26 Dec Wallace Falls
Wallace Falls State Park lies a couple of miles off Route 2 and The Cascade Loop near the small town of Gold Bar, Washington. This is one of the premier hiking destinations on the western side of the Cascades because of its proximity to metro Seattle and the stunning fact that it features nine varying-sized waterfalls. There are three prime viewing areas that can be accessed by climbing a total of 1300 feet in elevation: Lower Falls, Middle Falls and Upper Falls.
All viewing sites are reached by a wooded trail that ascends through a beautiful northwoods forested thicket of towering hemlocks. If you are lucky enough to hike here on a sunny day you will find a feathery curtain of golden light filtering through the trees offering an enchanting visual communion of earth and sky.
This is a busy trail as I have noted above and we passed dozens of hikers coming and going up and down the trail. The total length up and back to the highest falls is 5.6 miles. 1300 feet of elevation may not sound like much but this hike is not to be taken lightly. The trail is wonderfully maintained and alternates between gradual inclines to steep switchbacks with some river crossings thrown in for good measure. Because of our late start and the threat of fading afternoon light we were only able to make it to the lower falls picnic area, a distance of about 2.3 miles. Even though the distance covered was unimpressive we felt the climb. The views when we arrived were a wonderful payoff for the effort.
For late December we dressed warmly as the temps were in the lower 30’s. But quickly the effort involved made it clear that some ventilation was required as we stripped off hats and gloves. We both agreed that the good workout was another bonus in addition to this being a memorable way to spend a Christmas Day.