Trail of the Week: Denny Creek Trail to Keekwulee Falls

Keekwulee Falls swimming hole

A hike on Denny Creek Trail near Snoqualmie Pass yields several waterfalls and interesting options for swimming.
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A hike on Denny Creek Trail near Snoqualmie Pass yields several waterfalls and interesting options for swimming.

Denny Creek Trail to Keekwulee Falls

Hike description: An emerald pool on a broad shelf on Keekwulee Falls is as enticing as it is cold.

On a recent hike to this scenic spot along Denny Creek near Snoqualmie Pass, children and a few adults took turns playing in the pool just deep enough for feet-first jumping. Some leaped, some used the wet rock like a slide, and one did a back flip. All exited shivering.

This spot, available when the water levels are just right, is just one of the reasons Denny Creek is a popular destination for families. From the campground near the trailhead, to the creek’s natural waterslide area about 1.5 miles up the trail, to impressive views higher up the route, the trail has something for just about everybody.

The trail climbs but isn’t particularly steep. It should also be noted that the path is rough in many areas despite considerable work by volunteer trail crews in recent years. Sturdy hiking shoes will serve you best.

While Denny Creek presents places to play in the water, visitors should be aware of potential hazards. Rocks are slippery and unstable. During a recent visit, we saw a dog injured after slipping on the rocks. The water levels change, and visitors must determine if it is safe and take precautions to care for their party.

While the trail can be crowded as it crosses under Interstate 90 and into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the crowds tend to thin dramatically after crossing the creek. Keekwulee Falls is about 1 mile farther.

Directions: From Interstate 90, take Exit 47 and turn north and cross over the interstate. Turn right on Forest Road 9034, then left on Forest Road 5800 following the signs to Denny Creek Campground. Just after the campground, turn left on Forest Road 5830 and continue to the trailhead, but you may need to look elsewhere for parking on busy days.

Difficulty rating: 3 (5 is most difficult, 1 is easiest).

Miles round trip: 5.

Elevation gain: 1,000 feet.

Best time of the year: The trail is used year round, drawing snowshoers in snowy months.

Map: Green Trails 207S: Snoqualmie Pass.

Pass: Northwest Forest Pass.

Also: The trail continues beyond Keekwulee Falls over Hemlock Pass to Melakwa Lake. An overflow parking area is located just past Forest Road 5830. There are pit-toilet facilities at the trailhead. Dogs are permitted, but must be on leashes and cleaned up after. There are geocaches hidden along the trail. For more information, visit geocaching.com. Franklin Falls, a 2-mile hike, also is located in the area.

Info: fs.usda.gov/mbs.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497