Twin Falls Washington

Overview

Olallie State Park Twin Falls North Bend Escapes
Olallie State Park Twin Falls North Bend Escapes

Twin Falls Washington is the tallest waterfall along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River in King County.  It’s the third tallest on any branch of the Snoqualmie after Kanim Falls and Snoqualmie Falls.  It’s only 15 miles from Snoqualmie Pass, which makes is one of the closest waterfalls to Snoqualmie Summit on I-90.  Both trailheads are just off I-90, making it an easy “break hike”.

There are actually three sections of falls that together comprise “Twin” Falls.  The first section is two drops totaling 45 feet and ending up in a large bowl.  This section is mostly invisible from the trail due to the shape of the gorge.  The second series is the two stepped 30 foot fall upstream from the long trail bridge crossing the river.  A 20 foot fall occurs directly under the bridge.  Last is the big horsetail drop of 135 feet over a rock protrusion.  

Twin Falls Washington has been harnessed for hydroelectric production.  This only noticeably impacts the water volume in the drier months.  Therefore the falls are a lot less impressive in late summer.  Viewing is best in winter and spring.  That said, Snoqualmie Pass area conditions can get extreme during winter storms at Twin Falls.  Care should be taken entering the area during periods of high wind or very heavy rain.  The lower trail along the river has been washed out during floods and there are numerous uprooted trees visible from the trail.  

Twin Falls is located inside Olallie State Park.  The Twin Falls Trail provides visitor viewing and access.

Twin Falls Trail

Dalmatian enjoying view of Twin Falls Washington
Dalmatian enjoying view of Twin Falls Washington

The Twin Falls Trail runs for about 2 miles between the Twin Falls Trailhead and the Palouse to Cascades Trail on the south side of the river above the falls.  In between are giant forest trees, numerous small side streams and of course, the main event, Twin Falls Washington.  You can experience the upper and lower falls from multiple vantage points, far off, below, above.  On warm days, there are ample pools for swimming in the river either just below the lower falls or along the river between the lower falls and the Twin Falls Trailhead.  NEVER try to approach or enter the river above a falls if you value your life. 

There are many wonderful places for viewing along the trail.  The remainder of this section describes the Twin Falls trail in some detail.  We start from the bottom at the Twin Falls trailhead and work our way up. 

We recommend starting at the lower end of the trail since most of the points of interest are in the lower 60% of the trail.  Plus, you get “mostly” downhill on the way back although not all as you will see.  If you prefer less people, don’t mind the uphill on the way back plus the extra 3/4 mile or so along the Palouse to Cascades Trail then try the Homestead Valley entrance.  It’s easier to combine a visit to Twin Falls with a jaunt to Weeks Falls, the Palouse to Cascades Trail, or Mount Washington from here.

Mile 0 (Twin Falls Trailhead) to Mile 0.75 (Long Distance View of Twin Falls Washington from "the Benches"). 250 foot climb.

Twin Falls Trail Just starting out
Twin Falls Trail Just starting out
Twin Falls Trail - Snoqualmie River Swimming Hole
Twin Falls Trail - Snoqualmie River Swimming Hole

The first half mile or so of the trail is a mostly flat walk along the river.  There are several small side creeks to cross including one small bridge.  About 0.35 miles in is a really great river access.  You can swim in the warmer months and see small fish in the pools.  It’s also great for dogs.  During the record flooding in 2006, the river completely destroyed the trail.  Looking at the undercut bank, imagine how high the water got.  

Large Boulder along Twin Falls Trail
Large Boulder along Twin Falls Trail
Twin Falls Washington from
Twin Falls Washington from "The Benches"

In another tenth of a mile, pass a giant boulder on the left as the trail begins to climb through the forest.  At this point, you have only gained 60 feet in elevation but the climbing is about to begin.  Then, in another 0.1 mile, just before the trail makes a switchback to the left, look down the hill to the river.  There is a huge pool which would be amazing for swimming.  Then climb about 200 more feet to the benches at the top of the hill.  From here, you get your first far off view of Twin Falls Washington.  

Mile 0.75 ("The Benches") to Mile 1.15 (Twin Falls Overlook Junction). Drop 120 feet then climb 160 feet.

Path down to the Snoqualmie River below Twin Falls
Path down to the Snoqualmie River below Twin Falls
Swimming below Lower Twin Falls Olallie State Park
Swimming below Lower Twin Falls Olallie State Park

From the benches at the top of the hill, now descend to the bottom of the hill.  There are a couple of paths down to the river before the trail starts climbing again.  Around 0.4 miles from the benches, you will reach a trail junction.  Proceed left to continue on the Twin Falls trail.  Go down the steps to the right for the best view of the lower Twin Falls.  It’s about 0.1 miles down 100 steps or so to the lookout but is it ever worth it!  Be careful of your small children or dogs when at the overlook. Going to the overlook adds 0.2 miles and 75 feet elevation to your trip.

Twin Falls Trail Junction for Twin Falls Lookout
Twin Falls Trail Junction for Twin Falls Lookout
Twin Falls Washington from Twin Falls overlook
Twin Falls Washington from Twin Falls overlook

Mile 1.15 (Twin Falls Overlook Junction) to Mile 1.35 (Upper Falls Overlook). Drop 25 feet then climb 100 feet.

Twin Falls Washington Trail bridge over S Fork Snoqualmie River
Twin Falls Washington Trail bridge over S Fork Snoqualmie River
Twin Falls Washington Upper Falls from bridge
Twin Falls Washington Upper Falls from bridge

Although a short 0.2 mile stretch of trail, a lot happens here.  Taking the left fork at the junction to the Twin Falls lookout, drop down a little and cross a small creek on the approach to the long bridge over the South Fork Snoqualmie River.  In the middle of the bridge, there is an amazing view of the upper falls on the upstream side.  Under the bridge the river drops to the top of the lower falls on the downstream side.  The sound of the waterfalls is everywhere. 

Climb another 100 feet up some stairs to the Upper Falls lookout.  You can get a glimpse of the uppermost of the Twin Falls drops as well as the upper part of the middle drop.

Mile 1.35 (Upper Falls Overlook) to Mile 2.1 (Palouse to Cascades Trail Junction). Climb 400 feet.

Twin Falls Washington upper falls from trail past bridge
Twin Falls Washington upper falls from trail past bridge
Massive Uprooted Tree along Twin Falls Trail
Massive Uprooted Tree along Twin Falls Trail

There is not a whole lot to see in this last stretch of trail.  Therefore, many fewer people use it.  You’ll get one last look at the river about 0.1 mile up before the trail leaves the river for good.  In another 0.1 mile, the trail flattens out through a nice wooded area and passes a large uprooted tree.  It might not be a great idea to be on this trail during a big windstorm!  The last half mile is a gradual climb as the sounds of I-90 increase in volume.  At one point, you are almost on top of the freeway.  This section of trail can get overgrown during the leafing out seasons as well as be wet, muddy, and slippery in places.  But it’s a great connector to the Palouse to Cascades Trail and the Homestead Valley Trailhead.  

Location

Twin Falls Washington can be accessed via either end of the Twin Falls Trail.  Both access points are inside Olallie State Park and require a Discover Pass for parking. 

Twin Falls Trailhead Access

Twin Falls Trailhead
Twin Falls Trailhead
Twin Falls Trailhead Discover Pass Pay Station
Twin Falls Trailhead Discover Pass Pay Station

From North Bend downtown either 1. Get on to I-90 East from Bendigo Drive Exit 31 and take Exit 34 (468th Ave SE).  OR 2. proceed East out North Bend Way.  North Bend Way parallels I-90 after leaving town and makes a T-intersection at 468th Ave SE right  next to I-90.  Turn right on 468th.  Follow the road to the entrance to the Olallie State Park entrance road which is right before the road crosses the river.  The Twin Falls Trailhead is at the end of the road. This trail is popular so parking may fill up in which case you’ll have to park along the road farther back and walk from there.

Homestead Valley Trailhead

Details regarding the Homestead Valley Trailhead are found under Olallie State Park.  You will need to go to I-90 Exit 38 to reach this trailhead.