I have been visiting Snoqualmie Falls since I moved here in 1989. The falls have always held a special place in my memory, and every time I go I am taken back to a time when all of the Pacific Northwest was new and exciting to me. I was 18 and my best friend and I would hike down the trail and race each other on the rocks to see who could get closer to the falls the quickest. I often wonder how we did that without ever falling. Such fond memories. My husband and I went on one of our first dates here as well.
Nowadays we bring our children. We have been coming here since they were in baby backpacks and we always hike down to the bottom to get a better view. And no, we don’t allow racing on the rocks.
Snoqualmie Falls is located 30 minutes east of Seattle, just off I-90.take Exit 5, for Highway 18 and Snoqualmie Parkway. Turn left and head north about 3 miles through Snoqualmie Ridge, to Railroad Avenue Southeast. Turn left and drive ¼ mile. Snoqualmie Falls will be on your left. Ample parking is on the right (unless you are a guest in the hotel, then you are permitted to park on the left in the lodge parking lot) but you will have to walk across the highway overpass pedestrian bridge. My 13 year old is afraid of heights and this is usually a daunting experience for her. However, she always laughs when she gets to the other side.
The falls are 286 feet, which is 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls and they flow from the Snoqualmie river. There are two hydroelectric power plants at the falls as well. The Salish Lodge and Spa is perched at the top of the falls. The original “Snoqualmie Falls Inn” was built in 1919 and was completely remodeled in 1988 into an 89 room romantic retreat. You may recall a show in 1990 called Twin Peaks which was filmed in and around Snoqualmie Falls. I, of course being a new resident of Washington, watched it and even loved the soundtrack. At the top of the falls is a two acre park complete with picnic tables, a very nice gift shop, and a lush, green grass area for weddings. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
(Misty shot of the lodge taken from the base of the falls)
At the top of the falls is an observation deck for visitors to stand in for a perfect view of the falls. When the falls are full (which it was the day we visited) due to snow melt or heavy rains, the mist is heavy and the visitors can’t help but get wet. I had to keep wiping my lens. There is another viewing area down the path and offers a drier view. My 13 year old (who is afraid of heights) avoids this overhang every time and stands at a safe viewing distance.
(If you look closely you can see the mist from the falls)
(My 9 year old is pretty brave)
After watching from above for a few minutes, it was time to head to the trail. It’s only a half mile but can be pretty steep in some parts. I grimace when I see an older person (usually being persuaded by younger family members) heading towards the trail completely unaware of how much of a climb it is coming back up. The falls drop almost 300 feet and if you are at the bottom then you know you have to climb back up the 300 feet, and it isn’t gradual since the trail is only a half mile.
At the bottom the river is rushing by and the trail leads past a power house through a caged walkway, probably to keep people away from the power house. A fisherman passed by us that day with a really big fish. I’m not sure what kind it was but it was huge! As you walk down this planked path towards the falls, you end up on a small observation deck some distance away from the falls.
This is fine for some people but the more adventurous visitors hop over a wood fence and carefully climb down the rocks to the river and to the base of the falls. This is a must. Unless you are physically unable to climb down I suggest you try it.. There is nothing like feeling the mist and hearing the roar of the water crashing before you. Of course you can’t get close enough to be in danger, but are close enough to experience the best of Snoqualmie Falls.
(This was taken from the small observation deck. You can see the people making their way closer to the falls, a few are even fishing)
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