Twin Falls is the type of hike you often see recommended when someone is searching for a kid-friendly trail, or have friends visiting who want to see a bit of Washington outdoors. I kept meaning to check it out when T was a bit younger, but never made it out. I’ve also heard it can be crowded on weekends, which can be less than ideal with a toddler who wants to frequently stop and inspect ferns. When this week’s weather forecast called for sun, the NW finally answered with blue skies. I figured there was no better time to try this hike than an early spring weekday.
There are three bathrooms and an electronic paystation in the ample parking area. The first section of trail has some interpretive signs and runs along the river, which is very high and fast with spring runoff at this time. Along the way, there are several small “waterfalls” by the trail, which delighted T. He was a bit skeptical about stepping in mud with his new shoes but quickly got over it after watching me stomp through the mud chanting “Mud! Mud! Mud!”
I think I finally got the perfect fit on my Lillebaby carrier today. I switched Si to the front infant carry position, with his legs out, which allowed me to tighten the shoulder straps and move the waist belt higher. I was worried about his feet and legs getting cold, but a pair of booties over his socks helped. Next time, I might try two layers of pants, or longer socks, as his calves were a bit chilly towards the end.
We ended up stopping to nurse pretty early, and T decided he wanted to be packed at that point, maybe half a mile in at the most. Once we got going again, we hit the first uphill section, which included a couple of switchbacks. I was glad to see the benches at the top, as I am still very out of shape. I keep reminding myself that getting out is the only way for it to get easier, but its still difficult mentally. Summer 2015 was the summer we started hiking in earnest, and I was in the best shape I’d ever been in. Now, I feel…well, like someone who spent the last nine-plus months being lazy and pregnant. I’m sure the Pop Tart cravings didn’t help (I regret nothing).
Anyways, here we caught the first glimpse of the main attraction: a tall waterfall that usually splits, but is currently a single powerful torrent. After catching my breath, we continued down the trail which drops down to the river. The trail is newly built as a slide maimed this section last year. A huge tree marks the bottom of the descent before the trail climbs back up towards the top of the falls.
Currently, there are some minor trail obstacles on the ascent, but nothing that should challenge anyone but the smallest of hikers. The trail splits with the choice to go down a loooooong series of stairs or continue on to the bridge over the falls. We went down the stairs (WTA cites 104 stairs) to a rather precarious and wet lookout. The spray from the falls quickly dampened us, and T was a little freaked out by the thundering falls and height, so we headed back up the stairs after taking some photos. I imagine this lookout gets very crowded on sunny weekends.
We continued up the trail, checking out the inside of a dead tree and having a little snack along the way. The large bridge that spans the river above the waterfall isn’t much further and offers a view of a second (third?) waterfall. We didn’t see benches, so we ate our sandwich on the way back to the first lookout. The way back seemed much quicker, and we took another nursing/snack break at the benches. We’ve found frequent snack breaks to be helpful in keeping T’s energy up, plus nursing before the baby is too fussy keeps stress levels down.
After our break, I tried to talk T into walking the last bit but he was seriously opposed. He refused to keep walking, looking like the saddest of sad clowns. Teaching perseverance is one thing, but, especially with toddlers, it shouldn’t be at the expense of fun (edit: it should be noted that at dinner tonight, I asked T if he had fun today and he said “No. Brr cold.” Can’t win ’em all, I guess). We loaded him back in the pack, and he was nodding off by the time we reached the bottom of the hill. I guess we ran too close to naptime, and I noticed his pants were wet (???). It was only another 10 minutes or so to the car, and he was completely asleep by then. We’re still very early in potty training, so he is in diapers, and his diaper leaked right about the time he went back in the pack. This is where my “bring ALL the things!” mentality that makes our 4runner resemble a hoarder’s closet comes in handy! I had extra pants for him, and he got changed and warmed up before heading home.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last couple years of hiking with little kids, its to bring extra clothes (for everyone!).
Twin Falls is a great trail for kids, and even if you only get to the first lookout, its worth the trip for hiking families. We clocked almost 3 miles in a whopping 2 hours. I’ll label this “hungry 6 week old plus wandering toddler” pace.
WTA Hiking Guide: Twin Falls