The nice(r) weather of late has definitely left me itching for hikes in the mountains.  I usually go with ZipCar for daytrips or Enterprise for multi-day ventures; after all, cars are at their best when providing for the occasional personal trip to a far-flung place.  But Washington also has an impressive amount of rural transit, much of it imperiled by looming cuts.   So as the weather warms I’ll be starting an occasional STB series, highlighting trailheads and itineraries accessible by transit, usually Saturday dayhikes that one can do without missing any days at work.

Wallace Falls is an impressive 265-foot cascade just northeast of Gold Bar.  A well-trodden trail to the Middle Falls offers dense forest, steep switchbacks, and impressive views, yet it is short enough to do a daytrip from Seattle.  For the weekend warrior, Community Transit Route 271 offers hourly Saturday service from Everett to Gold Bar from 6am-8pm.  With an easy transfer at Everett Station, a Seattle daytripper has plenty of time to make a day of it.  A sample itinerary:

  • Take Sound Transit #510 from 4th & Union to Everett Station, 7:55a-8:36a ($3.00)
  • Transfer to Community Transit #271, 8:55a-10:19a (Free ORCA transfer)
  • Get off at Hwy 2 and 1st Ave, and walk 1.7 miles to the trailhead, following the road signs.
  • Walk another 1.7 miles through the woods to the falls.
  • Take Community Transit #271 6:48p-8:18p
  • Transfer to Sound Transit #510 8:28p-9:12p

For only $6 in transit fare (with ORCA), you get a two-seat ride, perhaps a greasy spoon brunch, a moderate 7-mile walking day, and you’re back in Seattle by 9:15pm.  What’s not to like?

32 Replies to “Transit Hikes: Wallace Falls”

  1. You kids with your reverse-commute, all-day express buses (plus the option of Sounder and Cascades if wanted) have it so easy!!

  2. Excellent idea! Looking forward to more itineraries in the future.

    This reminds me of an old Seattle Times story, maybe from 1983. A reporter talked to a teenager/early 20-something that took public transportation from Seattle to the Washington coast. Something like Metro to Federal Way, Pierce Transit to Fife then whatever transit to the coast. He described all the transfers he had to take and what time he had to make sure to leave the coast. Being a young teenager, new to the area back then, I thought that was the greatest thing because I could do it without having to ask my parents to drive me since I didn’t have a license yet.

    1. I saw that story or one more recently in the 90s. You go Seattle-Lakewood, Lakewood-Olympia, and Olympia-Aberdeen. Metro’s trip planner says 2 hours from Seattle to Olympia.

      The Olympia Express runs on weekends (at least until PT’s next budget cut) but the Trip Planner wouldn’t make me an itinerary for Saturday morning.

      Bonus: the Olympia Express accepts ORCA monthly passes of at least $90. (Bring your pass receipt for proof.)

      You can also take Amtrak to the Olympia station (which is outside of Olympia) and InterCity Transit #64 to Olympia (45 min trip, 30-60 min headways).

      1. What kind of stupid system do we have, that people with smart-cards have to carry bits of paper to prove their value?

      2. The public just isn’t ready for implant technology, yet.

        And just imagine all the fingertips that will get cut off by identity thieves.

      3. Bruce,
        It’s the type of system where the bus system doesn’t have the reader yet but used to take Puget Pass.

      4. I went on Olympia Express when I went down to Olympia (duh) last month. I just showed my youth pass Orca and the driver was ok with it :)\

        4:50AM MT 230, 5:27AM ST 550, 6:15AM Sounder, 7:12AM Olympia Express (which would not show up in trip planner, but I was able to make the connection)

    2. Back then (the early 80’s) I used to take the old Metro 357 from Northgate to Skykomish just to have lunch up in the mountains. As I recall, it ran on Wednesdays, so in the summer it was a nice excuse for a pre-driving highschooler to get up there.

      The family had a cabin up near Sunset/Eagle Falls, which was also doable if you went up for a week or if someone else could bring you back earlier; that was a 7-mile walk though after getting off the bus.

  3. I read this headline and thought there had been some positive action regarding Kevin Wallace and light-rail over in Bellevue ;) But waterfalls are nice too.

    1. I think Bellevue councilmembers have already had an usual share of injuries due to nature.

  4. I used to go Wallace Falls back in the mid-90s, nowadays its just to crowded for my liking. I really wish I could take transit all the way to Beckler River, sigh……

    The point of Zach’s post however, is wonderful. I have taken public transit from my place in Coupeville all the way to downtown Blaine, at a whopping cost of 3.75 each way.

    Only problem is time. Takes around a minimum of five to seven hours, seriously. But if one has it, like I did on those trips, its worth the experience alone.

    1. Trailways will drop you off at least in Skykomish. Maybe even at the Beckler River Rd.

  5. Thanks for this, Zach. Been out to Wallace Falls a couple-few times in the Zip Car and noticed the bus stops, but always forgot to look into it when we got back home.

  6. Thanks for this, Zach! More like it!

    Two busses I’d like to shout out: the 554 and the 209. Take the 554, get off at downtown Issaquah (the stop after the TC). Walk south past the high school and there’s a trailhead for Tiger Mountain there. Alternatively, on Saturdays, transfer at the TC to the 209 which will take you right to the West Tiger trailhead or the Snoqualmie Valley railroad trail which gets you close to the Little Si trailhead. The 271 also provides (crappy) service to Issaquah on Saturdays.

  7. Zach

    This is a great idea — promoting this kind of transit connectivity. I’ll be saving these for one of those days when I don’t know what to do.


  8. Transit trips I’ve taken:

    Lake Quinault to Seattle
    Seattle to Portland
    Seattle to Packwood
    Seattle to Okanogan County (okay – it was Trailways, but I bought the ticket from Amtrak)
    Seattle to Mount Vernon to Oak Harbor back to Seattle
    I’ve also done the above trip from Edmonds

    1. I’ve done Seattle to La Push (via WSF, Poulsbo, Port Townsend and Port Angeles) and v.v.
      (And other OP destinations in between, including the Coho Ferry to Victoria)
      Seattle to Aberdeen/Hoquim via Tacoma and Olympia.
      Seattle to Olympia via Bremerton (WSF), Belfair and Shelton.
      Seattle to Tacoma via Vashon/Talequah and Pt. Defiance (not tricky, but out-of-the-way fun!)

    2. I’ve done Seattle to Portland and Seattle to Vancouver. Both were a good time, although Vancouver required a couple miles of biking between the border and White Rock.
      To get to Packwood did you use the LEWIS (Lewis East-West Information Shuttle, worst backronym ever)? If so, how was it?

      1. Yes, but at the time they were also running from Spanaway to Mossyrock through Eatonville, Elbe and Mineral Lake. I transferred at Mossyrock to the eastbound bus.

      2. Is there any transit to Elbe or Eatonville now, in case I wanted to take the steam train or Northwest Trek?

  9. There are also some great opportunities to combine transit, hiking, and biking altogether. A sample few bike-hike combo’s I’ve done in the past:

    – 594 to Tacoma, bike to Point defiance, hike around Point Defiance, ferry to Vashon Island, Bike all the way across the island, ferry to West Seattle, bike to Alki, water taxi to downtown.

    – Bike to Mercer Island, 554 to Issaquah, bike to Tiger Mountain trailhead, hike up West Tiger 3 and back, bike to Redmond via East lake Sammamish, return to Seattle on the 545.

    – 554 to Issaquah, bike to North Bend (rest stop at Snoqualmie falls), hike up little si, bike back to Issaquah, 554 back to Seattle.

    1. Is there a bike rack at the Tiger Mtn trailhead (or something else that would take a U lock)? Or did you cable-lock it to a tree or the like?

    2. I’ve biked out to the Tiger trailhead and hiked up to the Tiger 3. It was pretty great, though on the way home I felt pretty pooped and hopped on a bus back to Seattle. Andreas — I locked my bike to a gate guarding a powerline road with a u-lock. It was on the east side of the main lot.

      I’ve also biked out to the Mt. Si trailhead and hiked to the top. That was even more exhausting. There was no chance I was going to ride back — the descent down Si killed my knee. So I hopped on the 209 back to Seattle.

      Next week I’m planning to explore the Coal Creek area as part of a bike ride. Been meaning to do that for a few months now.

      1. I forgot to add — the “Footsore” series by Harvey Manning is GREAT for planning bike trips like this. Even though the latest edition is two decades old, a lot of the information is still very valuable. Also, Harvey Manning is a great writer who adds a lot of fascinating historical, geological, and sociological information as well.

  10. I used Harvey Manning’s guides all the time when I first moved to this region some 20 years ago, remember well his ‘Metro 210’ trips. He’s dead now. There is a statue of him in downtown Issaquah, I went there for the dedication a few years ago.

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