Waterfalls of Northeast Washington

by Harley & Abby McAllister

Everyone loves to see a beautiful waterfall, and there may be no better time that right now – spring runoff.  There are three waterfalls that are an easy drive from Colville, the farthest being just over an hour’s drive and the other two being twenty minutes or less. So, if you are suffering from a little cabin fever and want to get outside and breath some fresh air, a great option is to head toward Colville and check out some of these fun excursions that feature waterfalls.  The options reviewed here are accessible to most anyone because they are easily reached from the road with short walks. So, bring the kids or bring grandma and plan for a day of fun.

1. Douglas Falls Grange Park

This park offers camping, picnic areas, and a 1.5 mile round trip hike with a foot bridge and views of a pretty stunning waterfall along Mill Creek.  To get there from Colville, head east on highway 20 for 1.1 miles to Aladdin Road.  Go north on Aladdin Road for 2 miles until you come to Douglas Falls Road on your left, then follow that road for 3 miles until you reach the park.  From the parking lot you will cross a bridge over the creek that leads to the picnic area.  At this point start looking for signs to the Nature Loop Trail.  Follow this loop in a counter clockwise direction and stay left at the unmarked intersection of what is actually a deer trail.  Continue along the loop and you will cross a suspended foot bridge on the way back to where you began.  Being a state park, parking here does require a Discover Pass.

Sweet Creek Falls with the McAllister family.

2. Crystal Falls State Park

This waterfall is located within the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge and is easily accessed from the shoulder of Highway 20, also known as the Colville-Tiger Road forfthis portion.  If you are coming from Douglas Falls, simply return to Hwy 20 and head east.  From Colville it is 14.5 miles along this rural highway to the Crystal Falls Viewpoint Parking, which is marked and on the south side of the highway.  This waterfall can be viewed with just a short walk from the road as there is a network of trails leading to various viewpoints.  The waterfall itself is formed by the Little Pend Oreille river and cascades down the road in a stairstep fashion.  

3. Sweet Creek Falls

From Crystal Falls it is approximately 45 minutes of driving to reach Sweet Creek falls.  Continue east on Hwy 20 to the town of Tiger, where you turn north on Hwy 31 and travel 10.8 miles through the town of Ione and to the destination. The trailhead to the falls begins at a small highway rest area that is named after the creek.  There are actually two trail options here.  From the north end of the rest area the trail climbs upward to a series of viewpoints and eventually right to the top of the falls.  Alternately, at the south end of the rest area you can cross a wooden bridge over Sweet Creek and then turn right (upstream) along a trail that will take you to the base of the falls.  The trails are short enough that you can easily do both during your visit, and that’s just what my family did on a memorably day last fall when the flows were a little lower than springtime.  Now go out and make some memories of your own!

Harley & Abby McAllister are parents to eight rambunctious kids and love to spend time outdoors.  This has culminated in a series of guidebooks on family vacations to the National Parks titled “Adventuring with Kids.”  You can learn more about them and their books at www.nationalparkswithkids.com.

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