Franklin Falls on Denny Creek

Leslie standing and watching the falls

We had to go to Seattle anyway, and had added plans to stop by Snoqualmie Falls along the way.  Why not see if there are any other waterfalls nearby?

Leslie standing and watching the fallsThat’s what we did, and we found Franklin Falls.  It’s on Denny Creek, several miles east of North Bend and just west of the Snoqualmie Pass summit.  The freeway is split through that area, and has created a wide expanse of forest in between.  Part of Denny Creek flows through that expanse.  I’ve driven by there hundreds of times, and never even though about what all might be hiding in there.

We learned that there are forest roads through there that will take you to campgrounds and trail-heads.  When we spoke with forest rangers in Cle Elum before we continued on to Snoqualmie Pass, they weren’t sure we would be able to access the trail-head due to the snow. Making time to stop by there was taking a chance, but we encountered no snow on the forest roads as we drove past the Denny Creek campground and parked at the Franklin Falls trail-head.

Click on the gallery photo below to see a slideshow of some of the pictures we took during our hike.

Kathy tested the water temperature of this recently melted mountain snowpack.

The trail turned out to be a fairly easy one-mile hike. The biggest challenges were a few short areas of remaining snow-pack covering the trail. There were also a couple sections of moderately steep grades. I think anyone, but the most feeble could easily make this hike, and small children may become weary and disinterested, but it wasn’t a great challenge.

I noticed that there is a place a couple hundred yards from the falls, where the trail winds very near the forest road. If you can find that spot on the road, the hike becomes extremely short and easy. That may be the best bet for families with very young children.

It was a little surprising that we had a good media connection on our cell phones and I was able to text with my Dad and Mom and upload images to Facebook while we were hiking.  Dad really likes to stay informed on what us kids are all doing, especially when it’s something exciting, like hiking in the mountains to find beautiful waterfalls.

This turned out to be a beautiful waterfall adventure.  Being an easy one-mile hike, we were in and out of there in a little over an hour.  The trail followed Denny Creek, and we passed a number of smaller creeks that empty into Denny creek, as well as other waterfalls that drop in from the other side of the creek from the trail.

We noticed a number of patches of these pretty yellow trumpet looking flowers.  I texted a picture to my Mom to see if she could identify it.  She recognized the flower, but couldn’t remember what they were called.  Later, we saw a sign at the Snoqualmie Falls trail-head that had a picture of these flowers.  We learned that they are called “Skunk Cabbage”.

If you are ever on your way over Snoqualmie Pass, and have an hour or so to spared, I highly recommend stopping to hike in to see the beautiful Franklin Falls.  Just take the Denny Creek exit and follow the signs to the Denny Creek campground and Franklin Falls.

Have you ever been to Franklin Falls?  Have you been to, or are you aware of any other nice waterfalls near Franklin Falls, or the Snoqualmie Pass summit?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

The REAL Kickoff of the 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour – Palouse Falls

Spring has got to be the best time to visit Palouse Falls. The water is flowing at its heaviest and vivid green accents the hills around the area. Any other time of the year the entire area would be blanketed in a drab brown.

I’ve seen photos of this waterfall in the wintertime, also. With the frost and ice encrusted walls of the cliffs that surround the waterfall, it’s an entirely different portrait – also very beautiful. Either way, Palouse Falls is among the prettiest waterfalls in the pacific northwest.

Waterfall Tour Kickoff

We set out for our one-day journey on a Saturday morning in early May. This is the “real” kickoff for our 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour.  We tried to get things started in March, but found it to be a little early for the chosen destination.

This day, we followed highway 24 east from Yakima, over the Vernita bridge, and continued east on highway 26 to the falls. Normally, I would consider that route to be long, desolate, and boring, but Leslie and I were accompanied by our son’s girlfriend. The pleasant conversation along the way made the 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Yakima seem very short and quick.

We quickly found a place to park, jumped out of the car, and immediately began to snap photos of the grand waterfall. I’m so thankful for digital photography, but could use better battery life with my Samsung Galaxy S4 camera/phone for occasions such as this.

Images of Palouse Falls

This is a spectacular waterfall with a large volume of water plummeting nearly 200 feet into the bowl of the coulee. It is surrounded by interesting rock formations and varying levels of plateaus. My only interest in geology is purely for the aesthetic value, but I have no doubts that a geology hobbyist would have a heyday here.

palouse falls wide
palouse falls wide
View of Palouse Falls from the far end of the state park.
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Hiking Around Palouse Falls

After a short walk to the south end of the park for some quick snapshots from the viewpoint, we proceeded north from the main picnic and camping area of the park on the trails to the top of the waterfall.

I would describe the trail as being only moderately difficult. It does require caution in places, and I wouldn’t advise anyone with small children or individuals in weaker health conditions or with balance problems to attempt this trail.

After the decent down a rocky slide to the Palouse River above the waterfall, we meandered our way between the river and a rock wall until we arrived at the rock spires they call the “Mohawk” and the precipice overlooking the falls.

My wife and my son’s girlfriend arrived shortly before I did, and when I got there, they had shuffled down to the edge of the precipice for a photo op. I have to admit being more than just a little nervous with them exposing themselves to such a precarious position. The footing isn’t entirely stable and there is nothing below them but certain death with any miss-step.

Though there were several people following a path around the inside of the bowl and down into the bottom of the falls, we elected not to take that trip. Under advise from multiple hikers and bloggers, I felt that the danger was more than I wished to face.

From here, we returned to the car and moved on down the road to find a place for lunch.  I heard there was a decent little place at a KOA campground in King’s Ferry.  Maybe we’ll check that out.