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Taylor River - Otter Falls

Snoqualmie Region

Location

Snoqualmie Region -- North Bend Area
View map below

Length

11.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 650 ft.
Highest Point: 1750 ft.

Rating

4.00 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2018
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 
 

Lose yourself in second-growth forest as you traverse an old logging road that heads into quiet wilderness just an hour from the urban sprawl of Puget Sound. Enjoy the sounds of water rushing and birds singing. Explore mossy boulders and cross multiple burbling creeks, even do a small amount of cross-country travel on the way to the piece de resistance – a 1,200 foot waterfall that streams into tiny Lipsy Lake before draining to the Taylor River.

The trail takes off from the Snoqualmie Lake Trailhead, 12 miles from the beginning of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road. Start from the small parking area and admire the wide Taylor River as you cross a paved bridge. Pass a couple of dispersed camping sites and come to a junction with the Quartz Creek trail branching off to the left at about 0.5 miles. Take the right fork, staying on a relatively flat, rocky trail that heads through quiet forest. Gaze at moss-laden birches, western redcedars, and western hemlocks towering over you. The trail can be brushy when the understory is in bloom, but in winter and early spring it is quite wide – hikers can walk three abreast in some sections.

Along the trail, Taylor River rushes past you, and craggy Garfield Peak plays hide-and-seek through the trees. Near a creek crossing, the forest opens up, offering hikers a glimpse of a spire of Treen Peak. This is one of the few sections of the trail that also offers good sunlight - on a clear day, bask in the warmth and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains before continuing on your way.

After three miles, come to a large bridge spanning roaring Marten Creek. A bootpath veers off to the left just before the bridge – a mile’s hike up this primitive, overgrown trail takes you to Marten Lake, but your destination of Otter Falls is much more compelling, and easier to access. Take photos at the bridge and then press on, crossing roughly ten drainages before the turn-off for Otter Falls.

With spring’s high waters, some of these crossings can be tricky. Hiking poles are very helpful in high water. Keep in mind that rocks can be loose or slippery with moss – don’t attempt any crossing that you feel uncomfortable tackling.

You’re almost to your destination when you reach a large creek featuring an enormous culvert. Five feet in diameter, the culvert is set into the creek, just downstream from where you will cross the drainage. After crossing this drainage, it’s only about 0.3 miles to the turn off for Otter Falls.
The turn is typically marked by a large cairn. Turn left into the forest, and begin climbing upslope. This is the steepest this trail gets, but it’s not a long climb, and manageable for most.

After about 500 yards you’ll reach the crown of the slope. Otter Falls is visible through the trees, but the best view doesn’t come until you take a short path down to a small beach, where the imposing falls stream down a huge granite face. Though the water falls 1,200 feet, hikers who make it here can only see about 500 feet of falling water. But that’s more than enough – Otter Falls provides the perfect place to relax and enjoy lunch before heading back out to the trail and your car.

 

Taylor River - Otter Falls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.5609, -121.5323 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Snoqualmie Region -- North Bend Area

Taylor River (#1002)

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Snoqualmie Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Snoqualmie Pass (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Best Hikes with Kids Western Washington & the Cascades (Burton - Mountaineers Books)

A Waterfall Lovers Guide to the Pacific Northwest

Best Hikes with Dogs in Western Washington (Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Buy the Green Trails Mount Si No. 174 map

Buy the Green Trails Skykomish No. 175 map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to exit 34. Turn left onto 468th Street and follow it about 0.3 miles to the junction with the signed Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road. From here it is 12.1 miles to the trailhead for Taylor River.

Turn right and head up the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road. Where the road forks, stay right on the Lake Dorothy road, and continue down this road, passing many trailheads, as well as the Middle Fork campground and large trailhead for the Middle Fork Road, before arriving at Garfield Ledges Trailhead.

The trailhead for Otter Falls/Taylor River is another 0.3 miles down the road past this trailhead, at the Snoqualmie Lake trailhead, but this parking area is a much better place to leave your car. 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Northwest Forest Pass
 

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Taylor River - Otter Falls

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