The Wallace Falls State Park waterfalls hike is one of the most visually stunning trails in Washington State. This complete trail walkthrough will explain everything you need to know about the picturesque hike to four waterfalls in Wallace Falls State Park, WA.
Is the Wallace Falls hike worth it?
Yes, the Woody Trail hike to Lower, Middle and Upper Wallace Falls is definitely worth it! This incredibly photogenic climb through old growth forest to 3 waterfall viewpoints is easily one of the best bang for your buck trails outside of a national park in the state of Washington.
Here’s what we will show you:
- Where to find Wallace Falls State Park
- Entrance fee and parking information
- The Wallace Falls State Park hike
- Best time of year and day to visit
- Where to eat and stay nearby
- Stunning photos of Wallace Falls
Let’s hike the beautiful Wallace Falls State Park Trail in Washington!
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Our Wallace Falls State Park Experience
Hiking in lesser known places around Washington was one of our favorite things to do when living near Seattle.
Olympic National Park and Mt Rainier National Park are incredibly popular, but what about the trails around North Bend, Granite Falls and Gold Bar?
Well, we spent almost every weekend for 6 months hiking through old growth forest to lakes, mountain peaks and waterfalls in Washington State, including the three picturesque waterfalls in Wallace Falls State Park.
We hiked Woody Trail to Lower, Middle and Upper Falls in Wallace Falls State Park on a quiet Monday morning in October, before hiking nearby Lake Serene Trail later in the afternoon.
The quintessential Pacific Northwest morning mist enveloping Wallace Falls’ old growth forest felt like something out of a horror movie.
Stay tuned until the end for our favorite photos from Wallace Falls!
Wallace Falls State Park Factfile
- State Park: Wallace Falls
- Town: Gold Bar
- State: Washington
- Address: 14503 Wallace Lake Road, Gold Bar, WA 98251
- Telephone: +1 (360) 793 0420
- Campsites: 2 (plus backcountry)
- Cabins: 5
- Area: 1,380 Acres
- Things To Do: Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, photography
- Major Waterfall: Middle Wallace Falls
- Open: Year round 8:00am to dusk
After flowing through the state park, Stony Brook empties into the Canaseraga Creek. This creek is a major tributary to the Genesee River where it meets in Mount Morris.
The area has a history of private resorts which have been enjoyed by many generations. But today, it delivers a beautifully winding brook showcasing beautiful waterfalls and refreshingly cool water.
Where Is Wallace Falls State Park?
Wallace Falls State Park is 1.8 miles from the small town of Gold Bar along U.S. Rte 2 in northwest Washington State.
Click here to open the Google Maps location of Wallace Falls.
Directions To Wallace Falls State Park
Wallace Falls is easy to reach from most built up areas in western Washington. Drive up or down I-405 to join U.S. Rte 2 as though you are heading for Stevens Pass.
Once you reach Gold Bar, take 1st Street, May Creek Road and Ley Road until you see the brown Wallace Falls State Park welcome sign.
If you use Google Maps, set your destination for “Wallace Falls Parking Lot”.
Here are distances and average times from major nearby cities to the parking lot:
- Seattle – 47 miles / 1 hour 05 minutes
- Bellevue – 40 miles / 55 minutes
- Renton – 49 miles / 1 hour 05 minutes
- Everett – 30 miles / 40 minutes
- Tacoma – 80 miles / 1 hour 30 minutes
Wallace Falls Parking Lot
Parking at Wallace Falls State Park trailhead is limited and there are no alternate options nearby. The lot fills early on weekends throughout the year and on weekdays in summer.
The parking lot appears almost empty in our photo above because we hiked Wallace Falls Trail on a wet and cloudy weekday in October.
We didn’t count total spaces but it was somewhere around 100 spots, including disabled spaces closest to the trailhead.
You will find restrooms, an automated pay station, tent sites and seasonal coffee kiosk at the parking lot.
Wallace Falls State Park Entrance Fees
Visitors to Wallace Falls State Park must display either a day use or annual Discover Pass for Washington.
If you do not already have an in date annual Discover Pass, you can use the automated pay station near the trailhead in Wallace Falls parking lot to purchase either a day pass or annual pass.
Here are the two options you have for paying Wallace Falls fees:
- A one day pass for Wallace Falls costs $10
- The annual Discover Pass for Washington costs $30
Note: You can not use your America the Beautiful Pass for Wallace Falls because it is a Washington state park, not a national recreational area.
Waterfalls In Wallace Falls State Park, WA
Wallace Falls State Park is home to three waterfalls which cascade and plunge down the Wallace River.
Visitors hike to scenic viewpoints overlooking Lower Falls, Middle Falls and Upper Falls located along the Woody Trail, which runs parallel to the Wallace River.
- Lower Wallace Falls – The first and smallest waterfall in the park drops 212 feet across five tiers.
- Middle Wallace Falls – The park’s major waterfall plunges 367 feet across three tiers.
- Upper Wallace Falls – The third and final waterfall drops 270 feet in five tiers but can’t be seen fully.
The three waterfalls are by far the main attractions in Wallace Falls State Park but you might want to consider visiting Wallace Lake, Jay Lake and Shaw Lake if you have more time or you are looking for a way to escape the crowds.
Wallace Falls State Park Trails
Visitors to Wallace Falls State Park will find 12 miles of hiking trails leading to stunning waterfalls and lakes.
The one hike you can’t miss at Wallace Falls is Woody Trail, which hugs the Wallace River and leads to viewpoints overlooking the three waterfalls.
How long is the hike at Wallace Falls?
Well, it depends how far you go and how many waterfalls you want to take in.
Here are the trail distances and elevation gain to each waterfall:
- 1. Lower Falls Only: Easy – 3.6 miles (540 ft elevation gain)
- 2. Lower + Middle Falls: Moderate – 4.1 miles (770 ft elevation gain)
- 3. Lower, Middle + Upper Falls: Hard – 5.5 miles (1,240 ft elevation gain)
Note: You can also hike to Wallace Lake which is 8.2 miles in length and requires 1,514 ft elevation gain. This hike begins on Woody Trail but turns off to a separate trail before Lower Falls.
Wallace Falls State Park Woody Trail Hike
Let’s walk through the entire hike from Wallace Falls trailhead parking to Upper Wallace Falls.
1. Park, Pay + Display
Arrive early to beat the crowds or wait until later in the day to avoid the morning rush. Park up, pay for your day use Discover Pass or take out your annual Discover Pass and place it on your dashboard.
Use the bathrooms before setting off because there are no more toilets along the hike. If the coffee kiosk is open it might be worth picking up a drink or snack if you didn’t bring anything with you.
2. Begin Hiking
The first part of the Wallace Falls hike follows a wide gravel path flanked by trees and bushes. You will see and hear electricity pylons overhead, which isn’t the greatest start but it gets better!
Enter old growth forest and pass by a famous quote by William Wordsworth written on a brown sign stating: “Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher.”
3. Small Falls
You will reach a fork in the path; left is for Railroad Grade biking trail and right is for the three waterfalls along Woody Trail. Take the right and follow the easy flat forest path through mossy sitka spruce trees.
After around 0.4 miles you will reach Small Falls interpretive trail and amphitheater. Check out the waterfall and read about “A River’s History” before continuing to the main waterfalls.
4. Lower Wallace Falls
The next mile and a half is easy going with a gradual incline through beautiful forest surroundings. You will pass by trail markers, checkpoints, puncheon bridges and information boards.
Arrive at Lower Wallace Falls overlook and enjoy views of the waterfall from an open viewing area. Lower Falls is directly ahead but if you look through the trees you can see Middle Wallace Falls in the distance.
5. Middle Wallace Falls
A series of 8 short switchbacks over a quarter mile will take you from Lower to Middle Wallace Falls viewpoint. This is the main Wallace Falls State Park attraction and it is well worth the effort.
The fenced viewing area for Middle Wallace Falls is quite small, so you might have to wait your turn for photos. This is the best part of the Wallace Falls hike so make the most of the view!
6. Upper Wallace Falls
This is where the hike becomes more challenging with a steeper gradient. You will climb steep steps and navigate around 12 or so switchbacks to reach Upper Wallace Falls viewpoint.
Stop at “Valley Overlook” half way between the waterfalls for another photo spot, before continuing to the final viewpoint on Woody Trail. Views into Upper Wallace Falls are partially obscured but still great.
7. Head Back
Once you are done at Upper Wallace Falls, turn around and head back to the trailhead the exact same way. You might want to stop at Middle or Lower Falls again if thick mist has cleared since you left.
Now that you have seen the waterfalls, pay closer attention to the wooden bridges, puncheon bridges and moss clad trees for more photography opportunities.
Want more waterfall inspiration? Don’t miss our guide to the best waterfall quotes.
Photography At Wallace Falls State Park
Wallace Falls State Park hike is one of the most photogenic trails in Washington.
Old growth forest covered in moss, mist creeping slowly through tall tree trunks and powerful waterfalls makes photography easy in Wallace Falls.
Smartphones are more than capable of capturing images for social media platforms but if you want to take home some extra special photos you will need to remember a few things:
- Use a tripod for stability when shooting low light photography in the forest and for creating silky water effects with the waterfalls.
- Take long exposures of the waterfalls from 0.3 seconds to 3 seconds so you have options.
- Set your aperture for preferred depth of field and try to keep your ISO as low as possible.
- Visit early in the day before intense daylight but if it is bright use a ND filter to stop down the light.
- Middle Wallace Falls is by far the most photogenic waterfall so focus your efforts there.
- If you’re a beginner, shoot in RAW & JPEG mode. You can use your jpeg now but once you have more experience you will be grateful for the RAW file you can go back to and edit.
Interested in photography? Don’t miss our Photography Guides from around the world.
Are Dogs Allowed At Wallace Falls State Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed at Wallace Falls State Park in Washington. However, dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and failure to adhere to this important rule will result in a fine.
Several incidents in the past involving dogs falling over the waterfalls led to this outcome for safety reasons.
Can I Swim At Wallace Falls State Park?
Swimming is not allowed in the Wallace River near any of the three major waterfalls cascading through Wallace Falls State Park. However, swimming is encouraged at Big Eddy in the Skykomish River around 5 miles east of Wallace Falls.
Best Time To Visit Wallace Falls State Park
Let’s take a quick look at the best times to hike in Wallace Falls.
Best Time Of Year
September and October are the best times to visit Wallace Falls State Park because the temperature is comfortable, the crowds are fewer and the fall colors are most beautiful.
May is another excellent month to visit Wallace Falls because the waterfalls will be most powerful.
The summer months of July and August are busiest, which we personally would avoid at all costs but the warmer weather and longer days will appeal to many.
Winter is a unique time to visit Wallace Falls, especially with snow on the trails.
Best Time Of Day
Early morning is by far the best time of day to hike Wallace Falls State Park waterfalls trail because you will beat the crowds.
If you want photos of the classic Pacific Northwest forest mist in old growth forest, you stand a better chance early in the morning before the sun burns it away.
When To Avoid
The hours around 10:00am through 3:00pm are naturally going to be busiest at Wallace Falls State Park, so we would try to avoid the midday rush if possible.
Weekends, summer weekdays and especially holidays are the days we would personally avoid at all costs.
Where To Eat Nearby
The closest place to Wallace Falls State Park with food options is the small town of Gold Bar.
Top rated eateries in the area include:
Where To Stay Nearby
There are very few lodging options near Wallace Falls.
Monroe is the closest built up town, which is 13 miles away and should take around 20 minutes to drive.
Top rated places to stay near Wallace Falls State Park (with previous guest ratings on Booking.com):
Alternatively, you could book a night at The Wallace Falls Lodge which is opposite Wallace Falls State Park parking lot.
Wallace Falls State Park Camping
There are 2 first come first served tent camping sites near Wallace Falls State Park trailhead and parking lot. Tent sites have benches, fire pits and access to shower facilities at an additional fee.
You can also backcountry camp near Wallace Lake and Jay Lake. But you need to call the park office to acquire a permit prior to arrival at 360-793-0420.
There are also 5 cabins on site at Wallace Falls State Park within walking distance of the Woody Trail.
Wallace Falls State Park Photos
We found Wallace Falls State Park to be exceptionally photogenic and ended up with hundreds of photos of old growth forest, waterfalls, bridges and ourselves.
Here are some of our favorite photos highlighting the beauty of Wallace Falls:
Wallace Falls State Park FAQ’s
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Wallace Falls State Park in Washington State.
Yes, the Woody Trail leading to Lower, Middle and Upper Wallace Falls is stunning and well worth the hike. We would go as far as saying the trail is one of the most photogenic hikes outside of national parks in Washington State.
Hikers should plan for between 3 and 4 hours to see Lower, Middle and Upper Wallace Falls viewpoints. The easy hike to Lower Falls only can be done in around 1 hour 30 minutes roundtrip if you are looking for a shorter route.
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We hope this guide to the Wallace Falls State Park hike helps with planning your visit to Washington!
Please let us know if you have any questions planning your visit to Wallace Falls in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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