Falls Creek Falls Hike
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Falls Creek Falls Trail: Read Before You Go!

Snuggled in the picturesque landscapes of Washington state’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Falls Creek Falls Trail will definitely be one of the most memorable waterfalls in Washington that you’ll see.

We have seen waterfalls around the world, and this one is still one of the best ones we’ve hiked to. It’s definitely one of the top waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge!

We’re going to share with you some essential tips before you head out.


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Falls Creek Falls Trail

Distance: 3 – 6.1 miles
Type of Trail: Out and Back / Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,279 feet

Other important notes:

  • Dogs are allowed
  • There is a fee for this trail – Display NW Forest Pass or pay $5 to park
  • There is one vault toilet at the trailhead
  • No cell service
  • You can do this as an out and back (don’t recommend) or a loop (our pick)
A long exposure photo depicting the two tiers of Falls Creek Falls in golden hour light.
Falls Creek Falls at golden hour.

Road Conditions And The Trailhead

Before you head out on your adventure to Falls Creek Falls, it’s essential to know what lies ahead.

The journey begins at the trailhead, but you have to get there first! It’s accessible via road NF3062, but it isn’t in the best condition. While any car can navigate this road, proceed with caution.

Nina hiking along a dirt path in the forest besides a sign for the Falls Creek trailhead.
Nina at the trailhead of the hike.

Gravel and potholes mean you need to drive slowly. Be aware that road conditions can become more challenging during the rainy season, with muddy and water-covered areas to navigate.

We made it through with Lucy (our ’74 VW Bus) during the spring season just fine. Once you turn off Meadow Creek and onto NF3062, you have about 2.5 miles to the trailhead. It’s only the last half mile or so that’s really bad.

Golden hour light rays shining down over Falls Creek Falls.
Get there early for the best light.

Despite this hike being tucked away in the forest, it does get busy! We arrived around 8:30 am, and there were only about 10-15 cars in the parking lot.

By the time we finished the hike after taking our time around noon, the entire lot was full, and people were parking on the side of the road!

Hiking to Falls Creek Falls

As you set foot on the trail, you’ll be greeted by the sounds of a rushing creek. The trail initially meanders alongside this picturesque waterway, flanked by magnificent mossy boulders and driftwood.

Nina standing on a steel bridge that crosses a small waterfall in the forest.
Bridges help you navigate the trail over small rivers.

Along the path, you’ll encounter several bridges that add to the trail’s character and adventure. Overall, the trail is pretty easy and well-maintained.

The trail gradually ascends, leading you closer to the majestic Falls Creek Falls. You’ll eventually start to hear it in the distance.

Nina crossing a wooden bridge on the forest.
Another bridge along the trail.

The waterfall’s size and beauty become more apparent as you approach and scramble up a few rocks. You’ll then be face-to-face with the falls! It’s honestly way more impressive in person than pictures can truly show.

Nina in a hiking attire standing at the base of Falls Creek Falls.
You understand the force of the waterfall up close

I didn’t think it was that tall and mighty until I was right there in front of it. It’s one of those spots where pictures do little justice! Do note the rocks here get misted by the falls and can be slippery.

For the adventurous ones, there’s even the option to descend to the creek area, getting you almost to the base of the falls. While not officially part of the trail, this side excursion offers another perspective of the falls.

Take care, though; this side quest isn’t for everyone and can be a bit sketchy in spots.

Long exposure photo of the two tiers of Falls Creek Falls.
It’s deceptively huge!


For those eager to explore further, side deviations lead to additional viewpoints. The first viewpoint, while offering a view of the falls, is relatively modest.

The second viewpoint reveals a partial view of the falls, framed by trees. Although the waterfall view is limited here, you’ll still enjoy some extra mileage and the chance to glimpse the surrounding hills and mountains.

View over the top of Falls Creek Falls from a viewpoint surrounded by giant trees.
Spot Falls Creek Falls!

If you don’t have much time, we say skip these views as they don’t offer up too much, but we enjoyed the extra challenge and steps.

Plus, it was an escape from all the other hikers and a perfect spot to munch your snacks without too many people around you.

Making it a Loop!

If you walk away from this article with anything, let it be this tip: Make it a loop!

Most people come here and go the out-and-back route, but we don’t recommend this at all. Continue with the side loop that takes you through a shaded forest canopy.

Nina sitting on a log overlooking a view of forests and mountains.
Enjoy plenty of views along the loop.

As you complete the loop, you’ll have the advantage of avoiding the main trail’s traffic on your return journey.

This route offers additional mileage for those seeking a longer hike, but it’s not much longer and, in the long run, will take less time since you won’t have to sidestep every few minutes to allow hike traffic to pass through.

Nina walking along a forest trail surrounded by huge trees.
Continue along the trail and make it a loop to avoid the crowds.

This is what we did, and we encountered only two other people on the way back! To find this trail that makes it a loop, on your way back out from the falls, you’ll see a detour, “Connector trail #152B.” It will be on your right-hand side.

Once you make it up the connector loop, you can go right to the viewpoints (or skip them) or head to the left, which will loop you back around to the parking area.

In short:

  • The full loop, including viewpoints and all – is around 6 miles round trip.
  • The full loop without the viewpoints – is around 5 miles.
  • Out and back to the falls – around 3 miles.

We hope this helped you plan your visit to Falls Creek Falls!

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