Coal Creek Falls – Exploring Washington’s Hidden Waterfalls

Nestled within Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, Coal Creek Falls is an easily accessible and family-friendly hike near Seattle. The trail offers a scenic and relatively easy hike to a picturesque waterfall, making it an ideal destination for hikers of all skill levels. In this article, we will discuss the waterfall, how to get there, and other nearby hikes and attractions.

Coal Creek Falls – Quick Look

Waterfall Type: Horsetail
Height: 25 feet
Width: 10 feet
Location: Cougar Mountain Wildlife Park, Newcastle, Washington
Approach: Trail
Difficulty: Fairly easy
Pass requirement: None
Trail distance: 2.6-mile out-and-back
Average time to complete: 1 hour and 22 minutes
Best time to visit: April through September
Dogs: Allowed on leash
Nearby Waterfalls: North Fork Falls

Other Waterfalls In This Series

Little Mashell Falls • Wells Creek Falls • Devil’s Peak Falls • Edith Gorge Falls • Clayton Beach Falls • Racehorse FallsBlueberry Falls • Cougar Creek Falls • Lake Creek Falls • Colonial Creek Falls • Cavern Falls • Skyline Falls

The Waterfall Itself

Coal Creek Falls is a lovely 25-foot horsetail waterfall that runs strongest during the rainy winter months. The falls are viewed from a bridge directly in front of the waterfall, offering a fantastic vantage point. Surrounded by moss-covered walls, the falls fan out gracefully before dropping another couple of feet. Although not a massive waterfall, it is a beautiful sight that is relatively easy to reach.

How To Get There

The Red Town Trailhead is located within Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, 3 miles from I-90’s Exit 13. The trailhead has a large parking lot, which can fill up quickly. Facilities include two privies, garbage cans, a picnic table, historical interpretive signage, and a doggie bag dispenser.

From the trailhead, follow the Red Town Trail and turn left onto the Cave Holes Trail. After half a mile, turn right onto the Coal Creek Falls Trail and continue for another half-mile to the falls.

The Hike

Coal Creek Falls Winter Hike

The 2.6-mile out-and-back trail meanders through a lush forest of maple, alder, and cedar trees, with an understory of salmonberry, ferns, and various wildflower species during spring. The well-maintained trail has some muddy sections during winter and spring.

In my experience, I would say that the hike is suitable for young children, older folks, and even dogs on a leash. The best time to visit is from April to September.

Other Hikes and Attractions Nearby

For a slightly longer hike, continue along the falls and turn right at the fork in about half a mile onto the Indian Trail. Take a right again at the next fork and follow the trail for another half-mile to the parking lot. Another nearby waterfall to explore is North Fork Falls.


Coal Creek Falls is a wonderful destination for hikers seeking an easy, family-friendly trail with a beautiful payoff at the end. Its location within Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park offers a variety of additional trails and attractions to explore, making it an ideal outdoor destination near Seattle.

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