We’ve had some great weather in Washington and took advantage of it by making the gorgeous drive to Bridal Veil Falls. Seriously, the drive along the river made the trip worth it alone. The hike is rated easy which I totally get in comparison to some other hikes in the state, like oh, say Mt. Rainier. However, it definitely wasn’t as kid-friendly as other hikes we’ve been on that are also rated easy. Our big kiddos (9 and 7) did great. They loved having to traverse all the streams coming down the mountain. The littlest (3) didn’t do quite as well alone but most streams and trails segments were easy to cross with him in our arms. However, with the steep incline and tall stairs in some areas and the length of the overall trail, we were happy to have brought our carrier. We certainly used it here more than any other hike we’ve done. Besides the streams, there were also boulders and rocks to scramble over and his little legs couldn’t quite get up them a lot of the time which left him tired. We were 10 minutes from the falls when we got to a beautiful clearing. We had to cross a rock and boulder-filled stream but the trouble was at the other side. The stream opened up onto the side of the mountain, with a steep hill down 1000 feet. It was a little scary but the path was wide enough that we took a little break, took in the view, and contemplated turning around. All but one other group with kids did turn around at this point because snow was still covering the path. It was 4 feet deep and packed HARD, also read: icy. You had to shimmy down the steep, muddy hill to grab a rope (that some lovely hiker had left tied to a tree) and pull yourself up another steep, muddy incline. We watched lots of other groups do it and then a family with a 15 lb babe went up. We decided to go for it. Brandon went up first with Wesley in his carrier, followed by the two big boys, and me at the back. It actually was physically easy, it was just knowing that if you slipped you might end up slipping down the side of the mountain.
The next part of the hike was actually the easiest of the whole trail. There was a boardwalk in places and level ground in most parts. The falls were about 7 minutes after the rope climb. We would have hated to turn back being so close to the falls. The falls themselves were awesome! The lower viewpoint was nice, but we headed up the trail stairs to the top to get as close as we could. There was a lot of spray that my oldest didn’t mind, but the other two hated. My kids (okay and me, too) love to get as close to the water as possible and this waterfall did not disappoint. You could climb right up to the pool at the bottom of the falls if you were willing to brave the spray. As you can see from the picture of Corbin above, the water was icy cold. We hung out near the falls for a bit, had another snack and then made our way back down.
The way down the rope was terrifying. As we neared it, a middle-aged man asked if we’d like some help with the boys so he went down first and stood at the bottom of the rope to make sure that they didn’t slide down and to help them get back up the other side of the incline back up to the trail. The tricky part here was that there wasn’t much to hold on to except icy snow so it didn’t feel exactly stable. Other hikers offered hands to all of us (and everyone else coming back) as we climbed the muddy make-shift trail back to the main trail. It was really nice to experience the camaraderie of hikers. I’m a sucker for feeling part of a community and this was no different. Plus, I felt a little safer knowing so many people would lend a hand to help if we were in trouble.
Overall, we’d do this 5-mile hike again, but into the summer when the snow pack is completely melted. Unless you are going to carry little ones, I’d stick with ages 5 and up for kiddos, but you know your own the best. Also, when we chatted with several people at the waterfall, we noticed we had all clocked this hike at 2.8 miles so far, from the parking lot so it’s closer to a five-mile hike than the four listed on WTA.
The Washington Trails Association has good information about directions and up-to-date reports from hikers that give information about current trail conditions. Note that parking areas on this trail require a Northwest Forest Pass.