Franklin Falls is a 2 mile out-and-back hike in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that’s perfect for hikers of all experience levels.
The trailhead for Franklin Falls is located about 25 minutes outside of North Bend on Denny Creek Road, just past the campground. While you can enjoy Franklin Falls year-round, Denny Creek Road does tend to close in the winter which will add 4 miles roundtrip to your hike. Franklin Falls is also a very popular destination for hikers, photographers, and families, so try to visit during off-times (such as weekdays or early mornings) when possible.
Pro tip: parking is $5/day or free with a Northwest Forest Pass – more info at fs.usda.gov.
The trail runs parallel to the Snoqualmie River most of the way and, with only 400′ of elevation gain in total, is very family-friendly. The river does flood on occasion which may make the trail exceptionally washed out or muddy, so be prepared to get a bit soaked along the way. It’s also fun to spot the gorgeous A-frame cabins along the river as you hike.
After a mile, you’ll begin to hear the roaring of Franklin Falls and soon, you’ll spot the stunning 130′ waterfall. Be careful as you hike downward over slippery rocks to the base of the waterfall and take in the full beauty of the falls.
A short hike back will return you to your car to carry on with more adventures! Franklin Falls is one of my favorite hikes in the area because you get a stunning view for minimal effort, so let me know if you’ve visited or plan to soon!
Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the most unique and ruggedly beautiful areas the state has to offer. From a dense rainforest to rocky beaches and quaint coastal towns, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. If you get the opportunity to explore the Olympic Peninsula for yourself, here are some must-visit spots to include on your itinerary!
Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach
Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach is an incredible rock feature that shows you firsthand just how uniquely beautiful Washington’s coast can be. Rialto Beach is located within Olympic National Park, so be sure to pack your national park pass, or you’ll have to pay $30 per car to enter. The Hole-in-the-Wall feature is roughly 1.5 miles from the Rialto Beach parking area (so just about 3 miles roundtrip).
Note: this trail becomes inaccessible at high tide, so checking the tide schedule is key!
From the parking area, head north along the rocky shoreline toward the towering rocks ahead. Soon, you’ll catch a glimpse of the incredible, naturally-formed arch known as Hole-in-the-Wall. If the tide is low enough, you may also see a number of tidal pools with sea creatures like starfish and barnacles. Overhead, keep an eye out for a variety of seabirds and the occasional eagle, and don’t forget to check the ocean for signs of otters or even whales. Hole-in-the-Wall offers some stunning views for minimal effort, making it a great option for families and hikers of all experience levels.
I was shocked when I first learned that one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. was located in Washington state, and seeing it for yourself is a truly amazing experience. The Hoh Rainforest is also located in Olympic National Park, and is easily accessible from the town of Forks, another popular destination. There are a number of hiking options to explore the Hoh Rainforest, though I would recommend the Hall of Mosses and the Hoh River Trail. The Hall of Mosses Trail is an incredible hike considering it is less than one mile in length and will take you through towering trees and, you guessed it, thick blankets of moss. If you only have time to do one hike, or you want to get the most bang for your buck, the Hall of Mosses Trail should be your first choice. If you have a little more time to explore, the Hoh River Trail is another great option. Though the trail is 18.5 miles one-way, ending at Blue Glacier, it only takes about one mile from the Visitor Center to reach the Hoh River itself. I recommend at least making the trek to the river because the water is crystal clear, flowing directly from the Hoh Glacier on Mount Olympus.
The village of La Push, located within the Quileute Reservation, is a gorgeous spot for views of forested coastal islands and dramatic sea stacks. The village itself is small, though it does offer some food and lodging options, and the area of First Beach in particular is worth a stop for views of the Pacific and a chance to see some wildlife (we saw a young eagle on our last visit). These beaches aren’t like the ones you may be used to seeing in California or Florida: they’re typically very rocky and often scattered with driftwood of all shapes and sizes. First Beach is also a popular destination for surfers, and though I’m not much of a surfer myself, it is fun to watch and admire from the shore.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is another fascinating natural feature located in Kalaloch, just south of La Push. The Tree of Life can be found just off the 101 Highway, near the Kalaloch Campground. Once at the campground, simply walk down the stairs and bear right along the beach. Soon, you will see the precariously perched tree for yourself. The roots of the tree actually form a cave, though I would caution visitors from spending too much time climbing under and around the tree, as erosion is clearly taking its toll. Though you may not spend an extended period of time at the Tree of Life, it’s a truly unique sight that is well worth a detour in my mind.
I’d also like to mention that while the town of Forks may be worth a stop for mega Twilight fans (hey, I don’t judge!), it is very small and quiet, and isn’t a must-visit in my opinion. The town does offer some easy access to fishing spots which may appeal to some, and it can serve as a good home base for visiting all of the spots I’ve listed above. When we first visited the Peninsula for a few nights in 2020, we camped at 3 Rivers Resort in Forks, which was a very comfortable and budget-friendly option!
I hope you found this guide helpful and use it as a source of inspiration when planning your visit to the Olympic Peninsula. Keep in mind, there are many other towns and areas worth visiting that I didn’t mention here, so make sure you do your research and visit as many spots as you can!
Check out the original photo diary from my last visit right here!
Barclay Lake is a fantastic day hike located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. If you’re looking for a relatively short and family-friendly hike, this trail is a great option!
Pro tip: don’t forget your Northwest Forest Pass! For more information, visit fs.usda.gov.
The trailhead for Barclay Lake is located near the town of Baring at the end of a fairly rugged forest service road. This trail is super popular so make sure you arrive early to claim your spot at the trailhead parking lot. This 4.4 mile out-and-back trail departs directly from the trailhead, leading you gradually downhill through a thick forest. Eventually, you’ll begin to follow Barclay Creek, meandering your way through dense foliage.
Pro tip: If you visit on a clear day make sure to keep an eye out for some views of Mt. Baring along the way.
You’ll gain about 200 feet of elevation as you head to the lake, and after about a mile you’ll cross a bridge over Barclay Creek which is a great photo op! It won’t be long before you reach Barclay Lake itself, a picturesque Pacific Northwest lake framed by evergreens and jagged peaks.
Pro tip: be prepared for the lake’s water level to vary significantly depending on the time of year you visit. When I first visited in July 2020, the lake was fairly high, but this time around in August, it was significantly lower.
There are a number of campsites and opportunities to take a lakeside snack break as you meander around Barclay Lake. No matter where you stop for a rest or set up camp, you’ll be treated to some gorgeous views in a peaceful and serene setting.
Barclay Lake is one of my favorite hikes in Washington, and I’m sure it’ll become one of yours too! Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited Barclay Lake before and what your thoughts were.
Directions: from the town of Monroe, head east on US-2 toward Baring. After roughly 25 miles you will see The Baring Store on your right; at this junction, turn left onto 635th Place NE. You will cross over railroad tracks and soon the road will become unpaved. Follow this road for about 4 miles until you reach the Barclay Lake Trailhead. More detailed information available at WTA.org.
If you get the opportunity to visit the beautiful state of Washington, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the hikes and amazing areas to explore. I’ve spent a good amount of time visiting and even living there and I have still only seen a tiny fraction of everything it has to offer! Today I’ll share with you some of the hiking areas in Washington that I’ve come to love so you can have some guidance for your next trip to Evergreen State!
Mount Rainier National Park
This one may seem like an obvious choice, but Mount Rainier National Park is such a well-known national park for a reason. It is one of the most beautiful national parks I’ve visited and has some amazingly unique landscapes that are hard to find elsewhere in the United States. Mount Rainier itself is an incredible sight that I never get tired of seeing, and the park has tons of hikes ranging in difficulty. Not only are the views in the park amazing pretty much anywhere you go, but you’re sure to see some wildlife as well. Last time we visited we saw elk and a bear! Mount Rainier National Park is well worth the visit and a national park I think everyone should visit in their lifetime.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a massive area that includes the western region of the Cascade Mountain Range. A large portion of the national forest is located just about an hour east of Seattle, and that specific area is one of my favorites. This National Forest offers almost countless hikes ranging from fairly easy to very challenging. Some of my favorites include Heybrook Lookout, a short but steep hike to a fire tower, and Barclay Lake (check out my photo diary from that hike here)! Whether you’re in the mood for a casual hike to a stunning lake or a viewpoint of the mountains, or you’re ready for a challenging summit or scramble, the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has it all!
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and has some of the most diverse landscapes in the entire state. The park is home to forests, alpine areas, a rainforest, and beaches, so it truly offers anything you could be looking for. The rainforest is an amazing place to stroll through massive trees covered in thick moss while the beaches are rocky and dramatic. As a bonus, for any Twilight fans out there, the town of Forks is located just 30-40 minutes outside of the park and is an awesome little spot to check out as well. Hikers, photographers, and fishermen alike will love this area and everything it has to offer.