Washington Trails: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/franklin-falls
Location: 47.4130, -121.4416
Mountain Range: Snoqualmie Pass
Distance: 2 miles, roundtrip
Time: 1hr (2hrs in the snow if you have to dodge and/or help cars that are stuck)
Elevation gain: 400 ft.
Highlights: easy hike that ends with a spectacular waterfall
Date Completed: December 12, 2015
You’ve seen the photos—Washington’s unofficial “most-Instagrammed” waterfall—and you wonder if it’s really all that cool. Franklin Falls is a photographer’s dream. A wild and tall falls just a quick 30 min walk to and fro, that’s suitable for absolutely any age and capability (read: very easy). It’s worth walking to in the rain or snow, and I’m looking forward to getting back there when it’s frozen. Beware the roads on a snowy day and enjoy a quick walk in the woods.
Getting there is simple enough, as the trail road is just off the highway. **Serious tip:** If it’s snowing, or there is already a foot of snow on the road, park on Erste Strasse road instead of the National Forest road. If you’re going to park on NF-58, there are a few great spots out of the snow under the first and only overpass. It may have added an extra 20 minutes to our trip time (above), but the trail is easy so we welcomed the extra exercise.
The trail itself is very short. I’d say only 10 minutes tops, with few inclines. There are steps at the end though, that can seem dangerous for small children or clumsy adults, but by the time you get there you’re already at the falls. Franklin Falls is the first of three major waterfalls on the South Fork of Snoqualmie River.
What no one tells you, and you’ll very rarely see in photos of the falls, is the huge concrete bridge above it. Positioned just far enough away to the left that photogs can avoid it, means it came as a surprise to me and would have to you had I not just told you. Sorry, not sorry. If you’re expected to feel secluded on the “hike” then I suggest you find a different one. There will be lots of people, lots of cars, a highway and a big bridge in view. That’s not to say the falls isn’t handsome, because he is. Just setting some expectations.
I almost liked the view away from the falls more than the falls itself. There’s a really pretty stream lined with snowy evergreens. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few moments to yourself at the falls. When it’s crowded there will be lots of photographers, families and out-of-towners, but the more the merrier right? You can certainly see why Franklin Falls is blowing up on Instagram feeds across the evergreen state. While some people are critical of the mass of trendy photogs hiking in Washington, I say: more power to you! If you can hike the same mountain as I, in a far more trendy and polished outfit, and spread the joy of Washington’s amazing backyard then I think you’re doing a job well done.
I can’t wait to get back to the falls when it’s frozen over. We missed the opportunity by a week, since Washington had just gotten a really warm few days, but it’s still on our Washington bucket list. Add it to yours, too!
Spoiler Alert: Trail Play-By-Play
1 minute off the highway to the forest road
Walk along the highway for 15 minutes
Don’t miss the trailhead, it’s hidden right at the end of the S-curve
Quick slightly uphill walk in until you hit the wood fence
Right 2 minutes to the falls