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Wallace Falls State Park: 10 Exciting Things To Do

10 mins read
Wallace Falls State Park
By Girma Nigusse / unsplash Copyrights 2018

Wallace Falls State Park in Washington State? Are you looking to visit a State Park this time on your trip to Washington State, and do you want to explore the region unconventionally? Then visiting one of the State Parks is a good way to feel the essence of the place, soak in the sights and sounds of the area, and know how it feels to be away from the din of city life.

Wallace Falls State Park has a 265-foot waterfall, old-growth coniferous forests, and many lakes and streams that make it picturesque and a hiker’s paradise. Though Washington State Parks are popular, there is no State Park as iconic as the Wallace Falls State Park. Many trails in Wallace Falls State Park take to you to the three-tier waterfall.

For all those who love mountain biking, camping, hiking trails, fishing, boating, swimming, and rock climbing, a trip to the Wallace Falls State Park will be like a dream come true. The three major waterfalls of Wallace River are the Lower Falls, Middle, and Upper Falls.

The Lower Wallace Falls has a few tumbles before it cascades 212 ft down. The Middle Falls is majestic and falls down with a 260 feet drop. Many a time, only the Middle Falls are referred to as the Wallace Falls, and you get panoramic views of the distant peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Upper Wallace Falls has five drops, and the best way to experience all these waterfalls here is by going on a hike.

Once you leave the river, you reach the Lower Falls which is a covered area, and you can stop and rest here for a while. The hike up to the Middle and Upper Falls is strenuous. If you are looking to bask in the area’s picturesque beauty, there are two walk-in tent sites on a first come, first serve basis.

This State Park, with many camping sites, is spread across the shores of the Wallace River, Wallace Lake, Jay Lake, Shaw Lake, and the Skykomish River.

Wallace Falls State Park
By Kevin Ishimwe / unsplash
Copyrights 2021

Wallace Falls State Park

The Wallace Falls State Park is serene and secluded, an hour’s drive from Kansas City. It is located on the West side of the Cascade Mountains, and this wooded park is best for all those in search of a relaxing and rejuvenating time. Glaciers have shaped the landscape around the park.

The State Park boasts three waterfalls, three backcountry lakes, mountain rivers, old-growth coniferous forests, campgrounds, and hiking, and biking trails. You need not reach the top viewpoint to see the falls; you get sweeping views of the waterfalls along the way.

The park features three cascading waterfalls, the Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls, which form the area’s main attraction. It has 12 miles of hiking trails, backcountry camping, walk-in tent sites, and old cabins.

The lakes, waterfalls, and mounts here are named Wallace after the name ‘Kwayaylsh’ after Joe and Sarah Kwayaylsh, the first homesteaders from the Skykomish tribe in that region. The origin of the Park is associated with Washington State’s buying of the land from the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company in 1971.

Things To Do At Wallace Falls State Park

Looking for adventure, excitement, and some action? A trip to Wallace Falls State Park is a good option for adventure seekers and also for those looking for a family trip. There are many exhilarating things to do at Wallace Falls State Park, and the constant sound of gushing water accompanies you through the park.

The WTA (Washington Trails Association) has maintained the Park well, making it easy for hikers and other adventurers. There are toilet facilities just off the parking lot and in certain areas on the trail. The park office is open from 8 am to dusk.

Most of the hiking trails are family-friendly, and some of them even allow dogs on leashes on the trail. If you are planning a trip to Washington State and looking for some activities that will keep you connected with nature and the natural beauty of the region, a trip to Wallace Falls State Park is recommended.

Explore and indulge in the many things that can be done during your trip to the Park, soak in the splendorous charm of the waterfalls, the forest areas, lakes, rivers, and surrounding mountain peaks, and appreciate the raw beauty of the natural land of that region.

1. Big Eddy

Big Eddy, a Satellite Park five miles east near Wallace Falls State Park, is again a good place to visit if you are at Wallace Falls State Park. You can indulge in activities like fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and swimming while at the park.

Big Eddy is located on the West side of Stevens Pass and is managed by the State Parks; this area is undeveloped to a large extent. The sandy beaches at Eddy Park are one of the best swimming holes in the Skykomish River. Swimming is five miles east at Big Eddy along the Skykomish River.

2. Index Town Wall Trail

Distance – 3.5 Km

Type of Trail – Out and Back

Type of Elevation – 381 M

Difficulty Level – Hard

The roads on this trail are eroded, and though hiking trails happen here, it is better to try doing one of the other trails in the Park. The Index Town Wall Trail is a challenging hike and gives incredible views of Index Mountain, cliffs, and its surrounding areas. It is an amazing hike and a steep climb for all those who love hiking, and there are a lot of trees and waterfalls along the way.

3. Jay Lake Trail

Distance – 12.2 Miles

Type of Trail – Round Trip

Elevation Gain – 1,600 feet

Difficulty Level – Easy

Jay Lake is one of the camping areas in Wallace Falls State Park, and you are required to have a permit prior to arrival. You begin the hike by going towards Wallace Lake and then follow the Old Railroad Grade Trail for around 2.2 miles.

Once you arrive at the beginning of the Greg Ball Trail, follow it along the North fork of the trail, and then you will see glimpses of the river. Follow the West side of the lake, and you will reach the Jay Lake Trail.

There is a beautiful area where you can take a break with unsheltered picnic tables. Though Jay Lake does not have a shoreline that can be accessed by the public, the area is serene and wonderful. Make sure if you are camping to use only the designated campsites.

4. Mount Pilchuck Interpretative Trail

Mount Pilchuck, which is located 50 miles north of Wallace Falls, is managed by the Wallace Falls State Park and has a historic fire lookout. The trail explains the history of the lookout and gives names of the surrounding areas of the region. This one-quarter-mile interpretative trail is a nice hike if you are looking to explore the nearby attractions around Wallace Falls State Park.

There are other short interpretative trails that can be taken at the Wallace Falls State Park, which can give you an easy and short hike to marvel at the beauty of the place.

5. Railroad Grade Trail

Distance – 4.7 Miles

Type of Trail – Out and Back

Elevation Gain – 534 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

The Railroad Grade Trail is a great trail, moderately easy, scenic, and with splendid views of the State Park. It is not a crowded trail, so if you are looking for something exclusive and secluded, then this trail is the best. It is well-shaded, has an easy parking lot, and it is better to start early to avoid a busy parking lot.

6. Shaw Lake Trail

Length – 3.1 Miles

Elevation Gain -1,276 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate/Easy

Shaw Lake is the uppermost lake in the three-lake series in Wallace Falls State Park. The lake is located near Gold Bar and is open for fishing year-round. Since the lake is 2,075 feet above sea level, the hike can be challenging, especially if you are doing it during the winter months.

7. Wallace Falls Trail via Woody Trail

Length – 5 Miles

Type of Trail – Out and Back

Elevation Gain – 1,200 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderately Easy

The Wallace Falls Trail is one of the exciting trails in Washington State, and this out-and-back trail with moderate elevation gain is located near Gold Bar, Washington. The hike begins at the Wallace Falls Trailhead which is within the Wallace Falls State Park itself. The trail is hike-able year-round, and once you get to Gold Bar, you go on to Steven’s Pass highway.

The tranquillity and charm of the Wallace Falls State Park can be experienced best by going on the Wallace Falls Trail. You might need a Discover Pass for your vehicle entrance.

8. Wallace Lake Trail via Woody Trail and Greg Ball Trail

Distance – 14.2 km

Type of Trail – Out and Back

Elevation Gain – 604 m

Difficulty Level – Moderate

The hike takes you to Jay Lake, which is above Wallace Lake, and back through the Railroad Grade Trail and the Greg Ball Trail. There are four campsites adjacent to Jay Lake, and it is a well-maintained trail without much elevation. There are a lot of beautiful streams on the way that makes the hike exciting and alluring. Wallace Lake is extremely beautiful and breathtaking.

Woody Trail

The Wallace Falls State Park is one of the major attractions of Washington, and the Woody Trail in the park is one of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty of the place. The Woody Trail is a moderate hike, and the entire hike is well-marked, making it easy for everyone. Dogs on leashes are allowed on this trail and the trailhead is the parking lot. Swimming access near the falls is not given as it is too fast-flowing, and the swimming access is given at Big Eddy on the Skykomish River.

The Woody Trail hike is a rewarding experience, and the upper areas of the trail give sweeping views of the Skykomish River Valley. There is a rock climbing area near Mount Index, and it is better to pre-book one of the camping sites in advance.

9. Wallace Falls Loop

Distance – 9 Miles

Type of Trail – Roundtrip

Elevation Gain – 1,544 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

This trail is named after Greg Ball, the person who started the WTA trail maintenance program and is scenically wonderful. This forested loop trail gives fabulous views of the Olympic Mountains and explores the Wallace Falls State Park extensively as it passes through many waterfalls. The first steep climb on the trail is to the Lower Falls and the Middle Falls come just less than half a mile from the Lower Wallace Falls.

10. Wallace Falls and Wallace Lake Loop

Length – 11.1 Miles

Type of Trail – Loop

Elevation Gain – 2,086 feet

Difficulty Level – Moderate

This loop trail is near Gold Bar, Washington, and this trail is open year-round, and it gives access to both Wallace Falls and Wallace Lake. A Washington State Discovery Pass is required, and it is not that easy to get to the Upper Falls. The Middle Falls Overlook view is the best, and it is peaceful and quiet once you reach the lake area. The forest road gives shaded areas on the trail, and it is not a crowded trail.

Wallace Falls Cabin

If you are spending the night at Wallace Falls State Park, the Wallace Falls Cabins is within walking distance of the Woody Trail. It is a good way to get easy access to Wallace Falls and Wallace Lake. Each cabin can accommodate up to five persons.

The cabin features include a picnic table, picnic shelter, fire pit, electric heat, barbecue stand, lights, and locking door. There are bunk beds that can sleep three persons and a full-size futon bed for two. The park is extremely busy during summertime, and the parking space usually fills up by 11 am, so an early morning hike will be the best way to enjoy the hiking trails. Wood fires are allowed in the designated pits.

Apart from Wallace Falls Cabin, there is also the Wallace Falls Lodge which borders the Wallace Falls State Park. The Lodge is a ten-bedroom, ten-bathroom chalet that is used for rental purposes during vacations. It is located at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, an hour away from Seattle. The Wallace Falls Lodge can be used for a vacation rental if you are visiting Wallace Falls State Park, and many of them also use it as wedding venues and for business or club retreats.

The nearby attractions from Wallace Falls State Park are Stevens Pass which is good for skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and mountain biking, Kayaking and Whitewater Rafting which is just fifteen minutes away, and the rock climbing wall at the famous Index Wall, which is 20 minutes away horseback riding, and fishing in the Skykomish River.

The Bridal Veil Falls is one of the nearby attractions while visiting Wallace Falls State Park. The trailhead is just a few kilometers off Mount Index, and you get good views of Stevens Pass while on this hike.

What To Carry On Your Hiking Trip to Wallace Falls State Park

Going on a hiking trip? There are a lot of items that need to be taken along with you when you are going on a hiking trip. These are some of the items you can carry to make your trip comfortable for you.

  1. Appropriate Footwear/Hiking Boots

  2. Backpack

  3. Bear Spray

  4. Binoculars

  5. Cell Phone

  6. Camera

  7. Compass or other tools for navigation

  8. Extra set of clothes

  9. First aid kit

  10. Hand Sanitizer

  11. Head Gear/Caps/Hats

  12. Hydroflask

  13. Insect repellant

  14. Knife/Swiss Knife

  15. Map of the Park

  16. Packed food items

  17. Power Banks to keep your gadgets charged

  18. Raincoat

  19. Snacks/Munching Items/Energy Bars

  20. Sunscreen

  21. Torch/Flashlight

  22. Trekking Shoes

  23. Water

  24. Walking Pole/Stick

In case you are camping at Wallace Falls State Park, it will be better if you carry bed linens and blankets in a sleeping bag along with the above items.

Wallace Falls State Park Weather

It is important to be aware of the weather conditions before visiting any State Park anywhere and that is applicable when you are making plans to visit Wallace Falls State Park. The best time to visit this park is in April-October when the weather is not too cold, and there is no snow.

The waterfalls will be in their full glory in May, making it a good time to visit the State Park. Many of the trails in this park are year-round, so it depends on what you are looking to experience while going on a trip to a State Park.

In The End

Wallace Falls State Park
By Girma Nigusse / unsplash
Copyrights 2018

Wallace Falls State Park is one of the charming Washington State Parks and is worth a trip if you love nature and the outdoors. A discovery pass is required for vehicles to access the Washington State Parks, you can purchase a discovery pass for a year, and it is valid for one year from the date of purchase.

State Parks are always the best way to enjoy the landscape and natural beauty of the area, and the same applies while you are at Wallace Falls State Park. Be it the gurgling sound of the rivers and streams, the crystal clear waters of the lakes, the thunderous sound of the cascading waterfalls, the silence of the forest, and the chirping sound of the birds and insects, this is the place to be if you are looking for tranquillity and peace.

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mamta madhavan

Mamta Madhavan’s body of work includes web content writing, book reviews, interviews, articles, and poetry, mainly free verse. Her works have been published in various reputable journals and magazines worldwide. Living in creatively inspiring India, Mamta incorporates vivid imagery into her writings, influenced by nature, mysticism, and spirituality. Her poetry collection is titled connecting the dots.

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