exploring deschutes falls park

Happy Monday, friends! (And a happy short week, too!) We had a great weekend here exploring our new digs, yet again, and we really enjoyed spending some time together as a family before Ryan leaves again next week. I’ve mentioned before that we really want to get out and explore as much of the PNW as possible while we’re stationed here, and we’ve been doing really well at that thus far, thankfully! We decided this weekend that Saturday would be spent close to home. We did another Wear Blue, Run to Remember 5k, which was so fun, yet again. Sunday, however, we decided to head down to Deschutes Falls Park in Yelm, WA.

This private park only recently reopened last year after being closed for many years due to accidental deaths, park damage, and inadequate management. Thurston County, however, reopened the park with a full-time live-in caretaker at the head of the trail so that visitors can, once again, enjoy the 400-foot gorge, easy hike, and views of the 27-foot waterfall.

I’d read up on the hike enough before we headed out to know that this was a good starting point for the boys. We’re by no means great hikers, but it’s a big goal of ours to get out, hike, explore, and get the boys really interested in exploring all our natural world has to offer. The hike, itself, is only about three-quarters of a mile, but you can add or subtract distance, as well, based on where you want to explore.

We took some time at the bottom of the trail to view the falls in all their glory, but it’s fairly well blocked off. So, we decided to walk up a bit further on the trail to get above the falls, and I’m so glad we did! Above the falls (well above, mind you), there are some small chutes, natural swimming pools, and great places to do a few little cliff jumps if you’re daring. We all brought our swimsuits, and the boys really wanted to get in, but the water was C O L D. I ended up being the only one who actually got in – if you saw my instagram stories, you probably saw a pic of my jump!

We did, however, make our way down one of the crevices to sit on the rocky little “beach” through the narrower section of the pools, and we all sat together to have a little snack and enjoy the view. Then, yours truly decided to jump in because…when in Rome and all that. So, I did a quick deck change (there weren’t many people, so it was easy to change on the spot) and, after much fussing, jumped into the frigid water – twice! SO fun. I’m so glad I did it. If you’re in the PNW, and you’re up for a hike, here’s what you need to know:

Trail Length: About 3/4 a mile each way

Level of Difficulty: Easy – the path is gravel though, and it can get steep. I wouldn’t bring a stroller.

Cost – Free – display your Discover Pass in the windshield just in case

Parking – Free lot at the trail head

Bathrooms – There is one portable toilet at the trail head (I’d recommend bringing your own wipes)

Tips – Bring a towel & bathing suit if you’re adventurous

All in all, we spent about two and a half hours on the trail, blew nap time, and had an absolute blast as a family. If there’s one thing I’m grateful for here at Fort Lewis, it’s the opportunity to get out and explore. We can’t wait to see what adventures are next!

I’m linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.