The beauty of waterfalls in Washington state, other than the sheer number of them and their often stunning brilliance, is that the weather is a bit less important in your planning considerations. Especially in the winter/rainy season.

I prefer to go on rainy days, as the rain falling on the waterfall makes an even more dramatic experience. And fantastic photography! I also appreciate the frozen waterfall hikes of winter, particularly the ones that are frequented by ice climbers.

Best Waterfalls in Washington State (by a local)

All of the waterfalls are best viewed from late spring, when the snow is melting from the mountains and flowing fastest downhill, to early summer before it dries out too much. Most of them are great year-round however.

Let this serve as your Washington State waterfall guide. All distances and elevation differences are an average between WTA and AllTrails, which traditionally differ slightly on their hike specifications.

Top 5 Waterfalls in Washington State
*Snoqualmie Falls
*Bridal Veil Falls
*Lewis River Falls
*Spirit Falls
*Spray Falls

Best Waterfalls in Washington State

waterfalls in Washington state
Bridal Veil Falls, WA

 These are the best falls in Washington in my opinion. I’ve described individually why I think so, but a lot of people who hike regularly would agree with me.

1. Bridal Veil Falls

  • Distance: 4.1
  • Elevation gain: 1020 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: Near Index, WA off of US-2
  • Parking pass: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Gear: Raincoat, rain pants and waterproof boots, or just a towel and a change of clothes depending on the time of year. An umbrella will not help much.
  • Best bet for a good bite: Sultan Bakery, 31407 US Rt 2, Sultan

The water flowing from Lake Serene pours down the mountain and comes out mostly at Bridal Veil Falls, although there are several smaller and also beautiful falls on your way up to Lake Serene, if you choose that difficult hike.

Bridal Veil is not nearly so difficult, often quite crowded and always a very wet experience. What makes this waterfall one of the best is its’ sheer size and that your view of it is usually completely free of obstacles. It’s quite possibly my favorite in Washington, although I might have a few.

This impressive waterfall can be seen from the right, where the trail for it takes you, or from the left if you go just a little ways farther along the Lake Serene Trail. Both are awe-inspiring and worth the hassle of parking and far too many people.

2. Lewis River Falls

  • Distance: 8.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 712 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: near Toutle Lake, WA
  • Parking pass: Northwest Forest Pass and reservations required during the summer, through recreation.gov
  • Gear:  spikes in winter, if the road is passable; no cell service at this location so download map before arriving.
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Bring your own food.

Lewis River Falls is a series of three different waterfalls connected by a single hike. You can park at any of them, the Upper, Middle or Lower falls and begin hiking at any point and in either directions. The Lower Falls are my favorite, but all of them are worth checking out.

What makes this series of waterfalls one of the very best in Washington is the magical combination of old growth forest, lush vegetation and of course all the delightful waterfalls.

There is a side trail at the Middle Lewis Falls that will take you to yet another, Copper Creek Falls, and another side trail from the Upper Falls that will take you to Taitnapum Falls. I’ve spent entire days here, immersed in nature and still didn’t want to leave. Waterfalls everywhere for the win!

Lower Lewis Waterfalls

3. Spirit Falls

  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 433 feet
  • Difficulty:  hard
  • Location: Columbia River Gorge
  • Parking pass: None
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: The Hammond Kitchen & Craft Bar

Spirit Falls drops approximately 40 feet into a narrow canyon and is surrounded by steep cliffs and boulders. The fantastic waterfall is best viewed in the spring when the water flow is at its highest.

Spirit Falls

4. Spray Falls 

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1950 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: near Carbonado, WA
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Gear:  high clearance vehicle recommended, waterproof boots, towel and hiking poles
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Simple Goodness Soda Shop, 533 Church St., Wilkeson

Spray Falls is an incredible trail and well worth the effort of getting there. The trail continues on after the Falls to Spray Park for the daring, energetic and highly motivated, with rewarding views Tahoma and a truly magical Mist Park.

If you like adventure, as I do, this is one of the best hikes not just because the falls are simply stunning, but because it’s filled with one treasure after the next for those venturing beyond the falls themselves.

5. Teneriffe Falls

  • Distance: 5.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1496 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: near North Bend
  • Parking pass: Discover Pass
  • Gear:  Raingear, hiking poles
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: North Bend Bar & Grill

Teneriffe Falls is a stunning waterfall in North Bend, just a few miles from Twin Falls. The falls drop approximately 150 feet and are surrounded by old-growth forest and rocky cliffs.

The hike to Teneriffe Falls is considered moderately difficult, with several stretches that are very rocky and unstable. Hiking poles would be helpful here. The trail is steep in some sections, but hikers are rewarded with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Tenerife Falls

6. Wallace Falls

  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1489 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: near Gold Bar
  • Parking pass: Discover Pass
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Sultan Bakery

The delightful hike to the falls follows the Woody Trail, a well-maintained trail that passes through beautiful forest and along the Wallace River. The hike is considered moderate in difficulty and there are several viewpoints along the trail that provide excellent views of the falls and the valley.

Wallace Falls

Easy to Reach Waterfalls

These outdoor waterfall spots in Washington are either viewed right from the road or follow an easy trail for a short distance to reach the waterfall.

7. Snoqualmie Falls

  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 290 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Snoqualmie, WA
  • Parking pass: none
  • Gear:  just water
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: The Salish Lodge, located on site, offers fine dining that can’t be beat. For a little less expensive bite, but equally delicious, treat yourself to their Attic Restaurant also on site.

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, it’s near Seattle, and is super easy to see. It’s one of the easiest but also one of the best, by far. Park across the road and take the sky bridge over or park in the main lot for a fee.

The falls can be viewed from above, without the 1.4 mile hike or you can take the path to the right and walk down to the lower viewing area. You are also able to park close to the lower viewing area and walk less than half a mile to see it, or walk up the hill to see it from above.

Snoqualmie Falls Winter
Snoqualmie Falls, WA

8. Twin Falls

  • Distance: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 575 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy to moderate
  • Location: North Bend, WA
  • Parking pass: Discover Pass
  • Gear:  microspikes in winter, hiking poles just in case
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: North Bend Bar & Grill for a great meal, North Bend Bakery for a special treat for little ones.

This North Bend hike follows the river for a peaceful and very green journey to the top of the falls. You’ll pass benches, man-made or moss-covered logs, giant boulders and peeks of the falls and river along the way. The turn-around point is the bridge overlooking the falls below.

As you’re heading back, be sure to take a detour down the steps on your left for the very best view of the falls. I’ve been to these falls many times and sometimes I only go to this detour because it’s so spectacular.

Twin Falls

9. Franklin Falls

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 380 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy to moderate
  • Location: North Bend, WA
  • Parking pass: Northwest Forest Permit, Sno-Park Pass in winter
  • Gear:  microspikes and possibly snowshoes in winter, hiking poles just in case
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: North Bend Bar & Grill for a great meal

This hike has two routes in the winter and a single common trail in the summer. In the winter, bring traction devices to get down closer to the falls. Ice climbers watch the weather and this waterfall very closely, as there usually a few weeks out of every winter that are safe for them to climb.

It’s an enchanting hike, starting from the bottom, summer trailhead. Pass adorable and photograph-worthy cabins situated along the creek and peek-a-boo views of the creek all the way up.

Waterfalls in Washington State

10. Narada Falls

  • Distance: 0.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 85 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Paradise, WA
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Gear:  microspikes in winter
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat:  Paradise Inn Dining Room

An absolutely beautiful, and short, hike for families with children. One of many at Mt Rainier. It can be slippery in winter. Note that the uphill part of this hike is on your return trip.

Narada Falls

11. Myrtle Falls

  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 150 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: near Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Paradise Inn Dining Room

Add this one to your list of Must-see Washington falls! Myrtle Falls is another popular waterfall in Mount Rainier National Park. The waterfall is situated in a beautiful alpine meadow and drops approximately 72 feet into a small pool below.

There is a short, well-maintained trail that leads from the parking lot at Paradise to the viewpoint for Myrtle Falls. The trail is only about a quarter of a mile long and is considered easy, making it accessible for nearly all ages and skill levels.

The best time to see Myrtle Falls is in the summer months when the wildflowers are in bloom and the waterfall is at its fullest. However, the falls can be viewed year-round and are also beautiful in the winter when they’re surrounded by snow and ice.

Waterfalls in Washington state

12. Christine & 13. Comet Falls

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1279 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: near Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Paradise Inn Dining Room

Comet Falls is a stunning waterfall that drops approximately 462 feet and is located on the Van Trump Trail, which is accessed from the Comet Falls Trailhead.  Christine Falls is a smaller but equally beautiful waterfall on the way to Comet falls.

14. Ludlow Falls

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 98 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: near Port Ludlow
  • Parking pass: none
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Geoduck Restaurant and Lounge

The Ludlow Falls Trail offers a charming trail and beautiful views of the Ludlow Falls. It’s a great stop if you’re near the Hood Canal Bridge.

15. Madison Falls

  • Distance: 0.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 26 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: near Port Angeles
  • Parking pass: none
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Nourish Sequim

Madison Falls Trail is another popular hiking trail in Olympic National Park. It’s a short, easy, paved trail, making it a great option for hikers of all levels and abilities.

16. Marymere Falls

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Parking pass: none
  • Gear:  none
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Lake Crescent Lodge or Turn Up the Beet in Port Angeles

Very near Lake Crescent, which is also a worthy stop, The trail to Marymere Falls is a walk through an old growth wonderland with moss-covered everything. Peaceful, charming and always beautiful.

Waterfalls in Washington state

17. Sol duc Falls

  • Distance: 1.6
  • Elevation gain: 210 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Olympic National Forest
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Gear:  Raingear and boots are a good bet.
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Lake Crescent Lodge or Turn Up the Beet in Port Angeles

Old growth forest overflowing with every shade of green imaginable.  This is one of the best, for your entire family. Print out directions before you go, as there is hardly any cell service in this area.

Sol duc Falls

18. Palouse Falls

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Palouse Falls State Park, eastern WA
  • Parking pass: Discover Pass
  • Gear:  fill up with fuel before leaving
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Bring your own food, as there are no amenities near this waterfall.
Palouse Falls

Washington’s official waterfall is far from any major towns and has no amenities on site except for restrooms, but still this waterfall always delivers. Winter may be more beautiful, but sunsets are gorgeous regardless of the season.

Secret Waterfalls in Washington State

These are hidden waterfalls that seem to be relatively unknown, even though some of them are listed on the trail apps. They’re less crowded for certain. All incredible.

19. Snoqualmie Mountain Halfway

  • Distance: 1.4 mile
  • Elevation gain: 1350 feet
  • Difficulty:  difficult
  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass, WA
  • Parking pass: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Gear:  Hiking poles, can be extremely muddy.
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: The Commonwealth, Snoqualmie Pass, WA

The mileage and elevation listed here is to reach the waterfall, not the top of Snoqualmie Mountain. Even though this is only halfway up the mountain, it’s still extremely steep. This waterfall may be one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Washington State.

Partly because it’s hard to reach. Extreme might not be an exageration. This hike is often used for people training for bigger things, but it’s rare to see more than a few other people on the trail at the same time as you.

This is one of my all-time favorite waterfalls, mostly because it was such a delightful surprise when I first came across it. The trail goes right over a flat part of the waterfall, which then drops sharply off in the direction of Mt Rainier.

Secret Waterfalls in WA
Halfway up Snoqualmie Mountain

20. Rocky Brook

  • Distance: 0.2 mile
  • Elevation gain: 15 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Brinnon, Olympic Peninsula, WA
  • Parking pass: none
  • Gear:  map, no cell service
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Nourish Sequim, Sequim WA

This is a short walk to a beautiful waterfall, perfect for just passing through and adding a little bit of brilliance to your day. It’s part of a hydroelectric company and private property, so you must stay on the trail at all times.

21. Otter Falls

  • Distance: 11 miles
  • Elevation gain: 775 feet
  • Difficulty:  moderate
  • Location: North Bend, WA
  • Parking pass: Northwest Forest Pass
  • Gear:  map, as there is no cell service in this area
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Little Si Restaurant & Lounge, North Bend

This is at the end of the Taylor River Trail. A peaceful if long walk along an old logging road, ending in a terrific waterfall and swimming area. The water is rather cold however, so go on a hot day if you want to swim.

While it is not advised, you will likely also see people sliding down the rock face with the water.

Otter Falls

22. Sunbeam Falls

  • Distance: 0 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park, WA
  • Parking pass: none
  • Gear:  none
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Paradise Inn Dining

This gorgeous waterfall is right off the road, no hiking involved. Take Steven’s Canyon Road past Lake Louise to the Bench Lake Trailhead. You will see a sign for Sunbeam Creek and that’s where you’ll find the waterfall. It does dry out towards mid-summer.

23. Carter Falls

  • Distance: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 610 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Paradise, WA
  • Parking pass: National Park Pass
  • Gear:  rocky in places
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Paradise Inn Dining

This is part of the Wonderland trail. The views along this family friendly part of the trail, and the wildlife and wildflowers, make it seem like a very short hike. If you go along the Wonderland trail even further, you can see Tatoosh Falls in the spring or early summer.

24. Panther Creek

  • Distance: 0.25 mile
  • Elevation gain: 110 feet
  • Difficulty:  easy
  • Location: Carson, Columbia River Gorge, WA
  • Parking pass: none
  • Gear:  map, as the signs are not ideal
  • Best bet for a good bite to eat: Big River Grill, Stevenson, WA

Two beautiful tiers of segmented waterfalls after a very short hike on a nicely maintained trail.

Hiking Trails with Waterfalls in Washington

Here are the best Pacific Northwest waterfall hikes in Washington state, each described above.

  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Lewis River Falls
  • Spirit Falls
  • Teneriffe Falls
  • Wallace Falls
  • Twin Falls
  • Franklin Falls
  • Merymere Falls
  • Otter Falls
  • Carter Falls
  • Panther Creek

Chasing Waterfalls – Seattle Day Trips

Waterfall chasing is a famous activity in this state, because we can, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local. To simplify your task of picking the most magnificent ones and to make the very most of your road trip adventures, I’ve organized them into several different day trips from Seattle.

So, all that’s left for you to do is select the direction you wish to go for your waterfall adventure in Washington, your favorites from the list, and set aside a day to do as many as you possibly can.

Waterfall adventures in Washington

East of Seattle

While it’s not possible to do all of these in a single day, you can’t go wrong with whatever you end up choosing. The route going east from Seattle takes you to seven falls, in this order:

  • Snoqualmie Falls – 29 miles from Seattle, 100 feet or 1.4 mile hike
  • Tenerife Falls – 35 miles from Seattle, 5.7 mile hike
  • Twin Falls – 35 miles from Seattle, 2.5 mile hike
  • Otter Falls – 47 miles from Seattle, 10.9 mile hike
  • Franklin Falls – 49.4 miles from Seattle, 2 mile hike
  • Snoqualmie Mtn – 52 miles from Seattle, 1.4 mile hike
  • Palouse Falls – 235 miles from Seattle, 50 feet hike

Of these seven falls, Snoqualmie Falls is by far the easiest to get to, as it’s just off road. Snoqualmie Falls is also the most impressive, by far.

Otter Falls will take the longest because of the drive to the trailhead and the long (though mostly flat) hike to get there. Snoqualmie Mountain Halfway will also take a considerable amount of time, not because of the distance but because of the difficulty.

Twin Falls and Franklin Falls are probably the most entertaining, because they offer so many things to see along the way, the falls are beautiful and the trails to get there are so completely charming. They also have trillium wildflowers blooming in the spring, towards the beginning of the trails.

Palouse Falls is 235 miles away and essentially a day trip on its own. If you’re going to make this trip, make it spectacular and go for a sunrise or sunset adventure. Be sure to check park regulations before you head in that direction.

North of Seattle

While there are a few smaller falls along this route, these two are the most impressive and more than enough to make for a fantastic day each on their own. This direction includes Wallace and Bridal Veil Falls, both of which require a substantial hike to reach.

  • Wallace Falls – 47 miles from Seattle, 4.9 mile hike
  • Bridal Veil Falls – 56 miles from Seattle, 4.2 mile hike

If you’re feeling highly motivated and want to do them both on the same trip, do Bridal Veil Falls first. Wallace Falls has a gorgeous trail leading up to the falls and shouldn’t be missed if you can manage it, but it would be a shame to miss Bridal Veil if you don’t have the time for both.

West of Seattle

The Olympic Peninsula is mostly known for its unbelievably beautiful beaches and beach trails, but the forest trails within the park are also incredibly beautiful and well worth your time.  This route west takes you to five waterfalls:

  • Ludlow Falls – 40 miles from Seattle, 0.5 mile hike
  • Rocky Brook Falls – 64 miles from Seattle, 0.2 mile hike (detours south from the others)
  • Madison Falls – 95 miles from Seattle, 0.2 mile hike
  • Marymere Falls – 103 miles from Seattle, 1.7 mile hike
  • Sol duc Falls – 125 miles from Seattle, 1.6 mile hike

Rocky Brook, Ludlow and Madison Falls are by far the easiest, as they’re just off the main road. The trail to Marymere is rather enchanting by itself, making the falls icing on the cake. Sol duc Falls however, is the most popular for a reason.

South of Seattle

So many waterfalls in this direction, so little time. You’ll have to choose between two basic options, but both are worth doing.

The first route will take you to six sweet waterfalls – Carter Falls, Christine, Comet, Narada, Myrtle, and Sunbeam Falls.

The second route includes only Spray Falls Park, which is nearly on the opposite side of Mt Rainier National Park as the previous four.

  • Carter Falls – 94 miles from Seattle, 2.7 mile hike
  • Christine Falls – 100 miles from Seattle, 3.2 mile hike
  • Comet Falls – 100 miles from Seattle, same hike as Christine
  • Narada Falls – 105 miles from Seattle, 2.4 mile hike
  • Myrtle Falls – 108 miles from Seattle, 0.8 mile hike
  • Sunbeam Falls – 104 miles from Seattle, 10 feet
  • Spray Falls – 75 miles from Seattle, 6.9 mile hike

Is Spray Falls Park worth a day trip on it’s own? Yes, no question. If you still have energy afterwards you can combine it with a hike to the unbelievably beautiful Tolmie Peak, which is in the same hard-to-reach area as well.

Is one Spray Falls just as special as the six others combined? It depends I suppose on you and what you like, or if you’ve seen any of them before or not. I would say make a day trip from Seattle for each one.

Very far south of Seattle

The drive alone makes for a pretty long day trip from Seattle, but all of these are well worth taking the time and effort to see:

  • Lewis River Falls – 205 miles from Seattle, 8.8 mile hike
  • Spirit Falls – 220 miles from Seattle, 0.7 mile hike
  • Panther Creek Falls – 223 miles from Seattle, 0.2 mile hike

Seeing all of these falls makes for a day with 10 hours of driving. Seeing just the best, the Lewis River Falls (Upper, middle and lower) would be an 8-hour day of driving. But if you’ve already driving this far, going a little extra further for the others isn’t a bad way to spend your time.

What to bring for your day trip

Any parking permits you will need.

The Ten Essentials

  • Navigation – A map and compass (and the knowledge to use them) are essential for hiking in unfamiliar terrain.
  • Sun Protection – Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect against sunburn and UV damage.
  • Insulation – Appropriate clothing for the weather, including layers that can be added or removed as needed.
  • Illumination – A headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries and bulb.
  • First Aid – A basic first aid kit, including items like bandages, pain relievers, and blister treatments.
  • Fire – Waterproof matches or a lighter
  • Multi-tool and repair kit – A knife or multi-tool, duct tape, and other supplies for repairing gear or improvising in emergencies.
  • Nutrition – Enough food and water for the length of the trip, plus a little extra in case of delays or emergencies.
  • Hydration – Plenty of water
  • Emergency Shelter – A lightweight, waterproof shelter such as an emergency blanket.

Waterfalls in Washington State FAQs

Washington state is a waterfall-lovers paradise. There are waterfalls nearby nearly everywhere you are in this state, though some might be dry depending on the season.

What is the iconic Washington waterfall?

Snoqualmie Falls is the most popular waterfall in Washington state.

What is the biggest waterfall in Washington state?

Colonial Creek Waterfall is the largest waterfall in Washington state.

How many waterfalls are in Washington?

There are well over 3000 waterfalls in Washington state.

What are three major waterfalls in Washington?

Snoqualmie Falls, Palouse Falls and Christine Falls.

What is the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest?

The largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest is Multnomah Falls, located in the Columbia River Gorge area of Oregon. Multnomah Falls has a total height of 620 feet (189 meters), with a main drop of 542 feet (165 meters).

Final Thoughts: Washington’s Waterfalls

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the waterfalls in Washington state, as there are more than 3000 of them. Some are close to Seattle while others are not so much, but all worthy of your time and gas money.