Wallace Falls is one of the gems of the Washington State Park system. It is located about 1 hour northeast of Seattle in the wonderfully scenic Skykomish River Valley and it’s a popular destination on weekends, especially during the summer. However, winter is perhaps the best time to visit when Wallace Creek is flowing hard with high volume. There are three separate falls, with the middle falls being the most iconic with a 367 foot drop over three tiers with the largest and most famous tier dropping 265 feet. This photogenic falls is even visible from the Skykomish River Valley. The upper falls has five separate tiers totaling 240 feet, with one larger drop that is also very scenic. Finally, the lower falls also has five separate tiers totaling 212 feet. This area can have snow cover for much of the winter, but El Nino was making its presence known in Washington State which means relatively dry and mild weather conditions. I have never seen the trails so dry and the air temperature so warm in January – it felt like spring for Western Washington. In fact, January 2010 turned out to be the warmest January on record for Seattle! Fortunately, the waterfalls were still flowing strong due to snow melt higher up and rains earlier in the month. Check out the video (4:28) I made of the falls!
Wallace Falls used to be a stretch destination for quality trail running. The single track trail next to the falls is highly technical and steep while the rest of the options were abandoned logging roads (i.e. not the most engaging). This all changed with completion of the 1.9 mile Greg Ball Trail which allows for a great loop with majority on single track. The trail provides an awesome descent with tight turns, but not very technical so you can keep up your speed. It follows near the north fork of Wallace Creek for a section with more great waterfalls and cascades in a rocky chasm. In addition, I made a side trip around Wallace Lake for total mileage of around 11 miles.
The new trail is named in honor of Greg Ball (1944-2004) who was the founder and director of the volunteer trial maintenance program for the Washington Trails Association. Over a decade, Greg grew the program into one of the largest volunteer trail building programs in the nation, with over 500,000 volunteer hours logged over a ten year span in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. I was fortunate enough to work with Greg Ball on a trail building project on the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River back in 2001. Greg left an impression on me that day and I was inspired by his love of the mountains and his dedication to the community. I was sad to hear of his passing several years later. He designed the trail now named after him, but it was only completed a couple years ago. I’m glad that such a beautiful trail was named in honor of Greg and it was great to finally check it out.
Many more photos of the falls, lush scenery, Wallace Lake, and Greg Ball Trail after the jump!