For hikers in the Northwest, spring
is a restless season, more about anticipation than
One weekend in April after discovering that snow
still covered the trails along I-90 we stopped at Snoqualmie
We were already hungry when we pulled into the parking
lot. I remembered picnic tables here so we brought our
backpacks full of lunch and drinks. We crossed the
from the parking lot. The Salish hotel perched at the
top of the falls was to the left. We turned right toward
the viewing area.
Snoqualmie Falls and Puget Sound Electric facility
The Upper Observation Area
|Winter was still becoming spring in Snoqualmie.
The Japanese Cherry trees had not quite bloomed. The
day was a little bit grey but not overly cold, wet or
We walked along the sidewalk and passed a photographer
adjusting a bride’s
Visitors, some dressed up and others dressed
casually lined the railing to look at the falls, but
it was not overly crowded. We joined them to
enjoy the beauty of Snoqualmie Falls.
On the day we visited, the water was at a normal level
for the season. Still, the force with which the falls
spilled over the crest was evidenced by the thick mist
enveloping the pool at the bottom.
Wanting to get closer we walked toward the river trail.
We discovered the picnic tables. Placed out of sight
of the waterfall, they were not the least bit
inviting. We were hungry, but we kept going.
Salish Lodge from the base of Snoqualmie Falls
The River Trail
We hiked to the base of the 270 feet tall Snoqualmie
Falls on the half mile of steep but finished trail
referred to as the River Trail.
At the bottom, we passed the Puget Sound Electric (PSE)
hydroelectric facility. This part of the trail was a
bit bizarre. The electric facility reminded us of a high
security detention facility or possibly a bomb shelter.
Even the footbridge was completely enclosed in chain
link fence. It occurred to me as I passed by, that an
interpretive station explaining the purpose of the facility
might be a good PR move on the part of PSE.
We followed the footbridge out to another viewing area.
Here too the presence of PSE was more ominous than inclusive.
Large signs warned visitors to stay on the wooden footbridges
and viewing areas. According to signs, the water level
might surge unexpectedly. After seeing pictures of the
falls at flood stage, I can understand the danger. Reaching
the beach required climbing over a railing and down a
rocky ledge. Despite the warnings, people were climbing
down to get closer to the falls.
Kayak at Snoqualmie Falls
|The Rest of the Way
|I decided as soon as I saw the falls from below that
walking to the bottom was worth the hike back up. The
falls were beautiful, the spray felt wonderful on my
face and the air had the fresh scent of mist.
This is where we decided to have our picnic.
We spent perhaps an hour eating lunch and watching
our fellow visitors. Then it was time to climb the
hill. Since this
was the first hike of the season my usual struggle
with elevation gain was intensified, but following
the wisdom learned from other hikers I kept climbing,
however slowly, instead of stopping to pant and rest.
On the way down, the trail had seemed quite long. Going
back up it was steep, but it seemed
shorter. Somewhere along the way, the endorphins did
their work. I ended up at the top and feeling wonderful.
After a rest at the picnic tables, we were ready to
|written by Dianne Bengtson
|photography by Dianne Bengtson
Hiking trails are closed for construction. Reopening scheduled in 2013.
River trail elevation gain is 300 ft over 1/2
Crowded on weekends in nice weather
In the know:
Sound Electric (PSE) maintains a power facility at Snoqualmie Falls and provides
public access to the falls.
Free parking, free admission
Wheelchair access to upper falls
Porta-potties at the entrancee and the base of
the River Trail.