Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Twin Falls Natural Area and more

March 5, 2012

It was a surprise to have this popular trailhead all to ourselves on this snowy morning. The Twin Falls trail to the bridge/overlook of Twin Falls is a popuar trail for several reasons - it's close to Seattle, Issaquah and North Bend and it's scenic. It's also an easy enough hike that it's suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities. In otherwords, it's a good four-season trail suitable for anyone. Since it is suitable for anyone, that often translates to "everyone" so if you are seeking solitude this is not the trail for you on a sunny weekend. Whenever you go don't forget your Discover Pass - it is required.

Unless ... it's a wintry day mid-week with an early start. We've hiked to Twin Falls in all kinds of weather but this was our first time in snow. It felt a little odd to be breaking trail on this family-friendly hike though the snow will soon melt. It's only about 2-1/2 miles round trip to the bridge-overlook above Twin Falls (that's where many people stop). There is also a lower overlook of Twin Falls before you get to the bridge but as of this writing it is closed due to damage from recent snow and ice storms. Please heed the warning.

The trail starts out following the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River with viewpoints of the river along the way. After the trail follows the river a while it climbs to a small ridge where there are benches for a rest-break or peek-a-boo views of the river (we were able to get a peek at one of the waterfalls from the bench). The trail drops down again, is level for a bit then climbs again on a circuitous route to avoid a slope prone to mud-slides. Along the way note a large, hollowed out stump (left), a perfect setting for a photo of a hiker avoiding inclement weather.

A bit more down on an elaborate set of stairs leads to the robust bridge, the thundering falls and dizzying views to the river and waterfalls below. As of this writing there was about three inches of snow on the bridge but it wasn't slippery. Hikers can continue further to another overlook of the waterfalls and/or to the Iron Horse trail (getting to the Iron Horse trail involves some uphill.

What this writer cannot adequately describe was the beauty of the fresh snow highlighting every twig, fern and tree along the trail. On a cloudy day such as this one it was like hiking through a pen and ink drawing or an etching, every detail sharp and crisp.

The temperatures were such that the snow was not designed to last and began to melt as we hiked out. We also began to meet a few other hikers coming in to enjoy the gifts of this four-season trail.

It is about 2-1/2 miles round-trip to the bridge overlooking Twin Falls.

To get there from Seattle: drive east on I-90 and get off at Exit 34, follow signs to the park/trailhead.

Rattlesnake Lake and more:

Since it was still cold we skipped the hike to Rattlesnake Ledge on our way back but did stop at the lake for photography. It was cold and wintry; we could see Rattlesnake Ledge was snowy and didn't look at all user-friendly. The water was high in the lake but it made for good photography.

To get to Rattlesnake Lake and Rattlesnake Ledge: Take Exit 32 from I-90, continue to trailhead/parking. A Discover Pass is required.

We also stopped at Mill Pond Road (between Snoqualmie Falls and North Bend) for photos of Mount Si reflected in an old mill pond on our way home. Conditions were great for photography; the sun had come out, the skies were blue and what clouds there were were fat, puffy and white.

Our last stop was Snoqualmie Falls; we spent more time photographing flowers in the gardens at Snoqualmie Falls than the waterfall itself; the mist from Snoqualmie Falls was extreme and the upper overlooks were closed due to icy conditions.

Karen Sykes

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