Washington Hikes: Cherry Creek Falls

IMG_2855_LUCiDThe last time my parents visited I spent some time on the Washington Trails Association website looking up nearby hikes.

If you have any interest at all in spending time on the trail anywhere in the state, you HAVE to reference this website during your planning. It’s so well-organized, has so much great information, and gives you multiple ways to search and sort the type of hikes that best match your interests.

Based on my parents’ interests, I was looking for something within an hour drive of Lynnwood, about five miles roundtrip, and with relatively no elevation gain. (For some fantastic longer hikes with major elevation gain, check out my posts about hiking Mount Si and Dirtyface Mountain).

The clear winner was a nearby hike in the central Cascades called Cherry Creek Falls, which was five miles roundtrip with a 405-foot elevation gain. Perfect distance, length and intensity for the four of us to tackle in a morning!

We ended up with a full itinerary during my parents’ visit and didn’t end up completing the hike, but I kept it on my list. It immediately came to mind when Brian mentioned interest in heading out for a moderate morning hike so I quickly looked up how to get there and off we went.

As with several hikes in the area, this one required us to pass through some private land to access the trail. We found parking along a rather unassuming road– there was really no signage, we simply followed the directions and assumed we were in the right place when we found a few other cars– and walked back toward the intersection until we found the path.

There were a few other couples and groups also on the trail, but we quickly passed them. As the trail narrowed and we got deeper into the woods, the sounds died away and we were on our own. Occasionally we would spot a rusted out car in the overgrowth–not sure how they got there or why they remain, but they were pretty interesting and we had to stop and look. Beyond the cars there weren’t really any remarkable sites along the trail– it’s simply a beautiful walk through the woods.

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The trail was in good condition and easy to navigate. While there was no real elevation gain, there were considerable sloping hills, and I was thankful for my hiking poles. We enjoyed the sunshine streaming through the trees as we navigated through the brush, and eventually our path split in two directions– we opted to go left.

We seemed to be heading downward and soon found ourselves climbing down and across some extremely dry and rocky river beds. I started to wonder whether the falls would have much water left– everything around us was completely dried up.

After we crossed one fairly big river bed, I couldn’t seem to find the trail. Brian noticed some arrows made from rocks, and we followed them to a small clearing overlooking the falls!

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After taking a few pictures from the top we hiked down a fairly steep trail to the bottom of the falls. We climbed over a few fallen tree trunks and accessed a clearing in front of the small pool created by the running water.

A few other people were there as well, and one group walked over by the falls so one of the guys could jump in! He was hollering as soon as he hit the water– apparently it was freezing cold!

The women near me were commenting on how dry it was and that spring is really a better time to visit when the winter runoff has the falls overflowing. There are actually two areas of waterfall, but during our visit the left side was completely dried up and the right was basically a trickle. The pool of water was also very obviously low–Brian walked way out on the dried mud to take some pictures closer to the water.

After our time at the falls we hiked a small, overgrown trail back to the point where we had turned left. We headed back toward the road and as the trail opened up, we were surprised to find many more people hiking in.

If you’re looking for a simple hike near Steven’s Pass, I would recommend Cherry Creek Falls. It’s an easy/moderate, hike in/out trail and there’s a nice waterfall reward when you get to the turnaround point. If you are more interested in the falls than the hike, I would recommend going in spring or early summer before it dries out.

Happy hiking!

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