Hike of the week: Big Creek Falls

April 1, 2011 

Hike description: The hike to Big Creek Falls is a notable early and late season hike. If you hike it early, you will want to return in the fall when the autumn colors are out and the waterfalls are lively. The elevation gain is modest, making this an excellent beginner or family hike.

If your group isn’t up for a 10-mile trip, turn around when you reach Marten Creek, three miles from the trailhead. A new eye-catching bridge replaces the rickety platform that once crossed over the falls of Marten Creek. Two miles farther, Big Creek Falls serves as a great lunch stop. An out-of-place concrete bridge at Big Creek Falls is a remnant of the days when the trail served as a road connecting Interstate 90 and state Route 2. The road was allowed to turn back into a trail because of the area’s beauty.

On your return to the trailhead, look for a side trail to Lipsy Lake and Otter Falls off to your right and marked only by a large but easily missed cairn. Follow smaller cairns for about 75 yards to find Lipsy Lake and Otter Falls. During the summer, Lipsy Lake makes for a refreshing swimming hole. On an autumn day, the lake is a perfect setting to reflect on nature.

Directions: From North Bend, take Interstate 90 east to exit 34. Turn left (north) on 468th Avenue Southeast. At a half mile past the truck stop, turn right onto Southeast Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road (No. 56). Drive 12 miles and cross the Taylor River. At the “Y” beyond, go left on the Taylor River Road. Park at the locked gate.

Difficulty rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)

Miles round-trip: 10

Elevation: 650 feet

Best time of year: March-November

Map: Green Trails maps 174 Mount Si and 175 Skykomish

Pass: Northwest Forest Pass

Also: High clearance vehicles are recommended; however, passenger cars can make it to the trailhead with care. The road is rough and narrow in spots. Always carry the 10 Essentials and proper footwear and clothing, along with adequate food and water for wilderness hikes. Practice Leave No Trace wilderness travel.

Information: North Bend Ranger Station, 425-888-1421; www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/about/snrd.shtml; “Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region,” “55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass” and “100 Hikes in Washington’s Alpine Lakes, all Mountaineers Books.

Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee.

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