Franklin Falls in the Winter (Full Review!)

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Kelly

Franklin Falls is one of the Seattle area’s most popular winter hikes! When we went in February, it felt like we were transported to a true winter wonderland. We played in giant snow drifts, counted hundreds of icicles clustered around the falls, and made lifelong memories. It was easily one of the most magical hikes of our lives, and years later, we still remember it as one of our favorite hikes of all time.

Getting to Franklin Falls is a little trickier in the winter due to road closures and tons of snow on the trail. In this post, we will share our step-by-step guide to hiking to Franklin Falls in the winter. Be prepared for a 7-8 mile hike using this route. Most of the trail is relatively flat, with about 500 feet of elevation gain total.

How to Hike to Franklin Falls

Before you even get to the trailhead, you’ll want to make sure that you are educated about the trail and make sure that you have the right gear.

Review Current Trail Conditions

First, you’ll want to educate yourself about current trail conditions. Be sure to check the latest Franklin Falls trip reports on the Washington Trails Association website. The trip reports are located at the end of the page, so scroll down. The trip reports will provide you with current information from other hikers about trail access and conditions. The trip reports will also likely tell you if the falls are currently frozen. Franklin Falls typically doesn’t have icicles all winter long, so if your goal is to see the falls with icicles, monitor the trip reports so you can plan the timing of your visit accordingly. Also make sure that you check current avalanche warnings for the area.  

Assess Traffic Conditions

Second, be sure to assess traffic conditions via the WSDOT website. Make sure that your vehicle is well-equipped and capable of handling winter conditions driving through the pass. Chains may be required. When we went to Franklin Falls, we exited the highway right before chains were required. We were able to get there without putting on chains.

Conditions, however, can change, so be sure to do your own research the actual day you plan on going. I’ve read recent trip reports, and there are folks that have reported days where there were whiteout conditions, icy roads, and pass closures. 

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Pack the Right Equipment

Third, make sure that you have the right equipment for a snow hike (e.g., microspikes; gaiters; appropriate clothing; etc). We used these microspikes. We’ve taken them on several winter hikes, and they’ve been great!

Wearing gaiters will help keep your legs and feet dry. Also be sure to pack the 10 Essentials any time you hike. Be sure to bring enough water so that you can stay hydrated, as well as snacks for fuel.

One of the most important things about winter hiking is to stay dry so that you can regulate your body temperature. Dress in layers. Be sure not to wear any cotton layers. Bring a day backpack so that you have somewhere to store the layers you aren’t using so that they will stay dry too. Educate yourself about hypothermia and make sure you are taking proper precautions. 

When we hiked to Franklin Falls, we found microspikes to be super helpful. Because it’s a popular hike, much of the snow was packed down. The final descent to the falls was also packed ice, so the microspikes were especially helpful for that portion of the hike.

Parking at Franklin Falls

One of the most important things to do is to make sure you’re parking legally. Because Franklin Falls is such a popular hike, parking is reviewed regularly. (There have been reports of tow trucks, so make sure you park in a designated space!) There aren’t too many legal places to park along the road near the trail access. If you are able to get one of those spots, have your Northwest Forest Pass ready. Most people park at the Asahel Curtis Sno-Park off of exit 47. Make sure you have a Sno-Park Pass. From there, you’ll need to hike a little bit extra along the road. 

Our Experience Hiking Franklin Falls During the Winter

When we visited Franklin Falls, we parked on the shoulder of the road and then started hiking down the closed portion of the snow-covered road. We walked along the road pictured below for about 2.5 miles. 

man walking along a snow trail

We crossed a bridge…

a bridge covered in snow

And when we saw the outhouse, we took a left. We almost missed this part, so don’t go straight past the outhouse. Instead, take a left and cross in front of it…

outhouse covered in snow

A short distance on the right we saw the entrance to the Franklin Falls trailhead. It will be on the right side of this road, so look for the sign so you don’t miss it!

Franklin Falls sign post at the trailhead

From the trailhead entrance, it’s approximately one mile to the falls.

frozen stream

There is a viewing point of Franklin Falls from the trail, but there is also a narrow path carved next to a rock face that you can walk down to get closer to the falls. When we went, there was some rope to help people safely maneuver down to the falls. Be careful as the rocks are slippery. This is where wearing microspikes was especially helpful.

Once you arrive, enjoy Franklin Falls in all its glory!

There will likely be a lot of mist and spray as you approach the falls. Do your best to stay dry, because you will still need to stay warm during your hike back. (Remember, when hiking during the winter, it’s really important to regulate your body temperature. It might be helpful to bring another dry layer just in case.)

Also be cautious and do not approach approach the falls too closely. The icicles can fall.

This was truly one of the most magical hikes. There’s a reason why it’s so popular!

Franklin Falls covered in ice

About Franklin Falls

Franklin Falls is on the ancestral lands of the Snoqualmie Tribe. Be respectful of these lands and minimize your impact on the trail.

Franklin Falls is comprised of three separate tiers and is approximately 135 feet high. From the trail, however, you’re only able to see the last drop which is about 70 feet high. Although Franklin Falls is spectacular in the winter when it’s frozen over, you can see its peak flow from April through July. When you visit in the winter, you may even see people ice-climbing the falls!

Be sure to also see our hiking guide to Colchuck Lake. (Another beautiful hike in Washington!)

Hiking Tips

  • Pack the right gear: Make sure that you bring multiple layers to dress in. We also recommend that you use microspikes so that you have adequate grip on the icy trail. Pack the 10 essentials for hiking safety.
  • Get your parking pass: Make sure you secure your parking pass in advance and only park in a designated area.
  • Review current trail conditions: Review previous trip reports to assess trail conditions ahead of time. Also be aware of current avalance conditions.
  • Make sure you have enough daylight: Daylight hours are more limited during the winter. Give yourself extra time, just in case, so that you can return to your vehicle safely before sunset. 
  • Remove valuables from your vehicle: Unfortunately, break-ins can happen. Make sure you have your valuables with you.
  • Let someone know your plans: It’s always a good idea to let someone know your hiking plans. 
  • Leave no trace: Please hike responsibly and follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Do not litter, stack rocks, or walk off the trail. Protect the habitat by sticking to the trail and packing out anything that you take in. Basically, leave the wilderness as you found it without leaving any traces of your visit.

Nearby Hotels

If you want to get an early start on your hike and beat the crowds, it can be helpful to stay the night before somewhere near the hike. That way, you can wake up early and just have a short drive to the trailhead. Here’s some suggestions for places to stay near Franklin Falls:

  • Edgewick Inn: This inn has 42 rooms and is located in the nearby town of North Bend. 
  • North Bend Downtown Cottage: This charming cottage is a cozy place to stay before heading to the mountains. 
  • Salish Lodge: Located adjacent to the majestic Snoqualmie Falls, this lodge is a luxurious place to stay.


We were so glad we chose to hike to Franklin Falls during the winter. There was so much snow on the ground and it was truly a magical experience. We hope this post about hiking Franklin Falls during the winter was helpful. Be safe and have fun!

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Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!