Itinerary #6: Waterfall Wonders Near Shelton, Washington
It’s undeniable that cascading waterfalls tucked into hidden nooks are simply and quintessentially Hood Canal. Though winter and early spring are optimal for peeping these rushing beauties, there's still plenty to see in the summertime.
As the rain falls, it keeps our hillsides the vibrant green that makes the Olympic Peninsula feel like home. This also means the waters rise, and the cascades fill in. So check the forecast, grab your best adventure buddies, and get to some of the most beautiful gems that Hood Canal has to offer.
*Editor's note: While the swimmers in the photos do a dang good job of making it look like they are hanging out on a hot day, the truth is that it was freezing cold that day. Take the polar bear plunge! Or stay high and dry. Choose your own adventure!
Click here for tour map and driving directions, and see our detailed notes on each destination below. This trip is ideal for Seattle weekend road trippers taking advantage of the Kingston Ferry, looping up through Port Gamble, then down Hwy 101.
Take the plunge | 10am
Situated just north of Brinnon, Rocky Brook Falls remains one of the best easy-to-reach waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula. After a 1986 micro hydro project was installed at the top of the falls, locals feared that the falls would run dry. Thanks to operators of the facility, the beautiful 229’ tall falls run year-round.
For the waterfall nerds out there, Rocky Brook’s primary form is in tiered horsetails, with three thundering drops until it reaches the small pool below.
Upon arriving at Rocky Creek, park just beyond the small bridge and follow the trail that leads past the hydro facility for about 500 feet. Note that the rocks around the pool can be slick, especially when wet, so it’s best to exercise caution.
Test your navigation skills | 1pm
Little is written about these falls, and visiting them requires a fair bit of exploring. Over the years, a number of the most intrepid kayakers have ventured to the Olympic Peninsula in order to run Hamma Hamma Falls. The boiling pool at the bottom of its pristine and highly technical 25’ first drop gives paddlers just enough time to set up for the 50’ drop immediately after.
Note that the kayakers in this video are professionals and that any amateur attempt to navigate the falls by way of watercraft would surely be a death wish:
A concrete bridge spans the river over the falls at the fall line of the upper drop, but an adventure-seeker will need to navigate the lower banks to get a full-frontal view of this beauty.
Re-orientate your GPS | 2pm
Just three miles downstream, Lower Hamma Hamma Falls is the slightly-less-majestic sister to the beaut upstream. Dropping into a small gorge, the falls tumble over a large pile of boulders. As such, it’s difficult to see the whole falls from any one location and it is advised to exercise extreme caution when trying to gain a better downstream view.
Get a great view at High Steel Bridge | 4pm
No waterfall itinerary would be complete without a trip to the historic High Steel Bridge that spans the gorge and sits a staggering 300’ above the mighty South Fork of the Skokomish River.
The vertigo-inducing High Steel Bridge has an uncontested view of the last cascade on the itinerary, Vincent Creek Falls, and is easily accessed from Hwy 101. It’s also a quick pit stop after an awesome wintery afternoon of mountain biking if you happen to visit the area on a dry-ish day.
Wash it down in Union, Washington | 6pm
Here’s the ultimate challenge of your day: organize it so that the end of your satisfyingly adventurous day brings you straight to a good cocktail at Robin Hood Village Resort. Oh, and be sure you get an order or two of the lemon drop prawns while you’re at it–deelish!
As you sort through the memories of a day well spent, remember that we love keeping up with you! Tag your photos and thoughts on social media with #explorehoodcanal, #wildsideWA, or #hoodcanal for a chance to be featured by us.