Location: North Bend, WA
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Gain: 400 ft.
The Franklin Falls trail is a wonderfully scenic route that trails the Snoqualmie River between the East and West branches of I90; although, you might not even know that if it weren’t for an unobtrusive overpass near the falls area.
Parking for the falls can be found a little farther down the main road from the trailhead (if you’re old like me you’ll remember the old parking area right by the trailhead – this has recently been designated as handicap-accessible parking). To get to the new parking area continue down FR 5800 until you see the signs for Franklin Falls parking. There is a short, easy trail from there to the trailhead.
This trail is a wonderful option to consider when hiking with children or if you’re new to hiking, but there are a few things to consider. The elevation gain of 400 feet is almost completely within the inbound section of the hike. This means that you’ll be going mostly uphill on the way in and downhill on the way out.
If you’re bringing children younger than three or four-years-old you might want to be prepared to carry them out as the trek in can be tiring for little ones. Likewise, if you or someone you’re hiking with has mobility concerns you’ll want to keep this in mind. Most people can complete this trail, even if they have to stop to catch their breath a few times.
If you’re so inclined you can turn this into a loop trail via the old wagon road. This route won’t add any significant length or gain to your hike and it will end a little closer to the parking area.
This is quite an enjoyable and very popular trail; don’t expect to be alone out there!
Are There Toilets? : There are vault toilets at the trailhead, but, with the trail being so popular, there’s a good chance that they will be out of toilet paper (I always bring my own).
How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. If you’re not camping nearby you’ll likely want to chow down at the car before or after the hike.
Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You can either use your Forest, Discover, or Interagency Pass. If you don’t have one of these you can purchase a day pass from the Franklin Falls parking area.
Are Dogs Allowed? : Yes! They’ll be required to stay on a leash, and of course, you’ll need to pick up poo.
Can We Camp Here? : If you’re really lucky you might be able to nab a camping spot at the Denny Creek Campground, which is located near the trailhead, but if you don’t have a reservation it’s a loose bet. The campground is small and only has 3 walk-in spots (2 of which are for RVs). There are other less popular campgrounds nearby though. If you haven’t already done so, you should give Tinkham a try!
When is the Best Time to Visit? : This route is best taken when there is no snow or ice left on the ground. The area near the falls becomes inaccessible if icy. It is, however, a great summer hike! It’s almost completely shaded and the falls cool the area close by.
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