Editor’s note: Please remember to recreate responsibly by wearing a mask and socially distancing when you’re out and about.
Looking for a little-known spot to check off your summer bucket list? We’ve got a doozy of an idea for you and your crew, especially if water play and wilderness are your bag, baby. Check out Denny Creek trail waterslide, located about an hour east of Seattle. It’s a must-do beauty of a hike that ends at a natural rock slip-and-slide your kids will go gaga for. Read on for the Denny Creek deets!
Hit the Trail
The Denny Creek trail, situated between North Bend and Snoqualmie Pass, is a popular hike, full of lush old-growth beauty, creek crossings, bridges and that quintessential PNW foliage, while still being totally doable for the kiddos. The trail is nestled under oodles of coniferous trees with canopy shade a-plenty. It’s also about 3-feet wide, so there's plenty of room to bring the whole gang and Fido, too. This well-kept trail can be rather rooty and rocky in places, but it won’t be more than your mini hikers can handle.
Wander Towards the Waterslide
About a half-mile from the trailhead, there's a picturesque bridge that crosses over the Denny Creek waters and eventually goes right under the I-90 viaduct (cool!). From there, set your sights on the next delightfully scenic area, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a sure sign you’re getting closer. Then it's on to the piece de resistance, the natural waterslide.
Pro tip: Although this trail can be six miles round trip (Keekwulee Falls is about a mile further up the trail and hiking to Snowshoe Falls adds another half-mile), it's just a little over a mile from the trailhead to the waterslide—perfect for little legs!
Ride the Waves
Once you get to the waterslide, you will no doubt be super stunned by the beauty of this natural wonder. It truly is a gem and well worth the hike. The waterslide area is enclosed in the forest and the ginormous rocks you'll find there have formed natural chutes from the continuous running waterfall and creek. Kiddos can splash around and play in the water to their hearts' content or sit right in and push themselves through the slide to the waiting, shallow pools below. This rock area is also picture perfect for setting up a picnic, relaxing and soaking in the stunning scene while the kids bound off gleefully to ride the slick rockslide again and again.
Pro tip: Plan your Denny Creek excursion on a weekday morning when it's less crowded, if you're able. Or try a later afternoon visit and pack a picnic dinner so the kids are worn out just in time for bed.
The actual waterslide rock is flat-ish so you won’t have any worries about your tiny explorers being launched, Niagara-style. It is, however, a good idea to assess the water level and current when you get there. Since summer is drier (and the perfect time to go since the water temp can be pretty chilly), you will probably find a safe spot to cross over the waters to the slide/picnic area. There are also a couple of logs that people use to cross over to this side, but it may be a bit precarious for the teensiest of feet.
On that note, it's a great idea to bring along water shoes for extra traction while on the rocks and wading through the waters. They do get a bit slippy. And when you're all wiped out from a day of riding the slide and basking in the gorgeousness, don’t forget your towels. It is definitely cooler under the canopy on the way back.
Grab your GPS
Denny Creek Waterslide isn’t hard to find, nor is it too far from the city, making it an ideal summer day excursion. From Seattle, head east on I-90 to Exit 47 Denny Creek/Tinkham Road where you'll turn left and head back over the freeway. Next, turn right at the stop sign on Forest Road 58. The road goes back under the freeway; then turn left. Keep going straight for about 3 miles, past the Denny Creek campground, until you see the large paved parking area on the right.
Pro tip: If you see a sign at this lot for Franklin Falls parking, you're in the right place. The Denny Creek trailhead starts by the bulletin board. Move along down that way, cross the street you came in on, head past the bathrooms (hello, pitstop!) and the gate, go over the bridge and follow the signs towards Denny Creek as it veers off from Franklin Falls. Guess what? Now, you and your whole H2O-happy troop are on your way to a fun-filled summer adventure you won’t soon forget. It is bound to become a family fave!
What to bring
1. Be sure to pack masks, sunscreen, towels, full waterbottles and sturdy water shoes in your beach bag for the trip. It wouldn't hurt to throw a warm outer layer in there too, in case the kids get chilly on the shaded hike back to the car.
2. Add some extra food and snacks to keep the kids fueled, whether you're planning a picnic or just handing out snacks when the kids need them.
3. Stick five dollars to park or your Northwest Forest Pass in pocket to enjoy Denny Creek.
all photos courtesy of the writer