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Boulder River Trail

North Cascades, Washington

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Boulder River Trail

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  • Raindrops on a maidenhair fern (Adiantum).- Boulder River Trail
  • The early section of the trail is an old logging route.- Boulder River Trail
  • New growth nursing off of an old stump.- Boulder River Trail
  • A camping area that is early on the Boulder River Trail.- Boulder River Trail
  • Boulder River Trail.- Boulder River Trail
  • Feature Show Falls is the first falls you'll encounter on the hike.- Boulder River Trail
  • Feature Show Falls cascades 259 feet from the cliff above the Boulder River.- Boulder River Trail
  • The twin streams of Feature Show Falls.- Boulder River Trail
  • The trail proceeds through a healthy and protected Boulder River Wilderness.- Boulder River Trail
  • The second falls along the trail are unnamed.- Boulder River Trail
  • The Boulder River runs a chalky blue with snowmelt in the spring.- Boulder River Trail
  • The Boulder River Trail winds through a dense section of maidenhair fern.- Boulder River Trail
  • Unidentified fungus (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Boulder River Trail
  • Old-growth forest on the Boulder River Trail.- Boulder River Trail
  • The flats at the end of the trail are a great overnight option.- Boulder River Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Easy grade. Beautiful river. Waterfalls. Overnight potential.
Cons: 
Crowds. Few views in the second half of the hike. Anticlimactic turn-around point.
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Region:
North Cascades, WA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
400.00 ft (121.92 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
9.00 mi (14.48 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,040.00 ft (316.99 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

The Boulder River Trail is the most popular entry into the nearly 50,000-acre Boulder River Wilderness, and for good reason. This well-maintained trail is a great choice for hikers of all ability and age levels. The grade is slight throughout, and the scenery in this forest of old-growth Dogulas fir, hemlock, and western redcedar is lush and rewarding. You'll have the chance to see several waterfalls, and the first is just over a mile into the hike.

You'll begin the hike on what was once a logging route, and the path is wide and gently graded. The trail climbs a bit before side routes are visible to camping spots just outside of the wilderness boundary. Continue on to enter the Boulder River Wilderness and listen for the sound of the first falls. Feature Show Falls is a beautiful set of twin streams that cascade 259 feet down into the Boulder River. Not to be confused with Boulder Falls a few miles downstream, Feature Show Falls is much more picturesque and popular, and for many it is the destination for the day.

It won't be the last waterfall, however, so press on for more from this gorgeous, protected forest. The trail climbs slightly and dives into the understory of maiden hair and deer fern, devil's club, bunchberry, and more. Sections of the trail are rooted and rocky, but the going is generally smooth. You'll see the second waterfall, unnamed, streaming down in a series of drops about a half-mile beyond Feature Show Falls. While no feature, this falls is certainly worth the extra effort if you are not out for the longer trip.

If you do proceed from this second waterfall, note that the trail becomes a little more rough. Sections are muddy, rooted, and there are some stream crossings. The trail is still a great trek if you are heading toward the clearing at the end. This is a great spot to camp if you are out for a brief overnight trip. Please remember that any cat holes should be dug 200 feet from the trail and any water, and practice Leave No Trace principles for the next visitor.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(8 within a 30 mile radius)

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(32 within a 30 mile radius)

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