About Twin Falls
Twin Falls seemingly felt like one of those locals only attractions that was charming in its own right, but lacked the notoriety and power of the nearby Snoqualmie Falls. When we first did this hike back on a Memorial Day Weekend in May 2006, we visited it right after doing Snoqualmie Falls. Indeed, we had to readjust our expectations for a more subdued and naturesque environment devoid of hydroelectric infrastructure and crowds. And once that was done, we found ourselves appreciating the beauty of a graceful 132ft waterfall with lush surroundings, which included some old growth fir trees. On a follow up visit in late July 2017, I noticed that they apparently re-routed and repaired the trail due to some flooding and landslides so it resulted in quite a different experience. Moreover, I extended the hike to check out some additional waterfalls further upstream from the one you see pictured at the top of this page.
After finding the trailhead in the Twin Falls Trailhead (see directions below), I hiked through a lush rainforest that immediately followed along the South Fork Snoqualmie River. For the first half-mile or so, the hike alternated between skirting the river and briefly veering inland amongst tall trees with moss growing on both the trunks and the branches as well as low lying ferns (both indicators of how much moisture the area typically would get). The close proximity of the trail to the river made me realize just how flood-prone the area can become. There were also some access spots for the river along the way (some of which had large boulders and rock formations). The terrain would remain flat until it reached a hill where I had to traverse a long switchback. At the top of this hill, there was a short spur to the right leading to a pair of benches with a distant partial view of the Twin Falls. This was said to be the 0.8-mile point of the trail.
Next, the path hugged a ledge before descending some steps then climbing again. This down-and-up profile was apparently the newly-built trail that re-routed around a landslide that occurred here in 2014 (part of the reason why I didn’t recognize this trail the second time around). I recalled the first time I did this hike that there was a sign before an old growth fir tree, but apparently I managed to miss it on the second time I did this trail. Anyways, the trail would continue its climb (with the faint sounds of the I-90 traffic getting louder the higher I went) before reaching a trail junction. Going right at this junction, which descended a series of 104 steps, led right down to the best viewpoint of the main drop of Twin Falls. After having my fill of the falls from here, I then had to climb back up the steps to return to the trailhead (making the hike 2.6 miles round trip), or continuing on.
I opted to continue on to see what other waterfalls could be found in the immediate vicinity. Well, it turned out that the trail eventually leveled out then descended some more steps towards a sturdy footbridge across the South Fork Snoqualmie River. From this bridge, I could see a pair of smaller waterfalls further upstream as well as the brink of the main Twin Falls as I looked downstream. While the pair of waterfalls upstream from this bridge may be referred to as the “Upper Twin Falls” and the whole ensemble may be referred to as the Twin Falls, it wasn’t clear to me what made these waterfalls “twins”. Regardless, after climbing a few more steps, I reached another fenced lookout with a more direct look at the upper drop of the “Upper Twin Falls”, where I was looking right into the sun on the morning of my hike (i.e. it’s bad for photos at that time). The trail would continue up more switchbacks as it headed towards the Homestead Valley Trailhead, but this lookout was my turnaround point (making this hike roughly 3 miles round trip from here).
When I returned to the trailhead, I was pretty surprised at how busy the trailhead became (this was around 8:20am on a Sunday morning after getting a 6:25am start). So despite its relative lack of notoriety compared to Snoqualmie Falls, Twin Falls was still quite a popular attraction.
We’ll pick up the driving directions from Seattle since that would be the most familiar starting point for visitors. So from the downtown area, we briefly headed south on the I-5 before heading east on the I-90. We then would stay on the I-90 east for a little over 25 miles (crossing over the floating bridge traversing Lake Washington and going past the Snoqualmie Falls Parkway exit along the way). We then took exit 34 for 468th Ave SE, where we then turned right to go south on 468th Ave SE. Then, after about 0.6 miles, we turned left to go onto SE 159th St (there was also a brown sign directing me to turn left there). In another 0.6 miles, the road terminated at the Twin Falls Trailhead.
Overall, according to GoogleMaps, this 36-mile drive would take about 45 minutes. It took me about 25 minutes to make this drive in light traffic from Issaquah. I had to pay and display the Discover Pass at $10 per vehicle as my Interagency Pass was not accepted here.
Finally for some geographical context, Seattle was 173 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of Portland, Oregon, 143 miles (about 2.5 hours drive not counting border crossing delays) south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and 1,137 miles (17 hours drive) north of Los Angeles, California.
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