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Wallace Falls - Lake Loop

Central Cascades

Location

Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
View map below

Length

9.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1544 ft.
Highest Point: 1844 ft.

Rating

3.47 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 
 

This fine loop trail gives you scenery, mileage, and some elevation gain, with the bonus of being hikeable year-round. Start by wandering along the Wallace River as it tumbles down from the famous falls. Get your pictures of the falls, then continue your hike by including the large forested Wallace Lake. Return through a green shag carpet of moss, sword ferns and hemlock, following the North Fork Wallace River as it rushes to meet the main Wallace River and your return trail.

First, be sure that you have a trail map for reference. If necessary, take a picture of the trail map posted on the window of the ranger’s booth. Although the intersections are signed, there are many, and it is handy to have something to refer to, if in doubt.

Start your hike by following an access road under the power lines. Come to an intersection and a marker dedicated to Senator Frank Woody for whom the trail is named. Stay right on the Woody Trail, enter woods and head downhill toward the sound of the Wallace River. There is a short side trail marked Small Falls which leads to, as you may expect, a small falls. It's well worth the short walk.

Once back along the river, there are lots of viewpoints and a few benches. In summer, this is a busy place, as lots of families come here to enjoy a picnic by the river. Start climbing above the river. On a nice day, the light rays that come through the spindly trees make for some good pictures. Stay on the Woody trail when you reach an intersection for the railroad cutoff, and then the intersection with the Greg Ball trail. You will be returning from your hike on one of these trails.

Reach a high point, head downhill on some well built stairs, and cross the North Fork Wallace River on a good sturdy bridge. Once across, head uphill to the Lower Falls viewpoint and picnic shelter. Soon there will be some great views out across the Snohomish Valley and if you’re lucky, all the way over to the Olympics. From the lower falls, you can glimpse the large falls ahead. Keep heading up and in just over two miles from the trailhead, you will be at the middle falls. This is the best view yet of the spectacular upper falls. There is a nice viewpoint with a railing around it that will allow you to get a good look and stay safe. The water here falls is 265 feet, and is visible from Highway 2.

Once the picture taking is done, head on up to the last viewpoint, in just over a half mile, where you look down from the top of the falls. To continue on to the lake, look for the trail behind the sign. It may be hard to locate. Some of this trail is well defined, but some of it gets lost in roots and rocks. Look for blue diamonds, about six feet up, on some of the trees, and follow these, and consult your map. This trail climbs a short way to meet a DNR forest road. Once you meet the road, turn left and follow the road for 1.7 miles.

While road walks aren't known for their aesthetic value, but keep an eye out for pussy willows, salmonberry, coltsfoot and skunk cabbage in the spring, and mushrooms in the fall. These various flora make the wide road more interesting. But don't get sidetracked by spur roads--your next intersection is signed. Turn right and follow the road a half mile to Wallace Lake. There is a camping area off to the right here, but you'll proceed straight ahead. Cross the bridge over the outlet stream and have lunch at the picnic table on the other side.

For better views of the lake, follow the old road along the lake. There are several points where you can climb down and access the lakeshore, but the best views are at the end of the lake. Keep following the trail past the sign for Jay Lake. Cross the inlet stream on some rock filled rubber steps, then hop across more streams. From here, make your way down to the shoreline for some great views of the lake and the surrounding hills. Once done exploring the lake, head back, but instead of crossing the bridge, turn to the right and head down to meet the road. Here you will turn right, and after a few hundred yards on your left, look for a sign for the trailhead via the road. Just past that sign is another one denoting the Greg Ball trail on your left. This is the trail you want.

This beautifully built trail is named in memory of Greg Ball, the man who launched the WTA trail maintenance program. The path winds gently downhill, through a green carpet of moss and sword ferns, as it follows the North Fork of the Wallace River. You can see some remnants of the forest that once stood here long ago, old stumps with the springboard holes still visible through the covering of moss. There are some spectacular waterfalls here too. Listen for water crashing through a narrow gorge in the rock. Take a look, but there are no safety barriers as of now, so stay away from the edge.

There are two ways to finish the loop, both end up back on the Woody trail. Stay on the Greg Ball Trail after it crosses the road, or walk the road a short way, and take the Railroad Cutoff. The cutoff is a little shorter, dropping 500 feet to the Woody trail. Head out the Woody trail, and finish your hike with a view of Mount Index and Mount Baring through the power lines on your way out.

WTA Pro Tip: To extend your hike, continue on the trail past Wallace Lake to Jay Lake, an easy flat mile further. There is a backcountry campground at Jay Lake, consisting of tent sites, a picnic table and a composting toilet.

Overnight permits are required for camping at Jay Lake and Wallace Lake. Please call the park office to acquire a permit prior to arrival at 360-793-0420. There is a maximum of 5 persons per campsite. Camp only at designated campsites.

 

Wallace Falls - Lake Loop

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.8670, -121.6782 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West

Washington State Parks

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Guidebooks & Maps

Wallace Falls State Park PDF Map: https://bit.ly/2NzA3pf

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

Drive west on Highway 2 until you reach the town of Gold Bar. At Gold Bar, turn north off the highway, where a sign indicates ‘Wallace Falls State Park 1/4 mile’. The turn will be onto 1st Street, and there is a left turn lane. From 1st Street, turn right onto May Creek Road and proceed a little more than one mile. At the park sign, make a sharp left, go up the hill and into the parking lot. There is ample parking, but this is a very popular place, so you will want to get there early, as the parking lot fills up fast. There are facilities by the parking lot, and a Discover Pass dispenser if you forgot yours.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass
 

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Wallace Falls - Lake Loop

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