As gray skies return to the Pacific Northwest and the sun starts setting around 5:00 p.m., it’s easy to fall into a habit of staying indoors. While that may sound good, especially when the mercury drops, those who retreat to their dwellings miss the amazingness awaiting them on the Olympic Peninsula.
Known for heavy rains and snowy peaks in the late fall and winter months, the waterways of the Olympics become raging torrents with each incoming storm. After a storm rolls through the region, and heavy rains stop falling, there are few things more Pacific Northwest than heading outdoors and seeing the power of the latest rainfall at our favorite waterfalls. While there are hundreds of waterfalls to be found, we have highlighted a few that are easy to get to for nearly every family. These destinations give you a perfect excuse to put on rain jackets and to see the awesome power of the waterfalls of the Olympic Peninsula. As always, remember to check the weather and the road conditions before heading out.
Rocky Brook Falls
Located a few miles from Highway 101 and Hood Canal, Rocky Brook Falls is a stunning place to go after a heavy rain storm. As the second largest tributary into the Dosewallips River, some of Rocky Brook’s waters come from 4,000 feet above the falls, helping to transform this 229-foot waterfall into a firehose-like flow after heavy rains. Reachable after a very short and flat walk, the waterfall is a popular swimming hole in the summer, but is insane after a storm. During the inclement weather, the falls blast water against the rocks with such force that they create a strong wind downstream. Normally falling in tiered horsetails, the waterfall becomes a wall of water, dousing all who get within 200 feet of the falls. Go here a day after heavy rain and make sure you are ready to get soaked, as there is no hiding from the power of Rocky Brook after the rains.
Descending over 1,200 feet in less than a mile, Murhut Creek has some pretty amazing waterfalls before reaching the Duckabush River. The highlight of the creek is the two-tiered waterfall known as Murhut Falls. Surrounded by towering trees and reached after a walk of less than one mile, this family-friendly trail will have you standing in awe while looking at the waterfall. The two drops, at 117 and 36 feet, can be explored by the surefooted, but generally, most who see the falls will witness its power from the overlook. The slopes to reach the falls themselves will be muddy, steep and rough to climb up and down, so exploration in the rainy months is not recommended. After a heavy rain, the falls are quite powerful, with their roar heard long before you see them. For an added bonus, check out Ranger Hole, after a short hike also in the Duckabush River Valley!
Hamma Hamma Falls
Often overlooked, thanks in part to a long, dirt road leading to the waterfall, Hamma Hamma Falls is still somewhat a hidden gem. Located at the end of the Hamma Hamma Road, past the trailheads for Lena Lake and Lake of the Angels, the road crosses a bridge and stops, reaching the Mildred Lakes Trailhead. Below the bridge is where you will see the falls, plunging down two drops before leveling out below. With drops of 18 and 66 feet respectively, this waterfall should be more popular, but it isn’t for a very good reason. Despite some daredevils kayaking down the falls, a good view of the waterfall is almost non-existent. To reach the base of the falls, you’d need rope and to get a good view of it from a nearby ridge, you need to follow a sketchy boot path that isn’t very rewarding. Instead, enjoy the views from the top of the falls after a storm and feel the spray on your face. Don’t forget to walk to the other side of the bridge and look upstream at the raging waters racing toward the falls.
Vincent Creek Falls
Tucked away between Shelton and Hoodsport, Vincent Creek Falls is a quick side trip for those traveling up Highway 101. Just a few minutes off the main road, you’ll soon be driving along a dirt road, following the signs to the High Steel Bridge. At High Steel Bridge, which crosses the South Fork of the Skokomish River some 300 feet below, a small waterfall is barely visible in the summer months, but after heavy rains, becomes an explosion of water shooting down the steep canyon. Falling a total of 250 feet, including one drop of 125 feet, this waterfall is a must see after a storm. Keep in mind that if you are planning on visiting this waterfall, you need to check the Skokomish River flood warnings, as it could be inaccessible when the Skokomish spills its banks, as it is wont to do in the fall and winter.