One of the beautiful aspects to visiting Seattle is getting out to explore the Pacific Northwest outdoors. A short drive to the east for an easy Seattle day trip is Snoqualmie Falls. If you’re familiar with the TV show “Twin Peaks” you might know the majestic Snoqualmie Falls where the Snoqualmie River drops some 268 feet. A Seattle day trip to Snoqualmie Falls with kids provides a few hours or even a full day of fun.
When Stacey and I first visited Seattle in July 2003 we made a quick trip out to Snoqualmie Falls, as in we stayed for about 20 minutes before quickly driving back to the city for lunch. We were visiting friends who said we must visit the falls, even if for a really quick visit.
That visit came on a beautifully sunny July morning. One of the things I remember is how the powerful water flowing over the edge glistened in the bright late-morning sun that was just above.
Fast forward to October 2015 on our return visit with our son and the weather was a little cooler and wetter. But a light rain wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying a quick visit to Snoqualmie Falls with kids.
We visited the same friends, only this time they had two small children of their own. They’ve explored Snoqualmie Falls before, but I wanted Colby to see this beautiful sight. I also wanted to get a taste of the outdoors in October, probably my favorite month of the year. And it didn’t disappoint.
The drive from Seattle only took about 40 minutes. We stayed near the Madison Park neighborhood, which is just east of downtown Seattle. Along Interstate 90, Snoqualmie Falls is only about 30 miles east, making for a convenient Seattle day trip.
The drive along Snoqualmie Parkway is just a few minutes through the mountains before arriving at the free public parking lot across the street from the falls and the Salish Lodge and Spa. We parked and quickly walked through the damp late-morning air to the overview decks looking down to the water below.
If you want to just have a quick peek at the beautiful falls, no problem. Parking is easy, and the walk to the overlook takes about a minute. You can take a quick look, grab a few pictures and be on your way.
Or, enjoy the views for a while. We certainly did.
After enjoying the views we decided to get a closer look down below.
There is a walking trail that starts at a public restroom that winds itself down through the trees and under massive power lines that connect to the powerhouse adjacent to the river below. There is a second parking lot at the bottom that gives easy access to the lower part of the falls, but part of the fun is walking down the path. We found it easy enough with three children and took no more than 10 minutes to get to the bottom.
The gravel trail descends about 250 feet over half a mile. It provides educational opportunities for children with interpretive plaques that describe wildlife such as ferns, bigleaf maple, western hemlock, Douglas fir and others.
Once down the trail there is a boardwalk that goes next to the river and out to an endpoint where views of the falls are in the distance.
And don’t worry about the kids; this boardwalk has a high fence keeping everyone safe.
Snoqualmie Falls generates electricity for Puget Sound Energy, which manages the site.
Back at the top of the falls is Salish Lodge and Spa. I haven’t even stepped foot in the lodge to know anything about it, but it is important to note its presence. The lodge has 84 guestrooms, many of which have views of the Snoqualmie River. There is a spa and two restaurants.
The lodge began as an eight-room inn built in 1916. The building was remodeled in 1988 and reopened as the Salish Lodge.
If I lived in the area I’d want to spend a weekend of relaxation at Salish Lodge and Spa. But on a Seattle day trip to Snoqualmie Falls with kids, well, the lodge serves a great purpose as a beautiful backdrop above the falls.
And if time permits and the season is right — which for us in October, it was — stop off at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery where you can learn a lot about the journey salmon make up the river. We were there in October, so it was the height of the season for salmon to swim up the river. The Issaquah hatchery is the most visited in the state.
And for lunch or just a few local brews, next door is the Issaquah Brew House. Besides the great beer and good food, this place is fun for kids, too. You don’t have to worry about loud children here. But there also is a corner activity station where kids can play while mom and dad enjoy a beverage or two.