With 12 miles of scenic hiking trails and easy access from Highway 2 at Gold Bar, Wallace Falls State Park is well-known among seasoned hikers in the area. But the park and its towering 265-foot, five-drop waterfall is also a great choice for novice hikers and families looking for a day-trip experience.
Beginning hikers will certainly feel the more than 1,000 feet in elevation gain on the Woody Trail, but the payoff will be great views of the multi-tiered Wallace Falls.
To get to the main entrance of Wallace Falls State Park, turn north off of Highway 2 in Gold Bar onto 1st Street; turn right onto 1st Avenue West/May Creek Road and then veer left onto Ley Road — in less than two miles you’ll be in the parking lot of the park’s visitors center. There you will find a small gift shop, bathrooms and an automated pay station to purchase the necessary $10 day pass or $30 Discover Pass (for unlimited state park visits annually).
The Wallace Falls trailhead sits next to an information kiosk and takes hikers down a wide area with views (through the power lines) of Mt. Index and Baring Mountain. Turning left into the woods, the trail begins to snake along the north bank of the Wallace River, then splits: Veer to the right to stay on the Woody Trail to the falls; the left fork is a wider (and longer) route suitable for mountain biking.
From here the trail does include some ups and downs, but in less than two miles hikers will reach the Lower Falls, complete with nice viewing spots and a large covered picnic area.
Another half-mile up the Woody Trail will take hikers to the most popular stop on the route, a viewing spot of the Middle Falls and its 85-foot drop. While it is the destination most hikers make the trek for, it is also fairly tight, so pack some patience in order to get your turn for a selfie or group photo.
For the more experienced hikers, the trail does continue farther (and steeper) to views of the Upper Falls and back down the Skykomish River Valley and the Olympic Mountains to the far west.
With a round-trip of less than four-and-a-half miles, the hike to the Wallace Falls 85-foot drop is accessible for many. But that does make for some traffic on the trail and at the park’s visitors center. With just 107 parking spaces, it is recommended hikers come early (before 11 a.m.), especially on weekends and holidays.
For more information about Wallace Falls State Park, click https://parks.state.wa.us/289/Wallace-Falls.
— By Doug Petrowski