Washington

Teneriffe Falls (the hike, not the Spanish island)

Peter and I kicked off last weekend – a holiday weekend in the US – by welcoming Tessa and her significant other to Seattle. The weekend was a multi-adventure trip including hiking, biking and drinking a lot of wine in Walla Walla Washington.

Friday morning was the hiking segment of the trip so we got up early and packed the car for the long weekend. Peter and I recently purchased a bike rack for the car so that we could easily transport our bikes to Walla Walla (versus deconstructing them and packing them into the car). I thought we’d have so much room in the car without the bikes but the trunk was stuffed by the time we were done loading the car. I wondered how we were going to get any wine home aside from 12 bottles we’d fill into the empty placeholder box in the trunk.

We departed Seattle at 7:15am and I was afraid that the trailhead parking lot was going to be full by the time we arrived 30 minutes later. The worst thing about hiking is having to get up very early in order to get to the trailhead and secure a parking spot.

To my surprise, the parking lot was newly paved with upgraded facilities and there was only one other car in the lot! The trailhead at Teneriffe Falls is the nicest trailhead I’ve come across.

The temperature at the trailhead was in the low 50’s and it got colder as we ascended. We were very cold by the time we reached the waterfall roughly 2.5 miles later. This is the first hike I’ve gone on when I’ve been freezing cold at the top.

The trail starts off with a gradual incline and then all hell breaks loose with 22 switchbacks.

I can handle inclines and switchbacks just fine but what I cannot handle is rocky trails. They just suck. The last three-quarters of a mile of this hike was very rocky. Not only was this hike the coldest hike I’ve done but it was also the rockiest.

We reached the waterfall after one hour and 45 minutes of leisurely hiking. The pictures do not do the waterfall justice because it’s a very high waterfall and it can’t easily be captured in a mobile phone photograph. Perhaps on a warmer day I’ll tackle the summit of this hike which, as I understand, is another steep mile from the waterfall.

 

The waterfall was flowing at a good pace and the mist/spray was freezing which caused the temperature to drop further. It was nice to enjoy the waterfall by ourselves for a few minutes because the landing (optimal place to take photos) is very small. The waterfall is only active in the spring and early summer when the snow is melting. By the middle of summer, the waterfall is dry.

We planned to eat our sandwiches at the waterfall but we were pushed out when other hikers arrived about five minutes after we’d arrived. This is another unique thing about this hike – there’s no room to rest once you reach the waterfall which makes it a slightly undesirable hike, among other reasons.

I took a photo of the hikers using their iPhone 3 (I do not know what iteration it was but it was a tiny brick) and then we started to hike back down the mountain, unsure of where we would eat lunch.

Not too far down from the waterfall landing is a retaining wall/bench that could easily accommodate our group so we sat, opened our sandwiches and began to freeze. The temperature was too cold, even after layering up, and we agreed to stop eating and hike back to the car whilst we still had some feeling in our fingers and toes.

The roundtrip hike time was just over three hours which included our “lunch” and climbing around the waterfall to take photos.

Protips for this hike are:

  • Avoid bringing dogs because they can easily injure themselves on the rocks and the trail is narrow which makes navigating around dogs on leashes difficult
  • Do not do this hike as your very first hike in your lifetime
  • Hiking poles are highly recommended
  • Bring warm clothes
  • Do not expect to rest or even have a quick bite to eat once you reach the waterfall
  • Do this hike in spring or early summer when the waterfall is active
  • Avoid this hike if you have ankle or knee issues (rocks)

2 comments on “Teneriffe Falls (the hike, not the Spanish island)

  1. Awesome waterfall!

  2. Sweet little day trip!

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