National Parks/Monuments

Happy Creek Forest Walk and Waterfall

(Last Updated On: November 4, 2021)

Boy have I got a story for you! It started at the Happy Creek Forest Walk in North Cascades National Park. This easy, short trail is located in the Ross Lake section of the park along Hwy 20. The parking area is on the south side of the road near the Ross Lake Overlook. There isn’t a huge sign, so keep your eye out to find the Happy Creek Forest Walk.

The trail starts by this sign.

Happy Creek Forest Walk

We enjoyed this small trail, much of which is a boardwalk. The Happy Creek Forest Walk would be appropriate for wheels, too. It is a very short loop that starts in the trees and heads over to a small tinkling stream. The trees are thick and a bit mossy, and the air is rich with loamy smells. Almost everything is wet and earthy all the time. We loved walking among the huge trees and relaxing in the greenery. This loop is only 0.3 mile roundtrip.

Most of this walk is along a boardwalk.
The forest is so thick here.
There are a few benches along the way.
Happy Creek is a little stream that runs along one side of the trail.

Happy Creek Waterfall

As we walked along the trail, we saw a turnoff sign. It was at the far end of the loop and the sign said, “Waterfall.” If you have followed us on social media, you know that we love the wonder of waterfalls. We decided that we would have to come back when we had more time and attempt this one. After all, according to the sign it was only 1.2 miles to the falls. We love unexpected adventures like this, we hadn’t read anything about this waterfall, so we were excited to make the attempt.

There is a small sign the marks the trail to the waterfall.

Well, we did make it to the waterfall. However, we must report that it was the most difficult 1.2 miles we’ve ever hiked! The trail climbed straight up the side of the mountain. According to our trail tracker, the elevation gain to the waterfall was just over a thousand feet in that 1.2 miles! In fact, we passed two different groups headed in the opposite direction. Both of them told us that they’d never reached the falls and had turned around!

The trail climbs immediately.
We couldn’t believe how much this hike climbed.
The kids got pretty worn out!

We did reach the falls. It was a pretty cascade, but not nearly as impressive as the climb merited. There was also some old mining equipment that was lying about, and a sign explaining a bit of the history of the creek. We did feel some sense of accomplishment, but I also felt pain in my knees for over a week as a reward for all that climbing! We wouldn’t really recommend this additional hike unless you are really looking to fill time and want to burn some serious calories.

Watch for some mining equipment in the stream.
We made it!

Make sure to stop and try Happy Creek Forest Walk if you are in the area. And if you are up for a serious workout, make your way to the waterfall.

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