neighborhood, or go explore some other neighborhood that you haven’t seen much of before. There are many oppertunties to go hiking around Washington and Seattle, whether it be hiking in the forest, or hiking in the city.

Just be sure that you bring plenty of water and all the other necessary items (you can look up packing lists on REI’s website and elsewhere with a Google search). Hiking is something I’ve always enjoyed, though I started hiking much more frequently fairly recently. If you have a day where you have nothing to do, then perhaps you could consider going on a day hike. You’ll probably enjoy it, and you might also get some Instagram-worthy pictures.

Wallace Falls moutain

Mountain overlook at the beginning of the trail

Here are some books and websites to check out:



-Claire, Magnolia, Teen Volunteer


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