Harmony Falls

Location: South Cascades, Mt. St. Helens
Roundtrip: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Easy
Gain: 650 ft.
Rating: ★★★(.5)

Trail Map

Harmony Falls is a short, moderately steep, trail that offers expansive views. You’ll traverse a lush hillside and cross a small field before making the final descent to Spirit Lake. The shore of the lake still contains the remains of trees that were snapped off the mountainside in the famous eruption.

You’ll have to make your way across the logs if you want to wade or swim in the water; be careful!

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The water is cool and the view of the mountain from the end of the trail is spectacular. Harmony falls, on the other hand, was almost entirely buried when the lake level rose after the eruption. ‘Harmony Falls’ today is more like a short cascade of water as opposed to its previous impressive stature. That’s ok though, this hike is still very much worth the trek.

 

F.Q.A.

Are There Toilets? : There are vault toilets at a few trailheads along National Forest Road 99, but that does not include the Harmony Falls trailhead. If you need to use the bathroom stop at the Cascade Peaks viewpoint.

How about Picnic Tables? : Nope. You can eat at the car before heading down, pack in some lunch, or head down to the next viewpoint (Smith Creek).

Do I Need a Parking Pass? : Yes. You can use your Forest or Interagency Pass. If you don’t have one of those you can purchase a day pass for $5 from the Cascade Peaks viewpoint.

Are Dogs Allowed? : No. Pets are prohibited within the monument.

Can We Camp Here? : Campgrounds near this side of the monument include Iron Creek and Tower Rock, though they are a bit of a dive. There are no campgrounds within the monument itself.

When is the Best Time to Visit? : This area is closed in winter; check the area’s status here if you’re visiting late-season. Summer is the best time to visit.

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Franklin Falls

Location: North Bend, WA
Roundtrip: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 400 ft.
Rating: ★★★

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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.

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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.

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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!

F.Q.A.

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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Snoqualmie Tunnel

Location: Snoqualmie, WA
Roundtrip: 5.3 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Gain: 0 ft.
Rating: ★★★★

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The Snoqualmie Tunnel was opened in 1914, and it was originally used as an underground section of “The Milwaukee Road” (a railroad that ran between Chicago and Seattle).

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The railroad no longer travels this path, which now stands as part of the Iron Horse Trail. The trail is available for hikers as well as bicyclists and offers a unique experience to those brave enough to trek inside. The trail is nearly a straight shot from one end to the other and lacks any significant elevation changes. This makes it the perfect place for a spooky early fall stroll (or bike ride!).

*Please note that this trail is CLOSED from November 1st to May*

Make sure to display your Discover Pass when parking along the trail, and don’t forget to bring lights and a jacket! There are flushing toilets and picnic tables at the trail head. You’ll hike a little over 2 miles before reaching the next good stopping point at the other end of the tunnel, which also has picnic tables and a vault toilet.

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If you have an adventure pup that won’t be bothered by the new environment feel free to bring them along! Do be mindful that many people enjoy this trail so make sure to be polite, and safe, by moving right for faster travelers.

If you’re feeling good once you exit the tunnel you can always add some length to your trip by continuing down the Iron Horse Trail a bit farther before turning around. There are some great views this way!

Above all, stay safe and have fun! If you decide to give this trail a try do let us know what you think!

If you happen to have any questions that were not addressed in this post feel free to comment or shoot us a message as well.

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