Wallace Falls State Park is all about the waterfalls. Located within 50 miles of Seattle, Wallace Falls can be reached in an hour when driving conditions are ideal. The park's accessibility makes it extremely popular – especially on summer weekends. Fortunately the falls are available year-round and a great choice for every season. But the best time to hike here is early morning, on weekdays, and during wetter months when everyone else is sleeping, working, or in hibernation. Flows are strongest in winter and spring, too. We visited on a Wednesday in December when the nearly empty parking lot, dusting of snow on the ground, and crisp, sunny weather combined to make for the perfect early-winter hike.
Wallace Falls State Park was created in 1975 and contains 4,735 acres of land. Nine waterfalls, old-growth forest, rivers, lakes, and streams can be found within. The park is named after the Kwayaylsh family, who were members of the Skykomish tribe and reportedly the first homesteaders in the area. It is not entirely evident how the name “Wallace” was derived from “Kwayaylsh”, though the two words do sound close enough when you say them out loud. Try it. Ok, good warm-up. It's trail time.
The trail is 2.8 miles long with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Begin beneath the open sky and power lines before heading into the forest. At half a mile you'll reach a gate. Stay right for the Woody Trail to Wallace Falls. The trail to the left is an alternate, mixed-use path that leads to Wallace Lake and can be taken as your return route for a partial loop. Follow Woody Trail along Wallace River to the Lower Falls at two miles. From here you can catch a glimpse of Middle Falls – your next destination - in the distance.
Middle Wallace Falls plunges 265 feet down, down, down – the highest drop in the park. Once you've seen the main show, climb the steep half-mile to a nice overlook of the Skykomish Valley. This sunny, open area provides a nice break from the woods and a great lunch spot. We took a burrito break before continuing up the final push to Upper Falls. Gaining 500 feet in half a mile, this is the steepest section of the trail. But it's worth the effort. The trail transformed into a winter wonderland as we climbed above 1,000 feet. Decorated with frost and icicles, Upper Falls did not disappoint. So next time you're looking for a quick winter warmer, give Wallace Falls a go. Cheers!
For additional photos and stats on our hike, check out our tracks on Ramblr!