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9 Kid-Friendly Waterfall Hikes for Seattle-Area Families

Rambles alongside a roaring cascade, for every age

Lauren Braden

Published on: May 02, 2023

9 Kid-Friendly Waterfall Hikes for Seattle-Area Families

view of upper wallace falls popular Seattle area waterfall hike best family hikes
Upper portion of Wallace Falls. Credit: Brian Richardson/Flickr CC

Wallace Falls, North Cascades

Kids will love: Interesting steps, turnpikes and switchbacks, many of them built by high-school students.

Highlights: One of the most stunning waterfalls in Washington state, Wallace Falls is the star attraction of this state park, also home to a family-friendly campground with rentable cabins. Wallace Falls comprises an upper, middle and lower falls, first plunging a dramatic 265 vertical feet into a large amphitheater, then churning and tumbling two more times, sending a cool spray in every direction.

Details: From the parking lot, the path to the falls starts under power lines, complete with electrical popping sounds which may or may not be fascinating to your little ones. On a clear day, the view of Baring Mountain and Mount Index makes up for the hissing wires overhead. You’ll finish this stretch soon enough, though, and come to a junction in the woods. Take a right on the Woody Trail through a fern-shrouded hemlock forest about 1.75 miles to the lower falls, the last portion consisting mostly of stairs and switchbacks. Traverse more switchbacks to get a better look at the middle falls viewpoint, this hike’s turnaround spot.

Distance: 4.5 miles round-trip, 700 feet elevation gain

Info: Wallace Falls State Park

Conditions: Check conditions and trip reports at WTA.

Directions: From Everett, take U.S. 2 east for 28 miles into the small town of Gold Bar. Turn left onto First Street, the signed turnoff for Wallace Falls State Park (it is just before milepost 28). At a four-way stop, turn right onto May Creek Road and drive 1.5 miles to Wallace Falls State Park. A Discover Pass is required to park. Also note: Parking is limited. As per the WTA website, please do not park along Ley Road which accesses the parking area for Wallace Falls State Park.

Next stop: Boulder River

Image credit: Brian Richardson/Flickr CC

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