Hiking Lenght: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Hiking Time: < 2 hours
Since I was born next to Seattle I had the opportunity to do over twenty hiking trails, but Franklin Falls Trail is something I would recommend to everyone.
The Pacific Northwest and the Seattle area have their fair share of majestic waterfalls to hike, but one of the most popular ones (and a favorite of mine) is the 70-foot Franklin Falls, Washington.
Located in an area about an hour outside the city, this relatively easy hike provides a needed respite from all of the hustle and bustle.
Almost anyone can tackle it, and it’s a great one to consider if you want a shorter adventure that does not require the entire day to complete, making it a favorite one for families.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the Franklin Falls hike, a popular trail in Washington, including how to get there and tips to make the most of your visit.
Franklin Falls Trailhead (Starting Point)
The Franklin Falls trailhead is off of I-90 in North Bend, Washington. It is part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest area. In the summer months, you can park at a lot close to the trailhead.
However, in the winter, this access point is closed and you must start at a different location, accessed from Asahel Curtis Sno-Park.
How to Get to the Starting Point
Franklin Falls is a lovely hike close to Seattle and you can get to Franklin Falls by following the next directions.
If hiking in spring-fall, take I-90 to exit 47.
Turn north off the exit, drive across the overpass, turn right at the “T.” Drive approximately 0.25 miles, and turn left on Denny Creek FS Road #58.
Continue down the road for 2.5 miles and once you see the campground, turn left onto the paved road.
You’ll see the Franklin Falls parking area on the left in about 200 feet. The trailhead will be on the right.
If hiking in the winter, you need to start from the Asahel Curtis Sno-Park.
Follow the directions for the regular parking area, except that after you turn right at the “T,” you will immediately see the beginning of the Sno-Park and the parking for it along the road.
Franklin Falls Trail Description
Franklin Falls trail is about 2 miles round trip and 400 ft elevation gain. Most of the terrain is relatively flat, making the ascent to the waterfall gradual and not strenuous.
The path is clearly marked along the way, and there are numerous resting points. Even small children should be able to handle the trek, and it is suitable for dogs as well, as long as they are on a leash.
The well-maintained path follows the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. You’ll begin the walk amongst a canopy of trees with glimpses of deep pools and the river below.
About a mile into the walk, you will be able to start to see the falls, and there is a viewing area on the trail.
The level terrain will continue for most of the rest of the hike, but once you approach the falls, you will need to climb down some rocks to reach the base, where the viewing is better.
This part is the most challenging part of the hike but is not terribly difficult. However, these rocks are often quite slick, so it is important to use caution.
Once at the base of the falls, look up at the majestic 70-foot of water gushing down. On a hot day, you’ll enjoy the refreshing spray from the waterfall and can rest and enjoy a snack there.
The trail is open year-round, but you will need to access it differently in the winter months because the road to the parking area is often closed because of snow.
This closure means you need to park on Denny Road, and it adds about 2 miles to your walk to get to the trailhead. You will also need to walk the extra 2 miles back to your vehicle at the end.
Consider bringing snowshoes, and hiking poles if trekking in the winter, and know that the snow on the trail can be pretty deep. Here you can check our advice on hiking in the snow.
Pay attention to the Franklin Falls weather as there is also a warning about possible avalanches when hiking it during this time (especially at the waterfall basin).
This trail will often be quite busy and crowded as many people who camp at the popular Denny Creek Campground hike it frequently.
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Hiking Franklin Falls Tips
Although this is a kid-friendly hike, you will not want to bring a stroller because of some steps and the rocky part at the end.
The closest parking lot to the trailhead only holds about 30 cars, so it is best to come early on days when it will be busy, like weekends.
There is a restroom available there to use before and after your hike. There are no garbage receptacles on the path, so make sure that you pack back with you anything you bring in.
Finally, consider wearing shoes with good traction to make it easier to pass by when you reach the slippery rocks.
Best Time to Hike
Although open year-round, the best time to do the Franklin Falls hike is in April-July because the waterfall will be at its fullest.
If hiking Franklin Falls in the winter months, you will need appropriate boots and microspikes for winter hiking, know your risk of avalanches by monitoring the conditions of Franklin Falls, and prepare for the extra 2 miles or so to walk to the beginning of the trailhead.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Franklin Falls hike is a total round trip distance of 3 miles from the Franklin Falls parking lot. It should take the average person approximately 1-2 hours to complete.
Franklin Falls is located in Snoqualmie pass in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest area of North Bend, Washington. It is along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.
Franklin falls is an easy hike that hikers of all levels and the whole family can enjoy. The ascent is gradual and it is mostly on level terrain except for the last descent to the basin of the falls, which is slightly rocky. The paths are well marked, and periodic steps help with the climb.
Franklin Falls is open all year long. However, in the wintertime, the road to access the parking lot is often blocked by snow. These conditions can add a bit of a challenge to the trip. You will need to park on the side of the road and hike an extra 2 miles to get to the start of the trailhead.