“We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way, just walking in a winter wonderland.” We hear the same lyrics every holiday season. “Winter Wonderland” is played almost on repeat through Christmas. It’s a fun idea: taking a stroll through a snowy landscape; but how often do we actually do it? Here’s your chance! Franklin Falls trail offers a short winter hike near Seattle. And it’s truly a winter wonderland!
Franklin Falls trail is about an hour outside of Seattle near Snoqualmie Pass. Take I-90 east to exit 47 (Asahel Curtis/Denny Creek). At the top of the exit turn left. You’ll hit a T in the road; turn right. Take the first left (you’ll see signs to Denny Creek Campground). Stay on this road for about 2.5 miles. Take another left after the campground (again you’ll see signs pointing you in the right direction). The Franklin Falls trailhead is right there and it’s well-marked. Just be warned, the parking lot is tiny and a Northwest Forest Pass is required.
A spectacular snowy hike to Franklin Falls yesterday. https://t.co/Bsyx1B2bXK pic.twitter.com/bpZLMxDE53
— Seattle Bloggers (@SeattleBlgrs) January 27, 2018
The hike to Franklin Falls is easy. In fact, it feels more like a stroll than a hike. It’s a two-mile round-trip adventure with a 400′ elevation gain. In other words, it’s great for all ages and skill levels. You can make the hike to Franklin Falls year-round, but it’s especially fun in the winter.
My dad and I recently took the trip to Franklin Falls in early December. It hadn’t snowed for a few days, so the trail was well-traveled and easy to see (although it was covered in snow and ice). The Franklin Falls trail takes you along the South Fork Snoqualmie River, so there are several areas to dart off the trail and breathe in the stunning sights. The peaks and trees around you are covered with snow, and so are the boulders in the river. In certain spots, looking downstream is a jaw-dropping experience.
Nothing compares to the sight of Franklin Falls in the winter. The three-tier waterfall drops 135-feet altogether, but you can only see the final drop (70-feet) from the trail. The waterfall is large enough that water sprays everywhere, which causes icicles to form around it in freezing temperatures. In fact, we couldn’t even finish the trail to Franklin Falls (you can get much closer when it’s warm) because a thick layer of ice formed on path (PHOTO). If you’re willing to get your butt a little wet, you can shimmy and slide down the side hills to get a better view.
NOTE: Franklin Falls is located between the two I-90 viaducts near Snoqualmie Pass. The freeway literally goes right next to/over the waterfall. That was the biggest surprise to me. I’ve driven across the pass hundreds of times, and I never knew there was such an incredible scene below me.
It doesn’t always snow in Seattle, but winter fun is never far away. That’s one of the perks of living in the Northwest. In just an hour, you can find yourself in a winter wonderland. I’m sure there are other great cold weather hikes in the area, but I can’t imagine an easier stroll with a better payoff than Franklin Falls. Don’t miss this fun winter adventure!
Have you ever hiked to Franklin Falls in the winter? How was your experience? We’d love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more great places to visit around the Emerald City!
Keekwulee Falls | Denny Creek Trail (just down the road from Franklin Falls)
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This hike looks amazing in all it’s winter goodness!!
And by the way, I am loving all the content on this site. So much great insight!
Thank u! =)
Do you need any snow tires or 4 wheel drive to get to this location in the winter?
It all depends on the current conditions, Brandie. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but you should always check WSDOT for the latest. Once you’re off the freeway, I would recommend snow tires or 4WD, but it might not always be necessary. My best suggestion is to read some of the latest trip reports from the WTA (at the bottom of the linked page).
I was there on 1/17/2017. The road to Denny Creek Campground is closed so you need to walk up the road to the trail head. From where we parked it was 7.32 miles round trip using GPS to log the miles. The trail is very icy right now. Be prepared with the right boots, walking cleats.
The falls were remarkable, I have never seen a waterfall flowing inside of an ice sheath!
Thanks for sharing your trip report, Steve!