Snoqualmie, I Hardly Know Thee

South Fork Snoqualmie River and Franklin Falls
South Fork Snoqualmie River and unnamed waterfall
South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Pass
I don’t like crowds when I’m outdoors so making the decision to visit someplace notorious for crowds is crazy for me. The I-90 corridor up to Snoqualmie Pass is the place where ALLLLL of Seattle decides to go to when they want to go for a hike. That explains why I’ve only done one hike in the 13 years that I’ve lived in Washington. So what would lure me back? Franklin Falls.

I’ve been searching for locations to match an idea I have and Franklin Falls fit the bill. Franklin Falls is accessed by the ever popular Denny Creek trailhead and it is EXTREMELY popular. It’s only a mile from the trailhead to the falls but it turns out that you can also get there much quicker via a side trail off of a switchback of Forest Service Rd 58. Crazy simple!

South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Pass
South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Pass
South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie PassAnyways, Saturday was a cloudy day with showers coming so it was a perfect day to make a first visit. Lots of Trillium were in bloom in the area and there were still pockets of snow despite a modest elevation of 2700 feet. Spring melt is underway and the falls were quite full. The spray from the falls filled the amphitheater and quite a ways downstream as well. Much like my experiences at Tamanawas Falls on Mount Hood, I had to constantly dry my lens of water drops before every photo. I was only taking some test photos so we only spent about a half hour at the falls. Almost on cue, the horde of visitors began!

Within 10 minutes, 15 people appeared so it was time to go. We continued up Road 58 towards the pass to visit another unnamed waterfall near Alpental. It’s similar to one located at the Deception Falls picnic area. Here, though, the South Fork Snoqualmie River drops and crashes into a rock wall and then spins 180 degrees before continuing downstream. It’s tough to shoot becase some of the I-90 structural elements can sneak into your frame.

South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Pass
South Fork Snoqualmie River Detail near Snoqualmie Pass
South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie PassNext up was a 0.25 mile stretch of the river downstream of this waterfall. It’s a little ways down and away from the road but we had some glimpses that piqued our interest. There was a little more snow in the trees here so we had to be careful about collapsing undercut snowbanks. As it turned out, this stretch of river has several really interesting features. Despite being so close to the westbound lanes of I-90 (literally below them), you couldn’t hear the traffic. The looming rain finally made its appearance and that signaled that it was time to move on again.

The last location in this part of the valley I wanted to check out was the Ashael Curtis Nature Trail. It’s your typical short loop trail through a forest with some old growth-esque sized trees (but still held much evidence of prior logging including springboard notches on a stump). I don’t know the history of this particular nature trail but it does appear as though it has been hammered by storms. There’s lots of windfall debris all over the place which made things a little too difficult to come up with good compositions. The large trees are still worth visiting, though!

South Fork Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Pass
Weeks Falls along the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Olallie State ParkTo finish off the day, we headed west back towards North Bend and took Exit 38 to go check out Weeks Falls in Olallie State Park. The falls are wedged between a dam upstream and a hydroelectric spillway on the downstream end. I imagine that the falls were probably more aesthetic before humans made “improvements.” The advection fog which we observed forming over the South Fork Snoqualmie River in the Denny Creek area was now making its appearance at the top of Weeks Falls.

Compositions are tough here so I focused on more intimate scenes. After a little while, full fledged rain began and it was time to call it a day. It was only a recon outing but I’m definitely excited about what I found. I’ll have more to share from this area in the future.
South Fork Snoqualmie River Detail near Weeks Falls in Olallie State Park
Weeks Falls along the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Olallie State Park

One Response to Snoqualmie, I Hardly Know Thee
  1. Juanita

    I had no idea there is such a neat place close to the freeway. Great pictures. Looks like a good place to go on a hot day.