I don’t know about where you live, but lately, the PNW has been all rain, all the time. It’s been a rough spring and start to summer between quarantine and COVID to begin with, but adding in a very fickle spring/early summer has made it extra tedious and, well, less than stellar. This past weekend, however, we had one glorious day of no rain. It wasn’t warm, mind you, but with temperatures hovering in the low 60s and patches of sun between the clouds, we decided we’d better make the best of it! So, we headed two hours south of JBLM to spend the day hiking around Moulton Falls in Yacolt, Washington.
If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you know that I have no issue hiking in the rain. We actually explored Melmont Ghost Town last weekend in the rain, and it was a blast! This weekend, however, I think we all needed a little fresh air and sun, and hiking around Moulton Falls seemed like just the ticket. We left JBLM around 9 AM, and we made it to the busy trailhead around 11 AM, making for the perfect start time for our little jaunt in the woods. I’d done some reading in advance on my trusty Washington Trails Association (WTA) app, and it looked like there were a few possibilities for this hike/walk. I say either/or because there is a dedicated trail that follows the Lewis River, and there are actual hiking trails that extend the path into the tree cover and canopy, as well.
Because it’s been raining so much lately and because we’re still breaking the boys in, we decided to opt for the walk side of the trail, and we started our trek at the gorgeous footbridge and made our way along the river. The tree coverage was dense, and there were plenty of clouds, but it was a beautiful day with touches of sun filtering through the branches. We soaked up every second. All along the trail, which is pretty well graveled by the way, there are petite little waterfalls cascading down the rock faces alongside. Some have washed out, leading to little muddy rivulets along the trail but, for the most part, it’s a durable, well-traveled trail, and all of us enjoyed exploring and soaking up the scenery.
About two hours from JBLM, you drive into veritable farm country, escaping the city vibe and trading them for off-the-beaten path hikes, beautiful rivers, sprawling vineyards, and more. When I say it’s a breath of fresh air, I mean that in every sense of the word. Because the trail is so easy, the kids spent a good bit of it running, skipping, and jumping over the stones, taking peeks down at the roaring river below, and just admiring the little houses all along the far side of the river. Honestly, it was beautiful. The well-worn trail is about four miles down and back, but we turned around just a bit early because we’d hoped to do a picnic lunch, and the kids were getting hungry.
The only bummer about hiking around Moulton Falls is that when hiking, you tend to want a reward; whether that be a lake to dip in, waterfall to see, or more, you want a reward for your efforts. Well, your reward is really at the beginning because the footbridge and falls are at the trailhead. So…you’ve been forewarned! The picnic benches and tables are also towards the head of the trail, so we went just under four roundtrip and ended our venture with a picnic lunch along the river. And yes, it was worth it. If you’re ever in the area, here’s what you need to know about hiking around Moulton Falls:
Trail Length: This varies based on the trail(s) you choose, but the main trail is 4 miles roundtrip; you can choose a rigorous side trail that will lead you to a viewpoint higher up that adds a 1.5 mile diversion, but it is about 1,000 feet of climbing, and it’s almost always muddy!
Level of Difficulty: The main trail is spectacularly easy
Parking: Free & no pass required; parking is limited at the trailhead, but there are two very well-marked lots
Tips: Be prepared for mud, and pack a picnic lunch