Go Beyond the Falls in Snoqualmie
With natural beauty galore less than 30 miles outside of Seattle, the small town of Snoqualmie draws visitors from around the Northwest each year. Scenic viewpoints, easy hikes and the neighboring city of North Bend make the Snoqualmie area uniquely charming and perfect for couples and families.
A trip to Snoqualmie is usually instigated by its most famous tourist attraction: the 268-foot-tall Snoqualmie Falls, one of the most spectacular — and powerful — waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. It’s beautiful all year round, but flows most freely in the winter and spring. Just be prepared to get a little wet at the easily accessible upper observation deck. The Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Plant’s two powerhouses below the falls harness the kinetic energy of the Snoqualmie River with water-spun turbines that generate electricity for the Seattle area. Visitors can drive down to the hydropower plant — one of the oldest in the U.S. — to walk around it and along the river for another impressive view of the waterfall.
The mile-long Class II rapids between the second powerhouse and Plum’s Landing are well suited for training beginner whitewater kayakers. Tubing and canoeing are popular activities further downstream. Families seeking open space should consider spending some time at the Three Forks Natural Area where the Snoqualmie River’s south fork, north fork and middle fork come together. Three Forks has more than 200 acres of open space, including the picnic-worthy Centennial Fields, a large park with close-up views of Mount Si. The Three Forks Off-Leash Dog Park is an ideal stop for those traveling with four-legged friends. If the weather warms and you find yourself wanting to dip your toes in the river, Sandy Cove Park has grassy open areas and picnic tables by the river, while Riverview Park has a variety of playground equipment.
Nature and History
The Snoqualmie Valley Trail is the most well known of the local trails by hikers. The trail spans more than 30 miles from Duvall to just south of North Bend, passing through the Stillwater Natural Area and a handful of other noteworthy spots. The multi-use trail is great for those who want to tackle the full length by bike. Make sure to look out for Tokul Trestle, a scenic, 1911 rail bridge over a 400-foot-wide gorge just a couple miles from Snoqualmie Falls. Find an abundance of wildlife, native flora and stunning prairie fields at Meadowbrook Farm. The cities of Snoqualmie and North Bend jointly acquired the 460-acre farm for historic and cultural interpretation, helping to educate visitors on the wildlife and wetlands as well as the history of the Snoqualmie Tribe.
Keep your eyes peeled for the resident elk herd, one of the park’s most popular attractions. In addition to wildlife viewing and walking trails, the farm has art installation in honor of native Snoqualmie herbalist and midwife Marie Louie. After a day or two outside, explore the Northwest Railway Museum, which has multiple locations including the 1890 Snoqualmie Depot, the Railway History Center and the Centennial Trail Exhibit. The Interpretive Railway Program lets visitors ride through the Upper Snoqualmie Valley aboard one of the historic coaches. Be sure to check out the nearby Snoqualmie Railroad Graveyard, particularly if you’re carting little ones. Downtown Snoqualmie has a brightly colored totem pole with almost 80 years of history. Venture to the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum in North Bend to learn more about the area’s native culture.
Local Tastes and a Cult Classic
Snoqualmie is an ideal mountain escape that pairs well with local brews for a couples’ retreat or low-key weekend with a group of friends. The Snoqualmie Falls Brewery and Tap Room is a good place to start, offering a cozy atmosphere, pub grub and quality beers like Wildcat IPA, one of the brewery’s original recipes. No Boat Brewing Co. is a convenient stop for a tasting at the top of Snoqualmie Ridge. Nearby wineries worth include Sigillo Cellars, Convergence Zone Cellars and Mount Si Winery. The Northwest Railway Museum’s Wine Train is a unique experience for wine tasting stops with local food and music. Always remember to plan a safe ride home.
North Bend was the primary filming location for Twin Peaks, the ‘90s crime drama that featured Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge and Spa in the opening credits. Grab some cherry pie at Twede’s Cafe — the Double R Diner from Twin Peaks — and walk across the Snoqualmie Valley Trail’s Reinig Bridge, which was the eerie rail trestle crossed by the TV show’s Ronette Pulaski at the beginning of the dark series.
–Written by Maggy Lehmicke, last updated in September 2022.