Are you staying at a Seattle Vacation Rental and looking for an adventurous day trip? Look no further than some of these impressive PNW waterfalls.
Weekends full of immersive outdoor experiences are what life in Washington is about. From the impressive Cascade Mountains to the Olympic Peninsula, waterfall adventures offer an escape from the city and a chance to experience the Pacific Northwest’s breathtaking natural beauty.
Here are ten of the best waterfalls near Seattle that should be included in your itinerary.
- Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is an iconic and incredible waterfall located just outside of Seattle, Washington. Situated on the Snoqualmie River, the falls drop 268 feet in two tiers, making it one of the most powerful falls in the state. The Snoqualmie people were the first to call this area home and used its vast resources for fishing, hunting, and gathering.
The area around the falls is now a public park and perfect for exploration. A short trail leads to an observation deck where you can get an up-close view of the waterfall paradise. The overlook provides stunning views of the cascading water and its misty surroundings. There is also a gift shop, cafe, and interpretive center in the park.
Located about 25 miles east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most popular day trips from Seattle. This breathtaking 268-foot waterfall is visible from an observation deck near the falls. For a closer look, you can take a short hike to the base of the falls and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
You’ll especially enjoy this Seattle day trip if you’re a fan of the cult classic show, Twin Peaks, which was filmed in and around the area!
- Wallace Falls
Wallace Falls is one of the most incredible waterfalls near Seattle. This waterfall is a spectacular sight to behold, located in the nearby town of Gold Bar. Located in Snohomish County, Wallace Falls State Park is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Washington State. With three distinct tiers cascading down a 275-foot drop, it’s no wonder why this spot attracts so many visitors every year.
The upper falls of Wallace Falls drops over a 145-foot ledge, followed by an 85-foot middle tier, and a 45-foot lower tier.
This cascading beauty is accessible via a short hike that takes you through old-growth forests and over several bridges. The trail culminates at a viewing platform where you can look up at the falls.
There are several trails to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. Regardless of your trailhead, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the cascading falls and lush forests along the way.
Gold Bar, WA, is a great jumping-off point for exploring Washington’s Cascade nature. Stop at Zeke’s Drive In for a pre or post-hiking fuel-up for some no-fuss, All-American burgers and shakes.
If you’re looking for something a little less strenuous, there are plenty of other activities in Gold Bar. Take a stroll through the downtown area to visit small shops, restaurants, and galleries.
- Franklin Falls
If you’re in the Seattle area and looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, a visit to Franklin Falls is a must. Located just under an hour and a half from downtown, the hike to the waterfall is short and sweet, only 2 miles roundtrip.
At 70 feet tall, the waterfall is an impressive sight to behold, especially given its easy accessibility. And the best part?
This hike is perfect for families with a relatively flat and well-maintained trail. So pack a picnic and make a day trip out of it because Franklin Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls in Washington.
- Bridal Veil Falls
Located near Index, Washington (about 50 miles northeast of Seattle), Bridal Veil Falls (aptly named since it resembles a bride’s flowing veil) is a two-tiered waterfall that plunges a total of 118 feet.
The bottom part of the falls can be viewed from the parking lot, while the upper tier of this gorgeous waterfall requires a scenic 4.2-mile out-and-back hike to get there, but the view is worth the effort!
- Big Four Ice Caves
Located in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (about an hour and a half away from Seattle ), the Big Four Ice Caves are a beautiful natural wonder that has been around for thousands of years.
The ice caves are actually a waterfall cascading over a cliff and into a cave, creating an impressive display of icicles and frozen waterfalls in winter. You can reach the caves via a short hike from the parking lot. Definitely put these caves on your Seattle bucket list!
- Rocky Brook Falls
While it can’t boast as much vertical prowess as other waterfalls on this list, Rocky Brook is still a beloved spot. In fact, it’s a much less arduous journey to get there: you merely need to stroll 200 yards from the parking to reach the breathtaking Horsetail Falls.
These falls are also popular swimming spots. This hidden gem is accessible year-round, but they are especially impressive during spring when melting snow contributes to the high volume of water cascading down the rocky cliffs.
The 2-hour drive from Seattle towards the Olympic Peninsula will take you through the small town of Poulsbo, WA, which has proudly given itself the nickname of “Viking City” thanks to its Scandinavian heritage.
If you’re traveling during summer, you may even catch their Viking Fest, Midsommar Fest, or famous Poulsbo Arts Festival.
- Coal Creek Falls
One of the closer waterfalls on this list (it’s less than a 30-minute drive away if you dodge traffic!) Coal Creek Falls is an accessible, family-friendly option if you want to experience Washington’s beautiful nature but still have time to explore the cityscape afterward.
Coal Creek Falls is a 28-foot waterfall that cascades in multiple steps, surrounded by Douglas fir, alder, and cottonwood trees. It’s at its best during the rainy winter season, and the moss covering almost every surface adds to its natural beauty.
The roundtrip 2.5-mile waterfall hike is classified as an easier to moderate hike due to its relatively flat terrain. The falls are located in Cougar Mountain, which was formerly a coal mine from 1863 to 1963 and is easily accessible for novice hikers and families.
The green tree canopy provides a serene natural setting, accentuated by the picturesque Coal Creek Falls in the background. Pack a picnic lunch and relax with the soothing sounds of the falls to serenade you!
- Twin Falls
Twin Falls, named after its double waterfall, offers a beautiful hiking destination with a 2.6-mile round-trip hike (roundtrip) suitable for both novice hikers and families.
Visitors have the option to bike to the impressive waterfall on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail or choose from multiple rock climbing routes to reach the falls. Twin Falls offers a serene waterfall destination after a moderate hike, where the Snoqualmie River cascades into a picturesque turquoise pool.
- Whatcom Falls
Whatcom Falls Park is located in Bellingham, near the Canadian border. The park offers several hiking trails and features beautiful falls, forest views, and a peaceful creek.
About an hour and a half drive from Seattle, the Whatcom Creek Trail Loop is a hiking trail under 4 miles long and in good condition. It’s of moderate difficulty, so it’s well-suited for most hikers.
The trail starts at the main Whatcom Falls parking area, with restrooms and picnic facilities. This hike offers excellent views of the waterfalls, which are some of the best in the Seattle area.
- Boeing Creek
For just a quick foray into nature, zip 20 minutes north of Seattle to Shoreline for a forest walk with small, gentle waterfalls. Follow along with meandering streams as you stroll the many walking trails.
Since this excursion is both close by and relatively flat, it’s the perfect place to go for a dose of nature if you’re pressed for time or traveling with small children and want an easy hike.
What to Know Before You Go
The Pacific Northwest is full of outdoor-centric day trips, and exploring the area’s waterfalls should be at the top of your bucket list! Before you go, learn how to move around Washington’s green spaces like a local.
The Discover Pass or Northwest Forest Pass is a must-have for anyone who wants to explore the incredible waterfalls near Seattle. The pass grants access to over 120 Washington State Parks, including some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region.
Both passes are available for purchase online or at various state parks and recreation outlets. The pass is $11.50 for one day or $30 to $35 for the entire year, so if you’d like to spend more than one day exploring Washington’s incredible nature, we suggest springing for the annual pass.
Pro Tip: Passes can be purchased online, at park entries, or by phone.
When visiting any of the waterfalls near Seattle, make sure to exercise caution. Although these cascades are beautiful and inspiring, they can also be dangerous if proper safety measures aren’t taken.
Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to posted signs regarding trail conditions and potential hazards. Additionally, avoid wading in the water or swimming in any of the pools near the falls, as these areas can be hazardous.
Take a Waterfall Day Trip from Seattle
If you’re looking for an escape from city life, Seattle is surrounded by some incredible waterfalls where you can stand and feel in awe of nature.
So whether you’re looking for a short day trip from your vacation home rental or an extended weekend getaway, these ten waterfalls near Seattle will impress.