Olallie State Park and Palouse to Cascades Trail

Less than an hour east of Seattle, there is a place where adrenaline-pumped rock climbers and mountain bikers play in harmony with amblers, anglers and equestrians out for a ride. That place is Olallie State Park.

Mellow out

Renowned for its glorious waterfalls, Olallie is the place to kick off the spring hiking season, bid the trails adieu in the fall and bust out the raingear (or snowshoes) in winter.

Moderate trails lead past mossy rocks and fern understory under a dense forest canopy. Your destination? Dramatic Twin Falls, smaller Weeks Falls, and their many gossamer offshoots.

An interpretive trail off the South Fork picnic area tells the story of the Old Snoqualmie Road, the first road from Ellensburg to Seattle in the 19th Century, and the trail to Cedar Butte overlooks a 1918 landslide that buried the small town of Edgewick.

The park boasts more strenuous trails, including Dirty Harry’s Balcony, which rises 1,300 feet in 3 miles.

Fall color is spectacular here, and anglers report excellent trout fishing spots on the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Climb the walls

Four different cliff areas on both sides of the highway keep experienced rock climbers busy. Routes range from 5.5 to 5.13b in difficulty and include traditional climbs, pinnacles and cave-like overhangs.

Ride like the wind

Mountain bikers seeking backcountry thrills can ride the 8.5-mile Olallie Trail, which climbs more than 3,000 feet and provides stunning views of the Snoqualmie Valley.  

Go the distance

Olallie serves as an access point for the Palouse to Cascades long distance trail.

Heading east on this historic rail trail (part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad from 1908 to 1980), hikers, cyclists and horseback riders cross the Cascades into tunnels and over trestles, until the landscape gives way to the amber-hued farmlands of eastern Washington.

You can take this trail in one-day sections or as a multi-day trip. Lake Easton State Park, just off the trail near Easton and Wanapum Recreation Area, a few miles south of Vantage, have campgrounds and multi-day travelers can find primitive camping at Alice, Carter, Cold and Roaring Creek campsites.

The 2,329-acre Olallie State Park sits on the I-90 corridor close to Seattle, a city known for its well-mannered residents. Whether you’re flying by on your mountain bike, casting out for a fish, strolling to the nearest picnic table, or jamming your hand in a crack 50 feet off the ground, you are sure to find friendly and like-minded people enjoying this green space with you.

 

Park information, including trailhead locations:

http://parks.state.wa.us/555/Olallie

http://parks.state.wa.us/521/Palouse-to-Cascades