On May 24th, 2019, Skip, Bandit, and I packed up the jeep and headed to Lewis Falls in Washington. First stop, picking up our best friends Steven and Sierra about halfway through our seven-hour drive from Idaho.
We stayed two nights boon-docking (Camping in non-designated camp spots). We found the perfect site down in a valley that was open for Bandit to fetch with the most prominent branches he could find, and it already had a giant fire pit established. Click HEREto reserve your next campsite.
The first evening we were there, it started to storm, so we took off in the jeep and explored the area. Once we got back, we decided to impress the campsite and put some tarps together to keep the fire going while staying dry. Apparently, we did not look at the weather before planning this trip.
The following morning the storm settled, so we decided it was the perfect time to go on the hike from Lower Lewis Falls to Upper Lewis Falls. It was May which meant it was super wet and cold, so swimming was out of the question.
If you make this trip in the summer, swimming below the falls is a must, and you may also enjoy fishing (make sure you have a Washington fishing license beforehand), horse backing riding, bike riding, and of course, bird watching.
We learned early on to always drop a pin on maps of the trailhead before leaving the house if we lose service or if the location of the trailhead is inaccurate on maps (Which is how we learned the hard way).
Directions coming from both sides.
From Woodland, WA, follow SR 503 and the Lewis River Road for about 48 miles to Cougar, WA. From Cougar, continue east on the Lewis River Road, which will turn into Forest Road 90 after entering the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. In about 18.5 miles, you will come to the junction of Forest Road 25. Turn right and remain on FR90 for another 4.1 miles, and you will pass the intersection to Curly Creek Road. Continue on FR90 for another 9.9 miles, and you will come to the main campground for the Lower Lewis River Falls. Turn into the campground area and follow signs to the parking area for hikers. To view the two other significant falls on the Lewis River in this area, just continue east on FR90 and watch for the signs that direct you to the parking and trails for each.
From Carson, WA, if you plan to approach this hike from the Columbia River Gorge area, begin at Carson, Washington, and head northwest on the Wind River Hwy. In 7.5 miles, you will pass through the tiny community of Stabler, and in another 5.8 miles, you will come to the junction of Forest Road 30. Turn right onto FR30 and follow this road for 13.2 miles north along the Wind River and then up a steep incline and onto a plateau where you will come to the junction of the Curly Creek Road. Turn left onto the Curly Creek Road and follow it downhill past an excellent view area for about 5.1 miles until you come to Forest Road 90. Turn right onto FR90 and follow this road for about 10 miles, and you will come to a campground at the Lower Lewis River Falls area. Turn into the camp area and follow the signs to trail parking.
The trail from Lower to Upper Lewis Falls is a round trip of 8.6 miles and an elevation gain of 300 feet, all on a dirt path and marked very well the entire way.
We started at the bottom, Curly Creek Trailhead, which is a day-use-only parking lot. Walking along, we noticed each campground had an entrance to get on the trail, which meant there were a handful of restrooms that were accessible, not just the one at the trailhead.
There are three Falls you can stop at and enjoy, Lower, Middle and Upper. Each of them was significantly different and had its own uniqueness.
The Lower Falls is 43 feet high and 200 feet across.
The Middle Falls is 32 feet tall, but you must make your way through some brush to see it.
The Upper Falls is 58 feet high and 175 feet wide.
I can be aggressive when hiking and trying to get the best photo on the trail. At the time, I was in my second trimester of pregnancy. Towards the end of the hike, my husband was on his last nerve with me. Because of constantly veering off the trail, and almost falling off a cliff into the waterfall.
We enjoyed lunch at the Upper Lewis Falls and decided to head back on the main road because it was starting to rain. The road back shorter and less strenuous on my pregnant body.
Overall, this was a fantastic experience, and even in the rain, the waterfalls were absolutely stunning. We highly recommend hiking to all three waterfalls.