Hike to Sholes Creek Falls

Washington Sholes Creek Falls Trail

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Year Round

Forest
River
Waterfall

Two-tiered waterfall - 62ft and 103ft. Challenging to access. Incredible views on the bike/drive to the falls. Secluded location with no crowds. Accessible by bike (Dec. 1st – July 1st). Partially accessible by car (July 1st – Nov. 31st).

Sholes Creek Falls is not easy to reach, but it is entirely worth the journey. The creek plunges over a two-tiered drop in stages of 62 and 103 feet into a massive amphitheater, which flows into Bar Creek. The waterfall is framed by massive columns of volcanic rock that dwarf the falls, in comparison. The upper tier of the waterfall is only visible from the canyon rim above; the view is still partially obstructed by vegetation, however, making it difficult to photograph.

The waterfall is difficult to access, requiring a bushwhack along the canyon rim, followed by a steep and dangerous scramble down into the canyon. Descending into the canyon without the aid of a rope is not advised-- severe injury (or worse) is likely, depending on where you slip.

Directions:

  • From Bellingham: Head east on Highway 542.
  • Continue past the Glacier Ranger Station for 7 miles.
  • Turn right onto Wells Creek Road #33. This road is also signed for Nooksack Falls.
  • Follow Wells Creek Road for 6 miles and park near the bridge that crosses Bar Creek.
  • Enter the vegetation before the bridge on your left-hand side. (You might see tattered orange flagging tape)
  • Faints signs of a trail exist... Follow the trail into the forest while keeping Bar Creek to your right.
  • After 500ft, turn left and head uphill into the forest. If you get confused, keep an eye out for flagging tape.
  • Sholes Creek will now be on your right. Remain on this route until reaching the rim of Sholes Creek Canyon.
  • STAY HIGH, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DESCEND EARLY.
  • [See picture] The proper spot to descend to the base of the falls is right at the base of the cliff band that forms the falls. If you descend any sooner, you will end up in a very sketchy position involving cliffs and a steep and loamy traverse.
  • Everything until this point is relatively easy, however the last stretch to the falls is very steep and dangerous. Please don't attempt unless you are fully prepared for the potential consequences.

Latitude: 48.85417 NLongitude: -121.77285 W

Pack List

Dec. 1st to July 1st (Road Closed):

  • Bicycle… or hiking boots if you choose to walk
  • Climbing equipment (Recommended)
  • Waterproof jacket and pants (For standing near the waterfall)
  • Sack lunch, Clif Bars
  • 10 Essentials
  • Camera and tripod
  • Waders, booties, or water shoes to cross the stream (Optional)
  • Topographic map (Optional)

July 1st to Nov. 31st (Road Open):

  • Waterproof jacket and pants (For standing near the waterfall)
  • 10 Essentials
  • Camera and tripod
  • Sack lunch
  • Waders, booties, or water shoes to cross the stream (Optional)
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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This was extreme. Gate was closed just after Nooksack Falls, so get ready for a 5.4 mile hike to get to the parking area for Sholes Creek. There is a large section of road that has fallen into the creekbed below making it impassable for cars. The bridge crossing just below Sholes Creek Falls has a section washed out. The bushwhacking is a little intense. We had to attempt several different ways due to "trail" really being non-existent. Best way we found, was to stay a little ways to the left off the cliff, and once to the top start down. BE VERY CAREFUL, this was crazy steep and loose. Making the wrong move could cause a slide and you would not be in a good place if that happened, it's extremely steep. Once you work your way down, there are a couple places to stop and set up. It was a downpour while we were there, so I only set up in one, as we didn't want a slide. Next time I'll be bringing ropes to get to the bottom. This is not a hike for animals or kids. Also, if you attempt to work your way up from the bottom, you can't make it to the falls. You'll encounter a section after a few log dams that the water is too heavy and the walls are vertical rock. I would not advise trying to pass this. If you find other ways, please add to this. I would like to go back for another couple angles, but this is definitely an epic waterfall.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Wells Creek road can be gated just past Nooksack Falls, Usually it opens up late summer.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Stephen Bellrichard

Outdoors > Indoors. Enjoys photography, skiing, and exploring of all kinds.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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