Twin Falls Hike: A Short Hike With Gorgeous Views

Twin Falls

Are you feeling a little stir-crazy? Do you need a good day hike to shake off some winter blues?  Well, that’s how I felt after what seemed to be a never-ending winter and a cold and rainy start to our summer in Seattle. I was ready to get outside and soak in the beautiful sunny day we finally had.  So I headed for one of my favorite waterfall hikes close to home, the Twin Falls hike near North Bend, Washington. 

The Twin Falls trail is a beautiful path that winds its way along the river and through the trees (sorry no Grandma’s house) before leading you to spectacular waterfall views! I’ll tell you all you need to know to get there and as well as some tips, so you don’t extend your hike further than you want to.

Useful Things To Know Before Getting Started

  • You need a Discover Pass to park at the trailhead for the Twin Falls hike.
  • You can purchase a day-use pass at the trailhead or buy ahead of time.
  • Bring bug spray, depending on what time of year you visit the mosquitoes can be quite bad.
  • Twin Falls is a popular trail, so if you plan to go on a weekend, be prepared for crowds and limited parking. I recommend you come on a weekday if possible, and try to get an early morning start.  Even on a weekday during the summer, the parking lot is often full by noon.
  • There are pit toilets with hand sanitizer provided.
  • I found it easy to follow social distance guidelines along this hike. However, on crowded days, you may want to wear a mask when passing other hikers if you are unable to follow social distancing guidelines.
a canopy of trees
Enjoy the gorgeous hike on your way to the waterfalls.

Hiking the Twin Falls Trail

The Twin Falls trail is about 3 miles round trip from the trailhead to the Upper Falls Viewpoint. 

If you have ever hiked the Franklin Falls trail near Snoqualmie Pass, I will share my thoughts on a comparison of the two. I have hiked the Twin Falls trail and Franklin Falls trail multiple times. I love the ability to get up close to the waterfall at Franklin Falls, but I think Twin Falls is the prettier hike.  You get more access and views of the river along the way, plus the forest opens up a lot more than with the Franklin Falls trail.  

That said, Franklin Falls is the easiest of the two trails. So depending on your physical shape or the age of those hiking with you, be aware that hiking to Twin Falls is the more challenging hike. 

It is still a fairly easy to moderate hike, but you will have some steep inclines along the way, and over 100 stairs to descend and ascend to see both waterfall viewing areas.  Take it slow, there are lots of places for breaks along the way and enjoy the journey!

a little bridge along a forest trail

Starting at the Main Trailhead

Starting from the main trailhead, you will begin your hike with almost immediate views of the river below.  If you’re itching to dip your toes in the water, don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that later along the hike. Follow the trail as it winds its way down a hill and into the forest.  You’ll soon cross a little bridge (above photo).  After you cross the bridge, you’ll reach an area with easy access to the river.  

There are several stops along the way with good river access. Huge boulders are separate the river into small pools. These are good for dipping one’s feet in to cool off on a hot summer day or letting the dogs have a little fun splashing around.

river stop along twin falls hike
The river is a beautiful (and cool) place to rest.

Benches With a View

As you continue along the trail, you’ll hike through narrow parts where the foilage crowds the path on either side.  Then you’ll come into large open areas with giant trees looming all around.  Make your way up a series of switchbacks before arriving at a resting point.  You’ll climb a steep switchback to arrive at a set of benches that offer your first glimpse of the upper falls. 

The benches are a beautiful place to stop and rest.  There is usually a breeze blowing here, so in the summer, it is a refreshing place to sit and cool off.  However, in the colder months, you may wish to bundle up or only stop for a short break if it’s really windy.

switchback just before benches with view
One of the last switchbacks before reaching the benches and the seeing first view of Twin Falls.

The Big Tree by the River

When you’ve finished resting at the benches, follow the trail as it descends back down into the forest.  Near the bottom of the hill, you’ll come across a huge tree looming tall, not too far from the river’s edge.  Stop to take photos with the big tree and if you want you can also take another break by the river. I just love all the beautiful trees along this trail!

big tree on twin falls trail
If you want to hug a tree, the big tree is a good place to start.

Lower Falls Viewpoint

After you leave the big tree, continue hiking upward to where it levels off, and before long, you’ll see some stairs that fork off to the right.  These stairs will take you down to the Lower Falls viewpoint. 

This viewpoint, in my opinion, is the best one along the trail.  So make sure to either stop on your way to the Upper Falls Bridge or hike down to it on your way back.  Whichever you choose, you don’t want to miss it! I know hiking down and back up over 100 stairs may not seem worth the effort, but I assure you, it is!

lower twin falls view
A view of the lower falls.
pool at bottom of lower falls

Upper Falls Viewpoint & Turnaround Area

As you pass the stairs to the Lower Falls viewpoint, you’ll soon see a large bridge zigzagging through the trees.  There’s a clearing on the bridge providing views of the valley on one side, and the upper falls on the other.  If you want to continue past this point, you can hike a little further up to a small viewing area with a slightly closer view of the upper falls.  

upper falls bridge

The wooden bridge viewing area for the upper falls.

From here, you will turn around and head back in the direction you came.  If you were to continue past this viewpoint and up the trail, it would take you to the John Wayne Trail/Iron Horse Trail that leads to the alternate trailhead I mention in the “Getting Here” section.

Warning: Don’t make the mistake of passing the upper falls viewing area and thinking the trail will loop you back to the main trailhead.  I had a few families who started to pass me going further up the trail, and I asked them if they had parked at the Homestead Valley Road trail or not.  They had not, but mistakenly thought the trail continued on and somehow lead them back to the main trailhead off Exit 34.  There is no need to hike further (unless you want to) once you’ve seen the Upper Falls.

Enjoy your hike back to your car, and if you didn’t take time to stop near the river, the walk back is a great time to do it.  I enjoyed having a snack break there, listening to the rushing water, and smiling as I saw a family further up the river enjoying their time together.

upper falls at twin falls
A view of the upper falls.

Getting to the Twin Falls Trailhead

The Main Twin Falls Trailhead:  SE 159th St, North Bend, WA 98045

  1. Take I-90 east to exit 34
  2. Turn right off the exit ramp onto 468th Avenue SE
  3. Drive about half a mile and make a left onto SE 159th Street.
  4. Follow the road until it dead-ends in the Twin Falls parking lot. (You will need a Discover Pass to park here.)

Alternate Hiking/Parking Option:

If the main Twin Falls trailhead parking is full, you can also hike to the falls coming from the opposite direction. The hike will be different than what I describe below, but if you drive out there and discover the main trailhead is full, this gives you an alternate option.

  1. Take I-90 east to exit 38
  2. Turn right off the exit onto SE Homestead Valley Road. Drive about 0.10 miles and make your first right, you’ll see a sign for Olallie State Park that lists various trails
  3. Follow this dirt road for a little over a quarter-mile, stay left as you pass two forks in the road along this route.
  4. You will park near the trailhead junction for Iron Horse Trail.
  5. Follow the Iron Horse Trail (may also see signs for John Wayne Pioneer Trail) for about a third of a mile before it connects with the Upper Twin Falls trail. 
  6. Once you reach the Upper Twin Falls and the big bridge, you’ll just need to hike a little further down where you’ll find stairs on your left, leading you to the Lower Falls viewing area.

Read the following articles for more waterfall fun:

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on reddit

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Explore More

Recent Posts