Middle wallace falls with a big rainbow over the middle surrounded by trees.

Wallace Falls Hike: The Best Waterfall Trail in Washington

I’ve hiked the Woody Trail to Wallace Falls three times, and it’s one of my favorite hikes in Washington. Wallace Falls State Park is one of the gems that does not get the attention it deserves, and hopefully, these photos and guide convince you to visit.

The Wallace Falls hike is a magnificent three-waterfall buffet that gets better and better as you continue along the trail.

I hiked this with my parents in May of 2023 and loved the views, waterfalls, and lush forests. Inside is my complete guide to give you everything you need to know and some pretty grand photos.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy it!

Your Guide to Washington’s Wallace Falls

two hikers - one male one female - walk on a bridge
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

One-Minute Wallace Falls Trail Guide

Here’s what you need to know about the Wallace Falls hike in Washington.

  • Distance: AllTrails says 5. My hiking watch said 6 during my most recent hike.
  • Difficulty: Moderate. I hiked it three months after a bone marrow transplant (and was tired)
  • Expected Time: 3-4 hours (if you’re taking photos, it could be longer)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 via AllTrails; hiking watch said 1,360.
  • The best time to see rushing waterfalls: April through June (photos inside are from May and January)
  • Can you bring a dog? Yes, you can. Please leash and clean up after them
  • What pass do I need? Discover Pass
A waterfalls surrounded by trees and rock flowing from the left to the right.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

What You Need to Know About Wallace Falls State Park

How to get to the Wallace Falls Trailhead

The Wallace Falls hike is located just outside the city of Gold Bar on Washington’s Highway 2. It is about a 75-minute drive from the Seattle area. There are various routes, but the most straightforward is driving north on I-5, getting onto the 405 South, and then heading east on 522 until it turns into SR-2.

What does it cost to visit Wallace Falls?

The parking cost for Wallace Falls is pretty decent. It’s $10, or you can use your Northwest Discover Pass for Washington State Parks. For $30, getting the Annual Pass is a fantastic way to save money over the year.

What Is Wallace Falls?

Wallace Falls is one of the most beautiful hikes in Washington. It’s a three-waterfall hike through beautiful forests and along a charming river. We’ll dive into it more below!

a creek running in the forest
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Hiking to see the Three Waterfalls on the Wallace Falls Trail

Hiking Wallace Falls via the Woody Trail

From the parking lot, you’ll start hiking on the Woody Trail. Weirdly, you’ll leave a forest and quickly hike in an open area under power lines. Thankfully, this ends shortly.

At the half-mile mark, you’ll begin hiking alongside the river. It’s beautiful and really makes for a lovely trek. Further along, you’ll come to a junction for the Greg Ball Trail. You do not want this. Keep going straight on the Woody Trail. So far, you’ve mostly had a flat trail with some gentle roller-coasting.

From here on, the trail will begin to gain elevation towards your final destination, Upper Wallace Falls.

one of the upper wallace falls waterfalls on the hike.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Once you reach the 1.7-mile mark, you’ll come across your first waterfall.

Welcome to Lower Wallace Falls. The next half mile will net you the most elevation gain. Luckily, you’ll see the Middle Wallace Falls and take a break if needed. In my opinion, this is the most impressive of the waterfalls!

You only have a short walk from here until you reach the upper ralls.

These three waterfalls offer some of the best bang-for-your-buck views in Washington.

How long does it take to hike up Wallace Falls?

I anticipate most people completing the hike in three hours. It might take longer if you’re taking photos (I’m guilty) or simply sitting and taking in the views. But for those in decent shape or on a mission, you should easily cruise up and down this hike.

a picture of dark branches in the forest
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is the hike hard?

It’s a moderately challenging hike, but most day hikers can do it. While the elevation gain is only 1,500 feet, most of it is in the trail’s second half, which could tire some people.

That being said, my 63-year-old mother was able to do it. Additionally, I was three months post-cancer treatment and a bone marrow transplant, and I was able to complete it. (I was tired at the end, though.)

(Or check out this article.)

Photos inside Wallace Falls State Park

Lower Wallace Fall

lower wallace falls pouring out of the rocks
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
a river with a waterfall at the top of the image
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Middle Wallace Falls

a close up shot of the middle wallace falls and a rainbow
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
Middle wallace falls with a rainbow cutting across the middle. there's a lower falls at the bottom of the image too.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Upper Wallace Falls

A waterfall in the center of the state with rocks and trees around it.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The Best Time to Hike to Wallace Falls

In my opinion, the best time to do the Wallace Falls hike is between April and June. I personally did it in mid-May, and the waterfalls were gushing! We have so much snowmelt in Washington that it could easily continue into July.

So don’t worry if you’re visiting in the summer months. The waterfalls will be amazing.

Another good time to visit would be after some classic Washington rainstorms. While it may not be as great as during snowmelt, you should still get a decent show for your hike.

Middle wallace falls with a big rainbow over the middle surrounded by trees.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Is there a time of day I should visit?

There actually is! If you want to see a rainbow, you should visit in the early afternoon. This gives the sun time to get behind you, and when it hits the mist coming up from the falls, you’ll get a gorgeous rainbow like you see here.

Moss hands on a tree in washington with a little bit of sunlight coming through
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Other Things to Do in Wallace Falls State Park

Another great hike is to head up to Wallace Lake. It’s longer and steeper, but the view is beautiful. It will also be slightly less crowded than the more popular Wallace Falls hike.

This trail is about 9 miles long with 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

straight thin trees in the forest
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

You’ll start on the same trail and then turn left at the 1.5-mile mark, where a sign directs you to Wallace Lake. Another route you could take is the Railroad Grade Trail, which turns into the Greg Ball. Both will end up at the same final destination.

Mountain Biking

You can also go mountain biking, but you need to stay on the Railroad Grade Trail.

a small waterfall in a creek with plants around it
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Winter at Wallace Falls State Park

Thinking of hiking Wallace Falls during the winter? Go for it!

This area will see some snow, but unless it absolutely dumps, we shouldn’t see too much snow on the trail. When I did it, we wore microspikes, but most of the trail wasn’t too bad.

The river never freezes, but there was plenty of ice built up around the waterfalls, which looked beautiful.

The roads were in fine condition, but I did put my 4Runner in 4-High once I got off Highway 2 just to make sure I had good traction. But I do think my old Prius would have been fine. (However, the parking lot was pretty icy.)

Photos of Winter

History of Wallace Falls State Park

The park’s history is intertwined with the region’s broader history. The area around Wallace Falls State Park has a rich logging history, with the forests being extensively harvested in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Over time, as the importance of preserving natural spaces became apparent, efforts were made to protect and conserve such areas.

It was officially established in 1971. The park is named after the Wallace River, which flows through it, and the prominent Wallace Falls trail, with three cascading waterfalls.

The park encompasses a range of ecosystems, including old-growth coniferous forests, meadows, and river habitats.

A lone hiker walks through the forest surrounded by tall trees.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

FAQ: Wallace Falls State Park

What are the park hours?

The state park is open from 8am to dusk year-round. As the days get later, the park stays open later.

When does the parking lot fill up on the weekends?

Expect Wallace Falls State Park’s parking lot to fill up by noon on weekends. If you’re visiting in the summer months, our sunset isn’t until 8:45-9:15pm, so you can easily get here later to beat the traffic.

Can I stay overnight at Wallace Falls State Park?

There are two walk-in camping locations. They are right by the parking lot. Additionally, there are bathrooms and showers (fee) nearby. Each site has privacy, a picnic table, and fire rings.

For those looking to backpack, you can do so at Jay Lake and Wallace Lake.

Furthermore, there are five cabins available by reservation.

Are there restrooms at the trailhead?

Yes, there are restrooms at the trailhead.

Final Thoughts on the Wallace Falls Hike

In a crescendo of natural wonders, the Wallace Falls hike beckons both fervent outdoor enthusiasts and ardent nature admirers to indulge in an extraordinary escapade. Amidst the symphony of awe-inspiring waterfalls, verdant tapestries of foliage, and a vibrant array of wildlife, this trail unfolds an unparalleled adventure.

Whether you yearn for an exhilarating odyssey or a leisurely amble through the tranquil expanse, this hike graciously accommodates all levels of expertise.

Upon reaching the final waterfall and immersing yourself in the sweeping vistas from the viewpoint, you will realize why Wallace Falls stands as an elusive treasure within the embrace of Washington.

Until next time, adventurers, stay safe.


Other Washington articles to consider: Kayaking the San Juan Islands || Reflection Lake at Mt. Rainier || Olympic National Park 3-day guide || Photos of Olympic National Park || How to hike the Enchantments || Skyline Loop Trail || Yellow Aster Butte || Chain Lakes Loop || Maple Pass || Park Butte Lookout || The Best Washington Fire Lookouts || Hall of Mosses Trail

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Bio:

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside