Franklin Falls

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!

A Weekend Guide to Snoqualmie + North Bend

The towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, located in the Snoqualmie Valley, are some of my favorite areas to visit when I find myself in Washington. This guide is an overview of what I consider the must-see spots in Snoqualmie and North Bend, and my idea of the perfect weekend spent exploring this area!

Day 1

Start your day off on the right foot by enjoying an indulgent brunch at the Salish Lodge & Spa. The Salish Lodge is a picturesque establishment situated right on top of Snoqualmie Falls. The dining room features stunning views of the surrounding forest and the Snoqualmie River, and the whole lodge feels cozy and welcoming. For brunch, I would highly suggest treating yourself to their country breakfast, a multi-course affair with fresh baked goods, pancakes, oatmeal, meat, eggs, and more. The highlight of this breakfast is the “Honey From Heaven” service where they drizzle house-made honey atop freshly baked biscuits. If you have the option, I’d also recommend pairing the breakfast with a mimosa or Snoqualmie coffee (both alcoholic).

After brunch, you’ll probably feel like going to your room and passing out, but I encourage you to take the time to explore Snoqualmie Falls. There’s an upper and lower park, and both offer uniquely beautiful views of the waterfall. The upper park is less than a minute walk from the Salish Lodge, overlooking the dramatic falls and Snoqualmie River. To access the lower park, you can either hike about 3/4 mile down along a gravel trail, or drive to the lower parking lot. From the parking lot, you can follow a boardwalk along the Snoqualmie River that will lead you to a viewpoint at the base of the falls. There are also a lot of informational signs and exhibits around the park to learn about the history of the falls and the Snoqualmie Valley.

Fun fact: I actually used to work at the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Museum, located across the river from the Salish Lodge! The museum is open seasonally during the summer, but I would check the website for updates before stopping by. The museum is small but mighty, packed with information about the history of the hydroelectric plant located within Snoqualmie Falls.

Once you’ve explored Snoqualmie Falls, it’s time to drive over to downtown Snoqualmie. Downtown Snoqualmie is small and quaint, consisting mostly of local shops, restaurants, and a few more museums. There are lots of small shops and boutiques to pop in and out of if you’re searching for souvenirs and locally-made goods. If you’d like to learn more history about the area, I also suggest checking out the Northwest Railway Museum, which educates visitors on the railroad in the region. The museum also hosts seasonal events like a Santa Train around the holidays and a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend in September.

If you’re starting to get hungry for lunch/dinner, I’d recommend Snoqualmie Falls Brewery, a low-key spot with great beer and food options. Remember to save room for ice cream though, as a visit to Snoqualmie Ice Cream is a must, and the perfect way to end your first day of adventures.

Return to your room at the Salish Lodge, curl up by the fire for a bit, and get a good nights rest before kicking off day 2!

Day 2

Snoqualmie and North Bend are surrounded by the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, which offers endless options for hiking. Near the Snoqualmie Valley you can opt for Mount Si, a difficult hike to sweeping views of the valley, or something more family-friendly, like Franklin Falls. I personally recommend Franklin Falls because the trail is short, easy to moderate in difficulty, and absolutely stunning. The trailhead is about 40 minutes from the Salish Lodge, making it a convenient destination for a quick morning hike. The trail itself is only about 2 miles roundtrip and will lead you to a 130′ waterfall. The setting is beautiful, though this hike does get quite popular, so try to head out early in the day, if possible.

After relaxing and freshening up following your hike, it’s time to head to North Bend, another picturesque town. North Bend is just about a 10 minutes drive from Snoqualmie, and make sure you look for elk along the way, as you can frequently spot herds beside the road. You’ll also be granted with beautiful views of Mount Si as you drive. Once in town, there are a number of small shops to explore, and even an independent theater that showcases classic films and hosts special events, like film festivals and comedy shows.

The real star of North Bend, however, is Twede’s Cafe, which you may recognize from the iconic show Twin Peaks. The diner was featured extensively in the show, and the staff are usually kind enough to show you some of the well-known filming spots and memorabilia throughout the restaurant if they have time to spare. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, Twede’s Cafe is like stepping back in time, making it a super fun dining experience. At the very least, you must enjoy a slice of cherry pie and an order of their “damn fine cup of coffee.”

And there you have it folks: my guide to an ideal weekend spent exploring Snoqualmie and North Bend. I hope you have an opportunity to visit these towns for yourself and experience their beauty and history, and I hope this guide provided you with some ideas on what to do and see!

How to Explore One of Washington’s Iconic Islands

Whidbey Island is one of the most underrated destinations in Washington, offering a number of activities for history buffs, hikers, and foodies alike. Whidbey Island may not be as well-known as Mount Rainier or downtown Seattle, but the island and surrounding areas provide a beautiful escape from the hustle of the mainland. If you only have one day to explore Whidbey Island, here’s exactly how to do it to get the most out of your trip. 

Begin your day by hopping on the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry which will take you directly to Whidbey Island. If you’re not a fan of ferries or don’t want to pay the fee, you’re more than welcome to drive via Deception Pass Bridge, but we’ll take that route on the way home. Mukilteo is another cool area to explore as well – check out my photo diary from a recent visit! 

Pro tip: swing by Southern Cross Espresso in Clinton for a quick cup of coffee. I highly recommend their London Fog as well!

From Clinton, begin the drive north to an area known as Ebey’s Landing. Ebey’s Landing is a historical preserve with beautiful hiking/walking trails that educate you on the island’s rich history and provide opportunities to spot wildlife. The historical preserve spans a few hundred acres, and my favorite area to explore is the Prairie Overlook Trail. For specific information on this hike, check out my adventure guide on Outdoor Project.

Pro tip: some areas in Ebey’s Landing require a Discover Pass, so come prepared!

You’ve probably worked up an appetite after exploring the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing, so it’s time for a quick lunch break. It’s a short drive over to Coupeville, a gorgeous coastal town with a number of restaurants and shops. If you’re craving fresh seafood, Front Street Grill is a great option located right on the water. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll see otters or seals, too! I also recommend Ciao Food and Wine for delicious pasta and desserts. 

After lunch, your next destination is Lavender Wind Farm. I had never been to a lavender farm before coming to Washington, and it has become one of my favorite summer activities. Lavender Wind Farm is u-pick, so you can stroll through rows of flowers and pick lavender as you go. Before leaving, stop by the on-site store for more lavender goodies like soap, bath salts, and lip balm.

Pro tip: the lavender u-pick season typically runs from May to September, so make sure to check the farm’s website before planning a visit. 

Now it’s time to make your way off the island, but the adventures aren’t over just yet. Instead of returning home on the ferry, I recommend making the drive over to Deception Pass State Park. This area is absolutely beautiful and a great place for families to visit, either for the day or a weekend. There are lots of walking trails through the forests or along the water, and plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife like eagles and otters.

Pass over Deception Pass Bridge, another iconic landmark that is stunning in and of itself, and you’ll find yourself on Fidalgo Island which soon connects you back to the mainland. Before driving home, swing by Snow Goose Produce in Mt. Vernon. Snow Goose Produce is a large country market with awesome local products like fruits and vegetables, hot sauces, seafood, beer and wine, and some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. There’s truly no better way to end the day! 

Pro tip: Snow Goose is another seasonal operation, so make sure they’re going to be open before making the drive over!

I hope you found this travel guide useful and incorporate some of these spots on your next visit to Whidbey Island!