Monday, April 14, 2008

Wallace Falls and Wallace Lake loop hike (early season)

Quick facts
Driving distance from Seattle: 1 hour
Hiking distance: 8.5 miles (13.7 km)
Elevation gain: 1300 ft (400 m)
Green Trails Map: 142 (also request a map from the rangers at the trail head)
Driving map: try this google map
Permits: No permits or fees requires for a day hike.
Ranger station phone number: 360-793-0420

Wallace Falls is a very popular destination. Unfortunately, many visitors stop at Lower Falls, less than a mile in. Granted, there is a picnic shelter there, but the best views are from the Middle Falls lookout. In general this is an easy hike and we enjoyed it as an early season warm-up before other hikes become accessible.

Unlike most visitors, we made it into a loop hike. We started by following the woody trail to the Upper Falls. At the beginning the trail was very crowded but past Middle Falls we had it almost entirely to ourselves. From upper falls we followed blue signs up hill toward a logging road -- it is a steep but brief climb with no trail visible but the blue markers on the trees are easy to follow. We followed the road West for about 2 miles and eventually turned off toward Wallace Lake. Clear signs are posted at all important intersections so route finding was no problem at all (though it was helpful to get a map from the rangers at the trail head). Interestingly, half way from the Upper Falls to the lake we ran into snow and had to walk on it till just past the lake. The picnic tables near the lake were under a couple of feet of snow so we lunched on the floating driftwood on the lake (careful, some of it really is floating and will not support your weight!). Then we followed the recently completed Greg Ball trail (thank you WTA volunteers!), which joins the main trail just below the Lower Falls. From there we returned to the parking lot. The whole thing took us under 5 hours including a leisurely lunch.

[Middle and Lower Falls as seen from the Lower Falls lookout]

[Some words of wisdom from the park service]

Driving Directions:
Drive to Gold Bar, WA (on Rt. 2) and from there follow the signs to Wallace Falls State Park. The route is very clearly marked.


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