Marymere Falls. Temperate rain forest waterfall near Lake Crescent west of Port Angeles. Here is our description of the Falls, and photos of this impressive, no-fee Olympic National Park attraction.
The waterfall is part of a cluster of destinations and attractions. all within one-half to one hour west of Port Angeles, WA.
Pictured: This is one of the first glimpses of the waterfall. Clicking on this or any of the photos on this page will open a gallery of full-size pictures.
Marymere Falls is spectacular enough to warrant a visit in its own right. You'll be glad you did.
Port Angeles is just 21 miles (33.8 km) from Marymere Falls. But, if Port Angeles is not your starting point, then:
On a Saturday morning in late December, the hub and I hit the road. The lovely morning begged for an outing, and by “lovely,” I mean partly cloudy with threats of occasional showers in the forecast. A dusting of snow added magic to the idea.
No problem! So we headed out to Lake Crescent and the Marymere trail. In 35 minutes, the drive brought us from Port Angeles to the trailhead near the shore of Lake Crescent.
We took the turnoff for the Lake Crescent Lodge area near Hwy 101 mile marker 227658, and then followed the signs to Marymere Falls. This took us to a parking lot alongside the Storm King Ranger Station, an old, refurbished log cottage.
The trailhead is clearly marked. It passes to the south under Highway 101 before burying itself in the delightful depths of the rain forest.
The hike to the Falls can be described as a stroll in the rainforest for nearly all of the hike. It was only at the last few hundred feet that the trail began to climb. Even so, by the time we thought we might start getting winded, the Falls were already in sight.
It was inspiring, refreshing, surreal and serene! We could have sat at the foot of the falls and savored the scene and the roar of the falls for hours. It was a place to revel in, rest, contemplate, enjoy, marvel, relax.
Niagara Falls it was not, but it was still way more than I expected.
Barnes Creek thundered over the 119 foot precipice against rock and moss. A dead-fall tree trunk balanced precariously at the top of the falls, as if trying desperately to avoid dropping into the jumbled pile of tree bones below. This was Nature at its inexorable finest.
The falls were amazing, of course, but getting there and back was at least half the fun and inspired just as much awe.
A hike to the Falls will also not fail to amaze. You'll see typical temperate rain forest characteristics:
There's an advantage to visiting the rain forest in winter. Winter opens the view laying bare the mossy branches of maple and alder trees, and the heavy leaf litter adds a rusty counterpoint to the never-ending verdancy.
The rain forest can feel extremely dense. At certain points it seems to swallow the trail, and us, whole. Below Left: The Hub is deep in the maw of the forest.
Nevertheless, the trail is well maintained and well marked at the various forks in the trail.
There's a reason this attraction gets many visitors every year. It's very much worth the short hike!
Some of the trees around Marymere Falls are truly gigantic.
The greatest of the massive trees...
...soar impossibly high over the forest canopy.
Below Left: No one planted this row of trees. They sprouted atop a centuries-old fallen and decaying “nurse tree,” so called because in its rotting wood other trees root and grow.
The nurse tree provided the container, fertilizer, and potting soil for these trees, giving some species, such as Western Hemlock, a needed advantage.
There is no longer any evidence remaining of the nurse tree, except for the unnaturally straight line-up of this new generation of trees. Anomalies at the base of the trees might offer clues as to the original size of the nurse tree.
Below Right: Western Hemlocks like to take seed and sprout on nurse trees. An ancient stump is nourishing a Hemlock that is already many years old.
Above: The circular yet hollow living root ball bizarrely floats in mid-air at one end. The space circumscribed by the roots is large enough for a person to shelter in.
These are roots that were nourished by a nurse tree, which has long since rotted away, leaving nothing but the hole.
Right: One must walk single file across this Barnes Creek bridge, assisted by guard rails.
The trail to the falls eventually meets up with, follows, and then crosses over Barnes Creek on a split-log bridge. Even with some of last year's leaves hanging brown on the bushes, the scenery is spectacular.
At this point, the trail switch-backs up the mountain (below). It is only another few hundred feet to the falls.
On your way up the switchback, you'll encounter the first waterfall of the hike - the much shorter Barnes Creek waterfall. This water has already fallen over the Marymere waterfall.
A few more switchbacks, and then...the first glimpse of Marymere Falls...!
I'm not sure how a waterfall can evoke such wonder, but the sight is tremendously rewarding.
Right: You may wish to sit awhile and soak in the grandeur of the forest and the falls.
If you linger too long however, you may get soaked from the waterfall mist ... or the rain. This is a rain forest, after all.
There are lots of attractions not too far from Marymere Falls. You'll find many ideas at the following pages:
Explore the options: boating, hiking (easy and strenuous), beautiful views, kayaking, swimming, fishing, eating, gift shop, resting, marveling, salmon spawning, hot springs, and more.
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