Falling For Waterfalls
Boulder River Trail, Arlington/Darrington
As much as I love the great outdoors of Snohomish County, It’s not always all that easy to get myself up and out for hiking. If there is one thing that is guaranteed to get me moving though, it would be waterfalls. Although, the easier they are to get to, the more true that is (I’m not going to discuss the Wallace Falls Trail … three years later is still too soon).
Lucky for me, and all of you, there are some pretty awesome ones that are super easy to get to:
- North Fork Sauk Falls in Darrington (Mtn Loop Hwy)
- Explorer Falls in Snohomish
- Big Four Ice Caves in Granite Falls (both the cave and off the beaten path)
- Two with a short walk required located near the Verlot Ranger Station (Mtn Loop Hwy) … sorry, not giving away more than that, aren’t I a stinker!
The Boulder River Trail, located along Highway 530 between Arlington and Darrington, belongs on this list as well. While the trail itself is about 8 1/2 miles round-trip, the waterfalls that make it so popular are located about 1 1/2 miles, with the hike to them being one of the easiest we’ve done. Climbin down, and back up from them, is a bit of a different story, but it makes for a good workout, and is optional.
Beyond being easy, there are several things that make this trail awesome. Depsite the fact that the long gravel road to it is more than a little bumpy (little cars beware, no seriously, our track felt like it was part of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland at times), the trail itself is incredibly well maintained. Not only that, there are more flower types scattered along the trail than I’ve seen on any other (catch them in the View From Here piece next). Some of them might actually be weeds since I don’t know much about flowers, but they still look good to me.
We’ve done this trail three times now, each time, our adventuring going only as far as the falls. It’s one of our annual starter hike because of it’s length and how easy it is. The trail itself is wide and flat for about the first mile, with a moderate, but totally doable for all, towards the end of that portion. What follows is a narrower, often rocky, journey that is fairly easy to traverse on the way to the falls, not so much on the way back if you climbed back up from the falls (that might just be me though, I have bad knees, and I am a big girl).
Throughout the trail leading up to the falls, you are treated to the Boulder River, which is more seen until you get closer. The falls, themselves will be off to your left, and believe me you won’t be able to miss them regardless of the time of year. I say “falls” somewhat hesitantly due to them coming out at the same high point before splitting into two as they make their way down the rocky hillside (or is it mountainside, hmmmm). Depending on the time of year, the falls could appear more as one or obviously two. Whether there is actually one or two, the world may never know!
Again, depending on the time of year, there could be a higher flow at some times and a lower one at others. Regardless of the amount of water though, they are a sight to see. There is just something about the masive height of the waterfall, and being able to get so close, literally within 15-20 feet of the base, that makes them absolutely beautiful and keeps hikers coming back time and time again.
As I’ve mentioned, there is a bit of a climb down to get down to the falls. It is off the regular trail and not necessary to get a view of the falls that is more than worth the hike. If you want to get up close and personal though, it is necessary. If decide to venture down, use caution. It is quite rocky, and if you are short like me, you may need to sit down at points . Most importantly, make sure you are confident about climbing back up before you go down. That said, if I can manage it, anyone can, it’s just a workout on your arms and legs, and definitely the hardest part of the hike.
Once you reat the bottom, you are treated to a small rocky beach area directly across from the falls, with the only thing standing between you and them being a narrow portion of the Boulder River. Depending on the time of year, there are calm pools you can deep your toes into, and rocks you can make your way around on, again using caution as they are wet. The river itself is fast moving though, and should be avoided at parts of the year where it is higher.
It is an amazing spot to just sit and spend some time relaxing. Now that I think about it, I don’t think you’ll be able to stop yourself from doing just that. The falls are captivating and you won’t want to just take a picture and go. You’ll want to take them in, enjoying their size and beauty, as well as the soothing sound of the river and falls cascading down the rocks. Sorry about all that, sometimes nature just gets to me like that. That would mean the Boulder River Falls is definitely one of my happy places.
By all means, don’t just sit there though. It is a good spot to walk around and explore, maybe even enjoy a snack or some lunch. Actually, it would be a cool picnic spot as well depending on how crowded the beach is. An idea for next time maybe. We usually eat a little something and spend thirty minutes, or a bit longer hanging out, and taking a million pictures (that applies only to me).
If 3 or so miles roundtrip is too easy for you, you can always continue along the trail. The ending point is another section of the river, as well as camping spots if you are so inclined. I can’t speak for the rest of the trail as we’ve only ventured maybe a mile further than the falls. Finding it less flat and rocky, we turned around and headed back. For us, and most, the falls are the attraction and the end point. And, considering I don’ toften visit places more than once you know this hike is a good one and one you should try if you haven’t already.
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