Wallace Falls State Park is one of the many stunning parks in the state of Washington. It is situated on the western side of the majestic Cascade Mountains along the Wallace River. The main trail in the park is the stunning Wood Trail which is one of the most rewarding hikes to enjoy within a doable distance of Seattle and explores three stunning waterfalls.
Elsewhere in the world, the world's highest waterfalls are the Angel Falls in Venezuela (they are very difficult to visit). The world's largest waterfalls are generally considered to be the Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. There, one can see hippos, and elephants, and go white water rafting among the crocodiles.
Why Wallace Falls State Park Is Worth Visiting
Wallace Falls State Park is famous for its three picturesque waterfalls, as well as its three backcountry lakes, old-growth coniferous forests, and ruins of railroads from its logging past.
- Size: 1,380 acres (560 ha)
Wallace is not an English (or Scottish) name - instead, it is a corruption of the last name of Joe and Sarah Kwayaylsh. They were members of the Skykomish tribe and were the first homesteaders in the area.
The three famous waterfalls of Wallace Falls State Park are Upper Wallace Falls, Wallace Falls, and Lower Wallace Falls. The main highlight of the park is Wallace Falls.
- Upper Wallace Falls: Drops 240 Feet In Five Tiers
- Wallace Falls: Drops 367 Feet
- Lower Wallace Falls: Drops 212 In Five Tiers
In total, there are nine waterfalls in Wallace Falls State Park. Other activities in the park include mountain biking, fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, and rock climbing.
Hike The Popular Wood Trail To Wallace Falls
The best way to explore Wallace Falls State Park is to hike through it. It has some 12 miles (or 19 kilometers) of hiking trails and another five miles (or 8 kilometers) of biking trails.
Wallace Falls is one of the state's most popular attractions and draws many hikers. To avoid the crowds, consider starting out early from the Wood Trail trailhead. The trail is located near Gold Bar, Washington, and is considered moderately challenging, although some sources say it is reasonably family-friendly (at least until the last section). Note that in some sections, the rocks can be slick when they are wet (but that's mostly it for obstacles).
There are a series of switchbacks on the trail (between the Middle and Upper Falls) and a moderate elevation gain of around 1,300 feet. The relatively rough sections of the Wood Trail there are only brief. If this is too much, then forget about visiting the Upper Falls and just focus on the more accessible Middle and Lower Falls.
- Length: 7.9 km (out and back)
- Duration: Approx. 3 Hours To Complete
The best times to hike the Wood Trail is from May to October (but there are likely to be a number of other people also enjoying the trail). The trail leads through the lush evergreen forest with dense tree cover.
- Best Time: May To October
Dogs are permitted, but they must be kept on a leash.
The Middle Falls boasts the best panoramic views of the falls and the surrounding area (namely the Skykomish River Valley). Far in the distance, the outlines of the Olympic Mountains can be made out. The Upper Wallace Falls can't be fully seen.
Wood Trail Forks, Diversions, And Length
The Wood Trail trailhead is located at the parking lot. There are only basic facilities at the parking lot consisting of an information kiosk and restrooms.
Half a mile into the trail, it forks. The left branch is a detour to the old Railroad Grade (a longer bike-accessible path). The right branch leads to the Woody Trail and onto the waterfalls. Along the way, there are further diversionary paths leading to the Amphitheater and the Railroad Grade trail.
The Lower Falls are found two miles into the trail, and then it's another half mile to the Middle Falls with its impressive panoramic vistas. Those wanting to press on to the Upper Falls need to hike the half mile of switchbacks where the path terminates at 2.8 miles.
The trail is well maintained and is in great condition, according to Washington Trails Association (it is also maintained by the WTA).