Cascade Falls is a short hike to a pretty little waterfall in the Lake Quinault area of Olympic National Forest. This hike runs gently uphill, and is roughly 2 miles roundtrip, though there are several routes, so distances may vary. The Cascade Falls hike starts right across the street from the Visitor Center in the small town of Quinault.
To find the trailhead, park in parking lot behind the Visitor Center. With your back to Lake Quinault, go left around the building. Across the street and up the road about 25 yards, the trail heads up the hill away from the lake. There is also a small parking lot directly across from the trail.
The hike heads through the thick forest. Trees heavy with moss overhang the trail. Though the trail climbs, it isn’t very steep, and it is unlikely you’ll need to stop and catch your breath. In some places, the trees are so thick that the trail seems to follow a tunnel under their interlocked branches. We took dozens of pictures, because our home doesn’t have any such rainforest!
Eventually, we came to the first of three bridges. After crossing, the trail does become a bit steep, but it is a very short section. After about 50 yards, it levels out and crosses another bridge.
When you reach the waterfall, it is difficult to get a picture. It is possible to climb down to the foot of the falls, and pictures are good from there, but it was steep and dangerous. The fence was open to the trail down, so we felt okay trekking down there, but it might not be a good idea. There are logs that you must balance on, so if you do go to the base of the falls, then be very careful. The waterfall is really pretty because it splits into two parts, and the double cascade falls like twin ribbons.
The shortest route back to the parking lot is to turn around and hike the same way you came. That’s what we did, but the loop continues around and comes back to the other side of the Visitor Center. This appears to add about a quarter mile to the hike, but we didn’t do it, so we are unsure.
Cascade Falls in Lake Quinault area is a great trail for families and a beautiful waterfall. Be sure to check out our other information on the Lake Quinault area and Olympic National Park, too!