As the daylight hours grow longer and mountain snow finally starts to melt away, signs of spring can be found around every corner. Trillium bloom on the forest floor, rhododendrons illuminate the forests with beautiful colors and the waterways around the Pacific Northwest are engorged with runoff water. It is along these rivers and creeks we find the great waterfalls of the area. Cascades of water tumble down many waterfalls just a short drive from Olympia. Here’s a list of waterfalls that make a perfect day trip. Paired with places to grab a delicious bite to eat, these six destinations will have you stoked for the spring months, whetting your wanderlust just in time for hiking season. The best part is that they are all family-friendly and easily accessible.
With a distance from Olympia of around two miles, no regional waterfall list is complete without including Tumwater Falls. While the main floods occur early in the spring months, turning the falls into a watery chaos, the falls make for a great destination year round. Falling 82 feet, the lower falls is the highlight for most who visit this small park and walk the half-mile loop encircling the falls area. However, the entire trail along the majestic Deschutes River will leave you loving every second spent at Tumwater Falls Park. After your stroll, you might want to head up to the Falls Terrace Restaurant where you can continue to gaze at the river. You can also bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a meal outdoors in the park.
Vincent Creek Falls
Forty miles from Olympia, along an often-overlooked Forest Service road, Vincent Creek Falls is one of the many jaw-dropping views you will get from the High Steel Bridge in Mason County. Spanning 685 feet across and 375 feet tall, the High Steel Bridge is a destination on it’s own. But, as you look upstream at the South Fork of the Skokomish River, Vincent Creek Falls tumbles down on the left cliff. Falling 250 feet, this small waterfall is transformed into a breathtaking torrent during the spring. With no trail to the waterfall, watch the cascade and river from the heights of the bridge. Make sure to stop by Olympic Bakery and Deli in Shelton for ice cream, delicious bread and mouthwatering sandwiches after your visit.
Little Mashel Falls
East of Olympia, 41 miles toward Mount Rainier, the Little Mashel Falls in the Pack Forest near Eatonville makes for a great family hiking destination, highlighted by a pretty and perfectly Pacific Northwest waterfall. Falling just 25 feet, the lazy falls transform into a breathtaking sight during the spring months. Work your way through the forest before reaching the rocky viewpoint of the falls then circle back, a five-mile trip. There are actually three decent-sized waterfalls in the Pack Forest, each worth seeing. Once you have hiked the trail, continue your adventure east in the town of Elbe, where a greasy masterpiece is awaiting you at Scaleburgers. With homemade milkshakes, ready to quench your thirst, this is a perfect day away.
Hamma Hamma Falls
Up Highway 101 along the Hood Canal, Hamma Hamma Falls is found 63 miles from Olympia. Past the Lena Lake Trailhead, all the way at the end of a gravel Forest Service Road, Hamma Hamma Falls is a car accessible waterfall at the edge of the Olympic Wilderness. Standing on top of the two-tiered falls and taking in the awe-inspiring views of the surrounding natural wonders, you will understand why this waterfall is a local favorite and a great destination after a day of exploring Hood Canal or hiking Lena Lake. Falling 75 feet, the waterfall starts under a bridge before plunging down the cliff below. Upriver, you can glimpse the beauty of the wild Olympics. After your adventure, get into the Hood Canal spirit and enjoy incredibly fresh local seafood with a stop at the Hama Hama Oyster Company just a few miles away.
Considered one of the classic waterfalls of the Olympic Peninsula, Murhut Falls is just a short 66-mile drive from Olympia. Up the Duckabush River, the falls are easily accessible and gorgeous during the spring, as they are fed by the melting snows above. Consisting of two tiers, the waterfall tumbles down a total of 153 feet, surrounded by lush undergrowth and natural beauty. To reach the falls, follow a well-maintained trail for less than a mile to an overlook. While a steep path does lead down to the falls, you do not have to go off trail to enjoy Murhut Falls. Cap your adventure off with a trek down the Ranger Hole Trail for a perfect hiking adventure along the Duckabush. Once you are done, refuel at the family-friendly Eagle Creek Saloon, which offers up some of the tastiest burgers around.
Rocky Brook Falls
For a quick hiking destination to a breathtaking waterfall, head 65 miles from Olympia, up Hood Canal to the Dosewallips River. Here, just a few miles from the highway, Rocky Brook Falls is a picturesque destination. After a half-mile walk along the creek, you will turn a corner and see the splendor of the falls. Falling 229 feet, it is a raging wonder after the heavy spring rains. There are numerous vantage points from the rocks all around the falls, and those who watch their step will be rewarded with a face full of mist and a perfect memory. After enjoying the sights, head back to Hoodsport and warm up with a cup of cocoa or coffee or cool off with ice cream at the Hoodsport Coffee Company, right on Highway 101.