Cat in the Wild | Choose your own adventure at Denny Creek, WA

Hiking Denny Creek in October—beautiful fall colors!

Okay…so I did this hike twice. In one week. Can you tell I really like this trail?

The first time I did this trail was on October 17, for Girlfriend Collective‘s Hike & Hang. As you probably know if you read my blog, Girlfriend is one of my favorite slow fashion brands, and they’re located right here in Seattle! They had a open call for real life people to hang out with the team and model the clothes, and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go. More on that later.

The second time I did this trail was five days later. I just felt like I had to go back; I didn’t really get enough time to explore and soak up the scenery as much as I had wanted to the first time. And I have to say that the second time was even more beautiful and rewarding than the first, so there’s a vote in my book for hiking the same trails multiple times. Sometimes I feel like I always need to be doing something new that I forget it’s okay to just do the same old things that I truly enjoy doing.

I can already tell that Denny Creek is going to be a favorite of mine that I’ll revisit again, for its ridiculously sweet payoff to effort ratio and proximity to Seattle (only an hour’s drive).

Hiking Denny Creek

Dates hiked: October 17 & 21, 2018
Location: Snoqualmie/Snoqualmie Pass
 6 miles roundtrip
Elevation: Gain – 1345 ft; Highest point – 3642 ft
Type of hike: In-and-out, day hike; camping is allowed
Difficulty: Easy to moderate; great for beginners and kids
Best seasons: Summer for the waterslide, fall to avoid crowds and for the stunning colors. The creek may be difficult or impossible to cross in the winter and spring.
Go for: An easygoing, photogenic hike with plenty of vistas, a creek, many waterfalls, and a natural waterslide. A WATERSLIDE.

I like to think of Denny Creek trail as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” sort of journey. It’s a sweet trail that has several natural stopping points with gorgeous scenery and opportunities for exploring.

We reached the first stopping point after only about 30 minutes of hiking on relatively flat, soft ground with gentle inclines along a shady, forested area. The trail opened out to descend to the “waterslide,” a natural smooth, sloping rock formation over which the creek runs—in the summer, people do slide down it!

The Denny Creek waterslide!
The Denny Creek waterslide!

We ate lunch here and explored further upstream, where you can easily reach a small waterfall when the water is low in the fall. Crossing the creek to continue on the trail here may be difficult or impossible when the water is high in the winter and spring.

Exploring the waterfalls upstream from the waterslide at Denny Creek
Exploring the waterfalls upstream from the waterslide

To continue along the trail, we followed the “Main Trail” sign which led us up the side of a mountain carpeted with red and gold fall foliage. It’s because of these views that I think fall is an exceptional time to hike Denny Creek, although summer is the most popular time. This part was rockier and hiking boots are helpful to avoid spraining an ankle.

Gorgeous autumn colors along Denny Creek trail in October
Gorgeous autumn colors along the trail

Another 20-30 minutes of moderate incline with sweeping views of the valley and glimpses of Keekwulee Falls brought us to the top of the falls, the second stopping point. There’s a side path to the right of the trail that lets you out onto the rocky cliff over which the falls spill. Here is a great place to take a rest, climb over lots of rocks, delight in the odd, wonderful sensation of being at the top of a sheer cliff of tumbling water, and marvel at the views. 

A glimpse of Keekwulee Falls along Denny Creek trail
A glimpse of Keekwulee Falls along the trail

At the very top of Keekwulee Falls on Denny Creek trail
At the very top of Keekwulee Falls; this mini waterfall cascades over a lower cliff to form the falls

This was our final destination before turning back, making it a pretty easy/moderate hike of 6 miles, but you can continue further up the trail a bit to reach Snowshoe Falls, the third stopping point, or continue even further to reach Melakwa Lake, where you can camp.

The trail took us about 4 hours total to complete, with plenty of time for exploring the creek and falls. With it being only one hour from Seattle, it’s the perfect relaxing, yet moderately challenging, half-day excursion! I’m looking forward to returning in the summer and taking a go on that waterslide.

Taking a rest at the top of Keekwulee Falls on Denny Creek trail
Taking a rest at the top of Keekwulee Falls

Tips for hiking Denny Creek:

  • You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass. The rangers do check, as we got a notice for not having a pass and had to pay by mail (I forgot to buy a day pass ahead of time).
  • The road is well-maintained.
  • For the part of the hike going uphill to Keekwulee Falls, you may want hiking boots because it’s quite rocky.
  • Bring your camera because this hike is incredibly photogenic!

Which trails do you love to hike over and over again?

More info on the Denny Creek trail >>

What I’m wearing:

Top/bra: Girlfriend Collective Paloma bra in Toasted Apricot
Leggings: Girlfriend Collective high-rise compressive leggings in Toasted Apricot (review)
Hiking boots: Ahnu Montara III eVent in Chocolate Chip (these are the most fashionable hiking boots I have ever seen, and they’re lightweight and waterproof!)
Backpack: thrifted

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