Do you yearn to be more outdoorsy, but feel like you don’t know where to start? Let me be your hiking guru and I'll walk you through it!
Franklin Falls is my favorite hike recommendation for any skill level. It's one of the closest hikes to Seattle and offers a big payoff for little effort.
Just hop on I-90 east for about 45 minutes (assuming the traffic gods have blessed you) to North Bend. You'll find a parking lot right at the trailhead! Yes, *sigh* a Northwest Forest pass is required. But, hot tip: If you park along the Alpental Road, you can walk an extra 10 minutes (following signage to the trailhead) and skip the cost of a pass. That being said, sometimes it is better to just bite the bullet and buy the pass if that gives you peace of mind. Plus, if you have the pass, odds are you'll have more incentive to plan future hikes.
I love this hike because, even though it only takes an hour to complete, you still get to cross bridges and navigate your way through different terrain, giving you the same satisfaction of a big hike. Here, you can actually enjoy the babbling brooks and chat with your hiking buddy without trying to catch your breath.
At just two miles (there and back), with little elevation gain, you follow a well-maintained trail alongside a river dotted with cute cabins. You are met with a stunning waterfall oasis that makes you go "Wow, how is this only an hour away?"
Franklin Falls is fun in any season. I have comfortably done this hike in the snow (highly suggest: It feels like a winter wonderland), in the rain, and on the hottest summer day (yes, I jumped in the river—yes it was cold!)
You can feel confident bringing the whole fam along, this is a great hike for littles, newbies and the most seasoned of hikers.
You might be asking yourself, "But hiking guru, whatever do I bring!?"
Shh, I’ve got you.
LAYERS, BABY! Washington weather is moody—pack a sweatshirt/jacket even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Odds are, you will. You can't go wrong with leggings/joggers. They are light and breathable so you won't get too hot, but supply enough coverage that you won't be cold, either. It's all about balance.
Franklin Falls in particular has a cooler climate since it’s shaded by dense forest and lines a glacial river. I always bring a light raincoat when I do this hike. Though not for everyone, I like to get up close and personal with the waterfall spray to feel at one with Mother Nature. *Cue viral video of Drew Barrymore in the rain*
Even though I recommend hiking boots (I got mine at Costco for $25), you could totally get away with doing this hike in a good pair of sneakers. It’s that manageable.
And yes, this hike is on the shorter side, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the trail snacks. I’m talking apples, protein bars, goldfish crackers, the whole shebang. There's nothing worse than being hangry in the woods.
Wear your sunscreen (yes, even if it's cloudy). UV rays are deceiving and we all want to age like fine wine, right?
Last thing, and this goes for ALL hikes—get there early! Trust me on this. Washington hikes are popular and you don't want to have to maneuver your way through crowds of people on your outdoor excursion.
Make a morning of it—stop at the cutest, most charming coffee stand you can find.
Maddison Newell is a Journalism student at the University of Washington and an intern for Seattle Refined.