I’ve been to a lot of waterfalls in Washington State, among other places, and Bridal Veil Falls, is one of my favorites.
The trailhead is only located about an hour and a half Northeast of Seattle (in fair traffic) along Highway 2 just outside of Gold Bar. So, for those of you live in or are visiting the region, this may be a good day adventure for you. However, I will offer a caution that I wish was extended to me prior to my visit. A National Forest Pass is needed to park your vehicle, a Discover Pass will not work. I picked a day pass up for $5 at Gold Bar Family Grocer (1111 Croft Ave, Gold Bar, WA 98251) or
You can also purchase and print one to display in your vehicle from the USDA at:
I read reports about vandalism of vehicles in the parking lot prior to my visit and one of the first things I saw was the remnants of a broken window. My car was not messed with while I hiked. The recommendation is to make sure your valuables are out of sight if possible. My philosophy is to make it less appealing but knowing that being gone for so long there really is no guarantee.
There are two outhouse restrooms in the parking lot. I did not see any others along the trail to the falls. I recommend making a pit stop prior to the hike. If however, you are a person that must go frequently, there are plenty of hiding places along the way, just come prepared, it’s a pack in pack out trail.
On this trek, I only went to the falls, which is roughly 25% of the way to the lake. I made it to the Trailhead late and I had to turn around to get a park (parking pass) that took additional time. I also wanted to spend time at the falls didn’t think I had the time to do the trail safely and enjoyably before sunset. The sun set as I drove through Monroe on the way out. Wise decision on my part.
Most of the people I bumped into along the trail were friendly and most said at least hello. There were a few people with whom I actually had good conversations. That was surprising to me. As a person of color and having lived / been to quite a few rural areas in recent years, my experiences have not always been pleasant. Yet, on the day I visited the people who were on the trail with me were also interested in human connection and at a minimum politeness and common decency. Qualities I think are often in short supply in our society of recent.
The trail to the falls is quite moderate (in dry weather). Roughly 25% of it is compacted gravel with only a slight slope. However, the rest gets more intense after the gravel. Much of the trail is over rock and if they were wet it would have probably been slick. The rest of the trail to the falls included a lot of wooden stairs and raised plank pathways– beautiful, natural, and flowing. However, I also know them to become slick in the rain. The trail crosses a few stream beds that depending on the time of year may be fuller than others. A minor word of advice would be to wear shoes that will either protect from water or that you do not mind getting wet. I am personally not a fan of hiking with wet feet, so my preference is to have waterproof boots on hikes like this so that nothing slows me down or leaves me uncomfortable. The tradeoff of course, is less agility.
I do not have children, so those of you who do please consider the follow with care. The trail I have described seems to be manageable for most relatively fit people. There are a few questionable spots in terms of falling off the trail, but we’re easy to work around with care. The falls itself has a fenced off area where it is quite simple to look at the falls and be happy. However, there is nothing to prevent climbing into the stream bed. The falls is relatively easy to maneuver around, but the ground again is entirely composed of rock that may become quite slick. This is a risky place because the falls we view sits atop another drop. My concern is that small children excited by the falls, and on slick rocks, may not be aware of the potential risk if viewing the falls from the stream bed.
Going slowly up, it took me about an hour to an hour and a half to make it to the falls. I was taking pictures and enjoying nature. It could be done much faster. Having been to many waterfalls and this being one of my favorites, I will definitely be returning and making the trek to the lake in the future. It is sometimes hard to find places that are so well known, even as remote as this is, to chill and meditate for a while in peace.
There was a very calming sensation I felt underneath the falls.
Next time, I will not be so preoccupied with photos and videos and I will be able to absorb more of the energy there. If you venture up after reading this I would love to know what you thought about it and perhaps see some of your photos as well.