Monday, February 20, 2017

Hike of the Week, Part A : Wallace Falls

Despite the drizzle, we got up and out before 8am to head north to our hike of the week: Wallace Falls, in Gold Bar.

We had heard that the parking lot gets full quite early in the summer, but at 9am on a drizzly winter Saturday there were only a handful of cars. (However, by the time we were ready to leave, the lot was 80% full ... and all of those NO PARKING BETWEEN SIGNS notices on the road up to the trailhead made sense.

We had decided to hike out to the falls, but I think we will come back another day for another hike out to the lake.

Our destination: the Upper Falls viewpoint, 2.75 miles away. We had a slight hesitation at seeing the trail designation as "difficult", but figured we would just set off and turn back if we didn't like the trail or the conditions.

The trail started off as a wide, bland, gravel path.

We walked under the crackling power lines for a couple of hundred yards -- yes, we could hear the crackling. Is that because it was drizzling? Or does it always sound like that?

our usual view, I suppose...

But soon we turned into the forest.

We carried on through the forest before reaching a fork in the trail. We could choose to follow the longer, gentler railroad grade trail, or we could follow the Woody Trail. As the Woody Trail followed the river more closely, we chose it. (Of course!)

Amusing: "Woody Trail" isn't a description ... it's named after Senator Frank Woody, who helped fund the Youth Development Conservation Corps program in Washington State.

No mountain bikes on the Woody Trail!

We caught our first glimpse of the river, 

crossed a bridge across one of the forks

and walked deeper into the woods.

We saw the appropriately named "Small Falls"

another view of the Wallace River

and started ascending.

The trail was well maintained and, despite all the rain we've been having, not particularly muddy other than in a few spots.

We pulled off at one viewpoint to see the Olympics in the distance. Nope.

But soon we came to a viewpoint for the lower falls.

Then back on the trail, where we spotted this handsome tree. Or two trees. You decide.

A short climb, and then we popped out at the Middle Falls viewpoint.

Wil at the Middle Falls viewpoint

We took a little break at the Valley Overlook...

Things were a little clearer, but not really....

The last stretch was pretty steep and had some switchbacks.

It was, indeed, "More Difficult".

But, yes, it was worth it.


We watched the water rush over the edge for a bit, had a piece of tofu jerky (yeah, it's actually okay, but I'd marinate it rather than baste it next time...) and enjoyed having the falls all to ourselves.

It's possible to go a little past the falls on a non-maintained -- though decently marked, we've read -- trail. But I think this sign at the trail end says a lot:

"perhaps you are not prepared to continue beyond this point"
Headed up the trail we only passed 4 hikers and saw 5 more coming down. On our way down, however, we started to see more hikers on their way up, and by the time we reached the trailhead we had probably passed 50 people. But even that left us with a lot of quiet woods, mossy rocks, lush ferns, and rushing water.

We got back to the trailhead feeling happy and pleased that we'd gotten up and gone for a hike. As we drove home Wil asked "Where are we going tomorrow?" And, while I hadn't planned on going anywhere until the next weekend, well... you'll have to wait and see. 

Wallace Falls Hike
5.6 miles
1500 feet elevation gain

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