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Getting the Most Out of Washington’s Finest Hiking Spots: Franklin Falls

Image by US Forest Service from Flickr

If you’re looking for beautiful scenery and a hike that your whole family can enjoy, then Franklin Falls is the perfect spot.

It’s not every day you can find a hike that the whole family, including your four-legged family members, can climb together.

Whether you only have a few hours to spare or if you have an entire day you can devote, Franklin Falls should be at the top of your list.

The Details on Franklin Falls

The trail itself is only 2.5 miles round trip, which is one of the many reasons this hike is great for your entire family.

The highest point of the falls is about 2700 feet and the elevation gain is only 400 feet. The elevation gain is the right amount for a great workout but not too much for little legs to maneuver through. Most hikers consider this a very steady incline and not too strenuous.

Through the winding trails and coniferous forest, you’ll pass along the gorge. Another added bonus is the shade that’s provided by the incredible greenery. It keeps you from getting too overheated on a hot day.

Image by laffertyryan from Flickr

Over the years, there has been quite a bit of construction to make it as safe for the hikers as possible. And while this is most likely a great hiking choice for your family, just keep in mind that Franklin Falls isn’t stroller friendly. The trail is managed by the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Many hikers feel this is a dog-friendly trail as well, since the path is mostly clear and well-constructed. Just make sure they are on a leash and they can enjoy the outdoors as much as you do.

With the hike, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful vistas of three waterfalls. Once you reach Franklin Falls, you can actually wade into the stream to get a different vantage point (and a great photo) if you dare to enter the water.

Water in the basin is usually freezing cold, but you can actually get up close and personal

One other interesting tidbit for you – the trail runs parallel to an old wagon route. You can even see old ruts from the wagon traffic! There aren’t too many places where you can see something from the 1800s.

When to Plan a Visit to Franklin Falls

franklin falls dam

Image by laffertyryan from Flickr

Franklin Falls is open year round but the best flows of waterfalls are found April through July.

If it’s a sunny day, you may even be fortunate enough to see a rainbow.

And while spring, summer and fall offer better temperatures, the winter is actually quite a popular time for hiking the falls. When you arrive at the falls, you may even be lucky enough to see the beautiful icicle formations that develop during winter.

The frozen icicles can make it look like a literal Winter Wonderland, straight out of a movie.

As a friendly reminder, if you choose to go during the wintertime, make sure your hiking boots are appropriate for the snow. Also, do yourself a favor and double check the road conditions around the area.

No matter what time of year you choose to hike, it’s highly recommended you wear water-resistant boots. There is quite a bit of spray from the falls, and you’ll be exposed to a lot of water. You could also still experience icy conditions even during the spring and fall.

This is also a trail in which you can try your hand at snowshoeing if you like, even if you’re a beginner. This is the best trail for those just starting out or experienced with snowshoes. If this sounds like fun to you, then it’s one more reason to attempt the hike during the winter.

The crowd size is also something to take into consideration. If you aren’t a fan of crowds, then you may prefer to hike early in the morning or during the weekday. This is a very popular hiking destination, and the group size can be a bit larger for all the families.

No matter which day of the week you choose, you may want to get there as early as possible. Not only will it be less crowded, but you’ll be there in enough time to snag a decent parking spot.

Getting to the Franklin Falls

Image from Google Maps

The Falls are located 18 miles North of North Bend, Washington or about 52 miles East of Seattle. Franklin Falls are actually a part of the Snoqualmie Pass. It’s a very easy drive from Seattle and perfect for a day excursion when you want to get out of the city.

From Seattle, you’ll head East on I – 90 and travel to exit 47. This is the Denny Creek/Tinkham Road exit, and you’ll take a left coming off of the exit. You will cross back I – 90 and continue for 0.2 miles to Forest Road 58. Turn right and then you’ll take a left in 0.2 miles.

Continue for 2.9 miles and then you will pass the Denny Creek Campground. This is where you will see the paved parking lot that you will use to access the trail.

Look for the bulletin board that’s located in the parking lot in order to access the trailhead.

Parking can be a bit of a challenge so it’s recommended you come as early as possible. You also have to purchase a parking pass for $5.

Many hikers like to park close to the exit since the crowds can pose a challenge when exiting.

It’s worth mentioning that many people choose to drive to Exit 52, but it’s recommended that you follow the directions above.

Lastly, do pay attention the closer you get to the parking site. The roads can be a tough to maneuver, especially if you go when there’s snow on the ground.

All the effort will be worth it in the end, it’s a good idea to be patient and have a plan for entering and exiting the parking area.

What to Pack When You Hike Franklin Falls

This is definitely a hike recommended most ages and skill levels. But with that in mind, there are a few things you need to be fully prepared. Keep in mind you’ll want to pack as lightly as possible and leave zero trace of having been there.

Here’s a suggestion on what to bring –

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hiking Boots or Snowshoes
  • Rain Jacket or Winter Jacket, Gloves, Hat
  • Clothes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses

If you go during the winter, you should bring tissues and even a thermos of something warm to drink. You will definitely feel the sting of the cool air the further you climb.

Also keep in mind there aren’t any garbage receptacles on the trailhead, make sure you plan accordingly.

As far as clothing, you’ll need to wear what’s appropriate for the season but make sure you don’t mind it getting wet. There’s quite a bit of spray generated from the falls. It’ll feel great after a long hike on a hot day, but it might not feel as awesome as you’re descending.

Plan Your Hike to Washington’s Finest Hiking Spots

Now that you know what a family-friendly hike at Franklin Falls entails, you have no excuse not to plan your adventure there!

A visit to Franklin Falls is a great excuse to spend the day with your family enjoying the gorgeous surroundings. Once you reach the falls, you’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to take beautiful and stunning pictures.

It’s not very often you find a place that’s as special during the winter as it is during the summer. Franklin Falls is that kind of place. It’s even harder to find something that will get your kids to put away their smartphones and appreciate the scenery.

Alright, maybe that’s a stretch. But if there’s any place that could do that for your kids, it would be Franklin Falls.

Oh yeah, if you need more convincing, don’t forget you’re going to make an incredible memory along the way too.

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