Little Mashel Falls Trail is a 5.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Eatonville, WA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
NOTE: DO NOT try to access the falls from the Alder Cutoff - people die each year slipping on rocks from trails on that side. The recommended way to see the falls is by entering from Highway 7. Follow the yellow diamonds on the trees, and there are 2 brown signs (1 for lower and 1 pointing up the trail for the upper). Muddy areas, due to recent rains, can make this trail slippery at times, so beware and be careful at all times. The trail takes you through a set of three waterfalls. Two are medium sized and the third is very large. About 125 ft drop. Access is a little tricky but well worth it. DO NOT bring children or adults that are not in good physical condition to the third waterfall. The name of this waterfall should not be construed as a descriptive in any way, shape or form. The little in the name stems from the river, and is actually quite the opposite of the waterfall itself. The largest of the three major waterfalls in the gorge, the Little Mashel River drops over a small punchbowl before sliding down a smooth concave lip and veiling 125 feet into a pile of large boulders in the gorge below. If you are fortunate enough to visit the falls in the spring when the river it at it's peak, you'll encounter a spectacular wall of water and spray. In the late summer, the falls become much more placid and tame, and actually provide an opportunity to walk behind the falling water. All three waterfalls along the river here are popular locations for the locals to come and hang around and the level of trash in the area reflects this.
Little Mashel Waterfall hike, Eatonville, WA
Anyone who does or wants to start hiking
I highly recommend this hike. Eatonville is about an hour away from Olympia heading East. The Little Mashel Hike is accessible from March until October and is only 5.3 miles long roundtrip, and it takes about 3.5 hours to hike there and back, this is including the time to stop so you can enjoy the scenery and to eat lunch. The hike is not a loop so you walk the same trail there and back. You gain 500 ft. as you hike, and the highest point is at 1100 ft. This information is based on the route accessing the Bud Blanchard Trail just off Lynch Creek Road in Eatonville. There are a couple different ways to access these falls. But I have only gone to one entrance. You can find information on both trails at http://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/nws/falls.php?num=4990
If you have kids from age 1-6 I do not recommend bringing them do to the conditions of the trail. You must climb down and up rocks to get to your destination, if you do go after it has rained be sure to watch for slippery spots on the rocks so you do not fall. The trail conditions vary as you walk, at first you are walking on a wide gravel road, then you cross over a wood timber bridge about 1.5 miles into your hike, (you have an option to climb down the sides of the bridge down the rocks to go up to the river if you want to) after that you will see a dirt trail on your right, and from that point on you can follow the trail signs continuing uphill. It is very doable for anyone looking to enjoy a pretty view
I recommend to bring your own lunch because there is nowhere to eat around the area. I didn’t get the chance to explore Eatonville, so as far as other things to do around the hiking area I am not 100% sure. Little Mashel Falls is very beautiful, as you hike there are 3 different waterfalls to stop and gaze at, they go from small - big, I recommend to go during the fall because all of the trees around you are different and full of colors, It is pretty chilly during this time so I recommend wearing long pants, sneakers, and a jacket. I did not see any animals around while I was hiking but there are bear warning signs. If you go on this hike in the late summer, the falls become much more placid and tame, and provides an opportunity to walk behind the falling water. Dog are the only animal allowed on the trail if they are on a leash but there are no dog bags to clean up after them. There are no bathrooms along the trail, and there are no trash cans. You can find directions on google maps by the link below.
Lower, middle, and upper falls are the treasures tucked away in this hike. You an start at the top or by the river at the bottom where the official parking lot is. Moderate to easy, but very slippery and can be dangerous. Not very kid friendly. Stay sharp and enjoy the scenery!
very pretty & serene falls, challenging to get down to the falls area but also worth it, there is a metal cable to help(recommend gloves if you use) & some rope to assist the decline down & assist on getting back up. The rest of the hike is very do-able & you can see the falls without going down the really steep part
The walk to the TH was a lark. The rocks on the trail are slippery (dry day in the 70's). But worth the view.
Trail itself was lame, but the falls were nice.
The trail is nice and the waterfall is beautiful but watch out for the metal wire to help you get down to the falls, there are some frayed parts that are very sharp.
Large portion of the hike was on a gravel road. Once off the road it gets a little steep down to the lower falls. We heard there was an underground hive at upper falls, so we skipped that part. It was beautiful and I am sure we will do it again!
went back in July, it made for a nice day adventure. hit one little patch of swampy area, other than that it was great.
A nice hike through the forest to several waterfalls. The beginning was not as enjoyable being on basically a gravel forest service road. Once you turn off of the fs road, it becomes a real hike. We went to the lower falls, upper falls and then walked over the train tressel and then back. There was some garbage here and there, but we always take out more than we take in.
Beautiful scenery! Really a shame to see the garbage and littering along the trail and in the water. Please clean up after yourselves so others can enjoy the hike for years to come.
We went on the weekend. Lots of folks were there. There were lots of folks at the falls/ no privacy. As usual, our dog did well - lots of dogs. Did not really enjoy the long walk on the gravel road (can do that anywhere). There are other routs to get to the falls and I would take them next time (if we went again). Since the trails are not well marked, this would be a good one to practice creating routes and following them on your hiking GPS, geocaching.
We entered via the UW Pack Forest and walked to the lower falls. The trail after you turn off the gravel road was dry with only a few minor muddy spots. If you are reasonably stable on your feet, it wasn't too hard to get down, though we didn't go down the cable to the water...I'm 30 weeks pregnant and decided to play it safe rather than go down the steep hill. Nice water fall.
Beautiful falls, definitely worth dealing with the rocky road leading to the actual trail to the falls.
Fun walk for the family