Snoqualmie Falls Park, WA: Falling in love with the hikes
Which is more dramatic? Ice pouring over the a former riverbed, a river dropping 270 feet over the rocks into the valley below, or a volcano spewing lava bombs?
All of those things have occurred during the history of Snoqualmie Falls, an impressive cascade of water 30 miles east of Seattle in Washington’s Cascade foothills. Our group spent some time enjoying the roar of the falls, the dramatic water falling over the rocks, and the mist spraying in our faces. There was little evidence that 20 million years ago, this was the site of an active volcano, and, just 15,000 years ago, most of the area was covered in ice.
Our challenge was the Triple Crown, three hikes all within a short driving distance from The Falls. The first hike was Little Si, which is next to Mount Si. This mountain was originally called Uncle Si, named by Josiah Merrit, a pioneer who built a cabin in the 1800’s next to the mountain. Of course, before the pioneers came to the area, the Native American Snoqualmie tribe for whom the falls is central to their culture and spirituality, had long lived here, perhaps as early as 9000 BC.
Little Si offers great views of snowcapped mountains in the Snoqualmie Pass area and Rattlesnake Ledge, our next destination. http://www.mountsi.com/little-si/. At the top of Little Si, we enjoyed a quick snack and the group swiftly hiked down the 2.5 miles back to the car.
A 20-minute drive later, we arrived at the next stop, Rattlesnake Ledge trail. http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rattle-snake-ledge This is a two-mile hike with wonderful views of Mt. Si and Little Si from the top. On a clear day you can even see the Seattle Skyline, Elliot Bay, and some of the big peaks of the Olympic Mountains.
Our group of hikers was starting to get tired, and there was a roar, not of The Falls, but of hikers begging for a long restaurant stop. We’d already logged nine miles and a 2,400 foot elevation gain in our first two hikes. However, there was still the last and, fortunately, the easiest leg to our Triple Crown. This was the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail, one of the few in the area that is level (a rare find in the foothills of the Cascades) http://www.weekendhike.com/2009/12/preston-snoqualmie-trail.html. The highlight of this leisurely hike (1.8 miles one way) is the view of Snoqualmie Falls. Once at the viewpoint we could clearly hear the roar of The Falls, about a half mile away.
With our “historic” hiking accomplished, I kept my promise to buy appetizers and beverages for the group to celebrate our victory at Salish Lodge’s The Attic http://salishlodge.com/. It was a perfect end to the day — relaxing in the café’s friendly atmosphere and taking in the beautiful views of the falls. We enjoyed microbrews from Snoqualmie Brewery (brewed one mile away) and the Lodge’s signature Smoked Salmon Chowder.
Want to know more about this beautiful area? Check out Elizabeth Fagin’s article on Salish Lodge where she checked out everything from the herb garden to the beehives and fresh honey, to fine dining and the spa treatments. – by Michael Fagin, photos by Elizabeth Fagin and Allen Bauer