About an hour and a half from Tacoma is Wallace Falls, especially spectacular in spring and early summer.
Wallace Falls in Gold Bar is actually a series of falls most often referred to as lower, middle, and upper falls. Each area has its own overlook and its own beauty.
The first part of this hike follows a power line, but after a quarter-mile you will enter what feels like a magical forest, leaving the rest of the world (and those buzzing power lines) behind. Enjoy the views of Mount Index and the surrounding peaks.
When you reach a fork, you can take a left and continue along an old logging road, which isn’t as steep, but the journey to the falls will be longer and less scenic; it’s good for people on bikes. Or you can head right and take The Woody Trail if you are on foot, and want the better Wallace Falls hiking experience.
Look for a small “side” trail leading to a pretty little waterfall, where you can read interpretive signs about the area’s rich logging history, courtesy of local Eagle Scouts.
The first mile and a half of the trail is well-maintained, fairly flat, and easy to walk, even with kids in tow. There is an old picnic shelter at the first overlook — a good place to take in the beauty of the 265-foot falls. People with kids might stop here, take photos, and call it a day.
If you continue, the trail starts to climb more steeply on the way to the middle falls overlook. It’s not far, and worth it. Most people call it a day here. But if you want to climb to the upper falls overlook, it gets much steeper, and there is a series of switchbacks. The trail officially ends here.
This trail is popular, so it is best done early mornings or on weekdays to avoid crowds. When the snow level is above 1,500 feet, it is a wonderful winter getaway, too. Rainy days are less crowded, with the added bonus that the waterfalls look even more spectacular.
How To Get There
Head north on I-405 to WA-522 E and to US-2 E in Monroe. Take U.S. 2 E to Wallace Falls State Park.
Maps: Green Trails #142
Hike Distance: 5.5 miles round-trip, elevation gain 1,200 feet, highest point 1,500 feet.
Good To Know
A Discover Pass is required for parking and entry. Parking is limited; do not park on Ley Road. Limited walk-in tent camping is available. Dogs on leashes are allowed.