Taylor River Trail and Otter Falls 06-04-2023

View of Mount Garfield

View into the pools at the Martin Lake outlet.

It’s been a minute since I have been in the Mountains (more like a year actually). I’ve ended my hibernation and was ready to get out. I did a few short city walks and a short hike in the woods with Glenn the past week and thought we should start some proper hiking. Given I am not in mountaineering condition and Glenn lacks snow experience, we opted for a flat hike along the Taylor River starting from the Snowlalamie Lake trailhead – potential aspirations to reach Martin Lake and a stretch goal to reach Snoqualmie Lake. This is the first time in this area of the Middle Fork, and it also runs through many of the Home Court 100 Peaks on my list, including The Ark, Dog, Morpheus, Mile High, Garfield, Treen, and Flat Rock. This area is especially appealing as none of the peaks are visible from any road except the Middle Fork, and it’s exceptionally remote.

We hit the trail and quickly learned that we could have driven about another quarter of a mile to the Snoqualmie Trailhead parking lot. Right away, we crossed the Taylor River, the outlet of Snoqualmie Lake – the nomenclature makes complete sense – LOL.

Soon after crossing the river, Garfield Mountain came into view. Mount Garfield is one of the more difficult peaks to climb in the Alpine Lake Wilderness. It’s actually comprised of five major spires and a few lesser ones. All of them are technical and comprise a large alpine basin with many areas to explore. One measure of this mountain’s challenges are that there are only 29 recorded summits/attempts per PeakBagger. I know there are more, as there is a technical sport route, and not everyone uses PB to document their climbs.


The notch in the last two photos depicts a route used by some – it is known as the North or Northwest route. One challenge of this route is that the snow couloirs form a moat, making the transition from the snow to rock nearly impossible. Others often use the south route, which is also challenging. For now, I will enjoy Garfield on my maps and from other peaks I have listed.

The trail follows the Taylor River, crossing several streams, some of which have nice bridges. The trail was formed from a decommissioned forest service road and has a lot of rock which makes the feet sore after plodding many miles. I enjoy trails that follow rivers as you hear rushing water and views of many pooled formed by the water. I have always enjoyed the colors, the formation of river rock pools, and how the light plays with the water.

I had seen a feature called Otter Falls on the map. About 2/3rds into our journey, we found a short trail that led to the falls. It’s a beautiful fall cascading down a steep slabby slope of about 200 feet. It’s directly South of Morpheus, so I think a steep, tough bushwhack could take one up to the Home Court 100 peaks in that area.

Our goal now was to push to the fork in the trail between Snoqualmie Lake and Nodrum Lake. My goal was to get in 10 miles today, and this would make it 12. We agreed to turn around here as we got a late start as I slept in, and also, we were not in the mood for a steep trail, only to have to retrace all of our steps. Plus, we wanted to get a chicken sandwich at Popeyes in North Bend.

As we made our way to the junction, we crossed a couple more bridges with some nice waterfalls, including Big Creek Falls, shown here. I was able to see Treen Peak in between the trees. These peaks are well hidden, even from the trail. We reached the junction and took a short break for some snacks. Old signs were lying on the side of the trail – sad they are deteriorating, but I like coming across remnants of the past on the trails.

More trail shots.

I love how the sunlight filtered through the trees here and illuminated the moss.

Parting trail shots.

See you soon Taylor River! Popeyes closed at 4PM – No Popeyes! Boo!


As always, thanks for HikingWithHadland, IG @markhadland @hikingwiththehad

Leave a Reply