5 Ridiculously Easy Waterfalls for the Lazy Hiker
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most breath-taking areas of America for nature-lovers. There is no limit to the amount of gorgeous trails, cascading waterfalls, and endless shades of green the Northwest has to offer. However, for many of us, these hikes can be strenuous, if not impossible. For those of us who want to be awed by cascading waterfalls, but don’t want to work too hard for it, there are still stunning hikes which are extremely short, easy, and accessible.
Lower Lewis River Falls (Skamania County, Washington)
If you would rather ditch the trekking poles and simply enjoy a nice picnic with an incredible view, this is an ideal spot. While getting to the trail is a bit of a drive, it is an incredibly short hike. The magnificent Lower Lewis River Falls is located only a few hundred feet away from the parking lot and can be admired from a few different viewing areas. However, if visitors find that this isn’t enough of a challenge, there are several miles worth of trails leading to other cascading waterfalls along the Lewis River Trail.
- Distance: less than 500 feet (to overlook)
- Northwest Forest Pass required
- Family friendly
- Pit Toilets available
White River Falls (Wasco County, Oregon)
Having been featured in numerous PNW trail guides, this waterfall is definitely a gem of north central Oregon. This thundering waterfall plunges into the White River from a height of 90 feet, and can be easily enjoyed from a viewing area. While the trail going down to the falls is short, it is somewhat rugged. Visitors can also observe the rusting remnants of the early 20th century power plant which once operated here.
-Distance: About 1 mile (round trip)
-No parking pass required
Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Gorge, Oregon)
The tallest and perhaps most iconic waterfall in Oregon, Multnomah Falls is located right off the Historic Columbia River Highway and is a primary destination for many traveling through the Northwest. Close enough to see from the parking lot, this is the ultimate waterfall for lazy hikers (although I do strongly recommend getting out of the car for this one). The amount you hike here is completely based on your own comfort level, whether you chose to view the falls from a nearby bench, or get up close and hike the trail all the way to the top of the 620 ft. tall waterfall.
-Distance: About 2 miles (*see note)
-No parking pass required
-Gift shop / Food available
*Note: Due to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, many of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge have been damaged and/or closed. As for Multnomah Falls, much of the trail leading to the top of the falls has been closed off. However, the lower viewing platform re-opened in the spring of 2018, so visitors can still enjoy a full view of the magnificent waterfall.
Tumalo Falls (Deschutes County, Oregon)
Located closely off the road, Tumalo Falls is a spectacular sight. Although the exact height of the waterfall seems to be in dispute (some say 89 feet, while others say 98 feet), it is a magnificent sight nonetheless. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are several more waterfalls located throughout Tumalo Creek. But if you only want to walk out to the overlook and relax, watch the cascading water, take a nap, talk to squirrels, then go for it — I’m not here to judge.
-Distance: About ¼ mile (to overlook)
-Northwest Forest Pass required (or $5 day use fee)
Staircase Rapids Loop Trail (Olympic National Park, Washington)
The magnificence of the PNW is perhaps most epitomized by the view of a rushing river surrounded by towering Doug Firs and moss-covered rocks. These are the elements which make Olympic National Park such a treasure. Not only does this trail play host to these incredible views, it is mostly flat and is a great option for families.
-Distance: 2 miles (loop trail)
-National Park Pass required (or entry fee of $25 for cars / $10 to walk in)