Franklin Falls Trail Day Hike

Who says bucket list hikes need to be daunting? A truly family-friendly hike, Franklin Falls is a Pacific Northwest classic; a mellow trail leading to a picturesque swimming hole and waterfall. 

Less than an hour from Seattle along the I-90 corridor, Franklin Falls boasts excellent accessibility for city dwellers, and it’s adjacent to other popular hikes near Snoqualmie Pass like Denny Creek, Kendall Katwalk, and segments of the Pacific Crest Trail. For many folks who live in the Seattle area, Franklin Falls is a go-to family hike given its approachability for little ones. The two-mile out and back is the perfect place to dip your toes into the magic of PNW hiking, introduce kids to the outdoors, or enjoy a calm summer picnic under the cooling mist of the 70-foot waterfall. 

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The one-mile trail winds through old-growth forest, overlooking deep pools along the Snoqualmie River, as you make your way to the falls. Since it’s close to Snoqualmie Pass and at around 2,500’, the Franklin Falls trail is snow-covered for most of the winter, so this one is best done in late spring through early fall depending on the weather. 

Franklin Falls Overview 

  • Distance: 2 miles (roundtrip), 400’ elevation gain
  • Hike Time: 1-3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Best Time to Hike: late spring through early fall
  • Trail Map

What to Know About Hiking Franklin Falls 

Franklin Falls is an accessible adventure for families and hikers looking for a mellow walk with rewarding views. You could easily spend all day swimming and picnicking at the falls, but it’s also a popular choice for half-day adventures or those with shorter time constraints. Franklin Falls is a great reminder that you don’t always have to go deep into the wilderness to surround yourself with natural beauty. In the 1860s, the Snoqualmie Pass Wagon Road ran nearby, so if you prefer a loop instead of an out-and-back hike, you can hike back along the historic road. 

Image of the waterfall at Franklin Falls trail
Photographer: Andrea Coan 

When you get to the waterfall, plan to scramble a bit to get down to the shore. The steep trail can be slippery at times from the spray of the waterfall (or ice during early spring and late fall), so keep your hands free while you navigate the last few feet of the trail to the shore. A little bit of adventure hiking is worth it to kick back under the falls. On hot days, a dunk in the pool under the falls can be a refreshing way to cool off before the hike back. 


Is Franklin Falls open?

Franklin Falls is technically open year-round, but it’s not recommended to hike it during the winter since the trail can be covered by snow. Since it’s close to Snoqualmie Pass and nearly 2,500’ higher than Seattle, snow tends to linger for longer than you might expect during years of high snow. If you’re unsure, check the weather, as well as up-to-date trail conditions, through the onX app.

When does Franklin Falls freeze?

The waterfalls freeze in the winter, providing a truly spectacular sight to see. The trail to access the falls does get covered in snow through the winter due to its elevation, so be prepared with the proper gear and snowshoes if you plan to hike to Franklin Falls in the winter. In the spring, when flows are high due to runoff, the falls can be impressively large. Later in the summer, when the water level decreases, is a great time to explore the shore alongside the falls and pools. 

Do I need a pass for Franklin Falls?

You’ll need a valid Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually) or day pass ($5) to park at the Franklin Falls trailhead, which is right near the trailhead for the Denny Creek Trail. 

See more bucket list day hikes, like the breathtaking Kalalau Trail.

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Lily Krass

Lily Krass is a freelance storyteller based in Jackson, Wyoming. Her work has been featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, The Ski Journal, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.