East of Skykomish
Footbridge and viewing platform
Optional .5 mile loop trail
North side of Highway 2 – look for brown National Forest sign near milepost 56.
A few days ago I posted a photo of Deception Creek, and was so focused on photography that I overlooked the park previewing part of things. It has been almost a decade since my last visit, so I don’t have my usual park detail photos and my info might be a bit dated, but I figured it’s worth doing an abbreviated preview.
Deception Falls is a National Forest Service recreation area located about ten miles east of Skykomish on Highway 2. Anyone who has driven that road more than once has probably noticed the sign, but a lot of people are in a hurry and never bother to stop. It’s also easy to pass right by at full speed before realizing you might have liked to take a look.
If you’re ever in exploring mode instead of making-great-time mode, it’s definitely worth pulling off the highway for a few minutes, or an hour. Just be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the signs so you don’t miss it.
The falls aren’t what most would consider spectacular; it’s a series of cascades rather than one giant straight drop. And since the highway passes right over part of them they’re difficult to view in their entirety. But it’s still an extremely pretty spot and the falls make a really good roar, especially in early summer.
Just off the highway is a decent sized parking lot, pit toilets, and a small picnic area.
On the east side of the paved lot there are steep stairs leading directly down to the creek and falls. But if they look a little too daunting there is a short trail you can take starting at the northwest corner of the lot. The trail provides a much more gradual descent, though it is still a respectable uphill (not steep) grade on the way back for those who find anything other than a level path difficult.
You can’t really see much without going down to creek level.
Once down at the creek you can walk out on boulders to get wonderful views of water rushing over rocks into beautiful clear pools. There is a footbridge spanning over the lower part of the falls, and on the far side some steps lead up under the highway to a viewing platform that allows you to see the upper falls.
What you will actually see depends on the time of year you visit. My photos are from autumn when the creek is a lot tamer. In spring and early summer the entire creek can be a white water torrent.
For many people Deception Falls probably isn’t worth a special trip to see on its own, but it’s a very pleasant destination as part of a day’s outing. On a hot day it can make for a wonderfully cool escape. It’s also a great place to stretch your legs after being cooped up in the car on a longer trip.
Things to Know
Even though this is a National Forest Service facility, you do not need a Northwest Forest Pass to park here.
Most people visit the falls as a rest stop while traveling over Stevens Pass. But on weekends some make it a destination for an easy family hike. (See added note below about trail improvements.)
On spring and fall weekdays the area is serene, usually with few to no other people around.
During summer travel season a lot more people stop by, and it can be crowded with families on nice weather weekends.
There is no day use fee for Deception Falls.
The parking lot gate is closed and locked during off-season due to high water and/or snow. (Oct. – April or May usually.) But there is room for a couple cars to park off the highway.
Added Note re: Trail Improvements
When I was looking up links for web resources I found info about the trails. It sounds like a lot of work has been done on the area since the last time I was there. On my last visit I don’t recall the lower loop trail existing as an official maintained trail.
The short trail directly to the falls is a paved ADA trail. The additional loop (dirt) trail branches off from the paved trail via some stairs, has interpretive signs about area ecology, and according to a couple trip reports from users, benches for rest stops. The loop is about a half-mile in length. A couple more footbridges and viewing platforms have also been added.
Stream, rocks, waterfall, footbridge, autumn leaves.
TMBR – this site has photos (and a video)