Hike to Racehorse Falls

Racehorse Falls

Multiple waterfalls at one location.Accessible during all seasons.Short hike to reach the falls.Great place to spend an afternoon.

Racehorse Creek is broken up into four distinct waterfalls that drop a total of 140ft through a relatively shallow gorge. The first two waterfalls are punchbowl-type falls that have deep holes at their bases. Immediately below the second waterfall, the creek descends rapidly before it arrives at the biggest drop. The creek plunges from below an undercut ledge which causes the water to fan out into an impressive veil on the slanted bedrock. There is a small pool about three-quarters of the way down the waterfall, and a much larger pool at the bottom that can be swam in. The basin below the falls exits through a large bedrock slab, within which is another small waterfall.

HOW TO REACH THE MIDDLE WATERFALL:

Reaching the middle waterfall is pretty sketchy. It was legitimately challenging for myself and a friend to reach the waterfall, and we are both decent climbers. Granted, we didn’t bring our climbing gear, but there was a rope line to help us descend. The rope line is placed on a steep slab with no knots, and the route has an overhanging cliff at the bottom. The slab is usually wet and slightly covered in moss, and it also has a side-sloping angle with a 30ft drop on the right. You have to green belay to reach the top of the rope line, and beyond there, the remainder of the descent is reliant on your grip strength and upper body strength. Upon reaching the bottom of the rope line, you have to lower yourself over the edge of a small cliff. This section of the rope actually has knots, but they are relatively useless. Great news! You made it to the bottom. Now all you have to do is scramble down the mossy slope to the base of the middle falls. The rocks surrounding the falls are absurdly slippery, so be careful about stepping anywhere that isn’t dry. Hope you are prepared to climb back up… The return climb is similar to climbing the rope in gym class, except without knots. Moral of the story: Be really careful, or better yet, bring climbing gear! If what I’ve said so far hasn’t deterred you, read on:

  • Walk up the canyon rim from the base of the main waterfall.
  • Keep an eye out for a trail on your right.
  • If you see a rope line, you are in the right spot.

DIRECTIONS:

  • From Bellingham: Head east on Highway 542
  • Continue another 2.3 miles east on Highway 542 after passing the junction for Highway-9
  • Turn right on Mosquito Lake Road.
  • In approximately one mile, turn left on North Fork Road.
  • Drive for 4.25 miles to the bridge over Racehorse Creek.
  • Drive another half mile to the top of the hill and park on the side of the road where the road bends to the left. (Note: There is not a pullout or marked parking area. If you park at the pullout, this means you have GONE TOO FAR.)
  • Find the unmarked but obvious trail. It will be on the right side of the road.
  • Follow this trail for less than a half mile. You will be able to hear the waterfall to your right as you get closer.
  • Keep an eye out for a path on the right that leads down to the falls. This path leads down a steep hillside to the base of the falls. The path to the bottom of the falls is can be slippery when it’s wet, so please be careful when climbing down.

Latitude 48.87885 NLongitude -122.12518 W

Pack List

  • Hiking/Athletic Shoes
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
  • Water
  • Food (Optional: Beer)
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Activities Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Groups
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Hike, yes. Rapell, no.

The waterfall is definitely gorgeous and worth every bit of effort to get to it. The route to the middle falls mentioned on this page is frankly idiotic. I am an experienced climber and went with climbing gear. The pre set ropes going down bolstered by confidence that it was no big deal. It is. You can’t tell from above, but the bottom is a slippery overhang. There is a real possibility that someone, even a strong and experienced climber, could get really f-ed over here. There is no walk- up. Further, the view isn’t even that good. I highly discourage anyone from attempting to get to the middle falls. Go risk yourself on something with a higher reward!

Awesome if you are willing to get dirty!

One this is that we drove ALL THE WAY up the mountain. Like 4 miles up. Don't do that. When the road turns to gravel, just keep going until you reach a bridge. If you go on the bridge, you have gone too far. Then, turn right at the big open space before the bridge and go about a half mile up. The trailhead is really hard to miss so be careful, it is on the left(not like the post says). Also, be aware of bears. Make loud noises! Ran into a few here! Just stick to the creek and you'll be fine. Lots of climbing across logs and getting lost, but just keep going! There is a log to cross the creek, and use that to reach the other side! It gets better than the original view I promise! Make your way up, and there are roots to hold onto at the very top. Beautiful views of the waterfall. Got pretty dirty and slipped a few times, but it was worth it! not far from the trailhead either, only about 15 minutes with getting lost about 200 times! Do not be deterred by the unmarked trail! just stick to the creek and you'll be fine

Definitely not for beginners. Tried to do this hike with my kids and couldn't actually get to the water without putting them in danger. Lots of steep edges too. Maybe great for 18+ but not for beginners or kids.


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