Colonial Creek Falls – Exploring Washington’s Hidden Waterfalls

It’s hard to believe that the tallest waterfall in the United States is one that you’ve probably never heard of. In fact you could easily drive through North Cascades National Park (passing a couple viewpoints) and not notice it.

Washington’s Colonial Falls might be one of the most striking falls in the state but it’s location makes it a bit of a hidden wonder.

In fact, while many Washingtonians are aware that the state is home to thousands of waterfalls, not many are aware that a waterfall nearly 8x the height of Niagara Falls is right in their back yard.

So let’s take a close look at Colonial Falls, where you can see it and, if you’re brave, how you can get up close to parks of it. While hiking up to Colonial Falls isn’t for everyone, there are viewpoints that anyone can access to enjoy the beauty of the falls!

Colonial Creek Falls – Quick Look

Location: Ross Lake Area, Washington
Waterfall Type: Tiered
Height: 2,600 feet
Width: 40 feet
Difficulty: Very Easy (If you just want to see it…)
Nearby Waterfalls: Rhode Creek Falls

Other Waterfalls In This Series

Little Mashell Falls • Wells Creek Falls • Devil Creek Falls • Edith Gorge Falls • Clayton Beach Falls • Racehorse FallsBlueberry Falls • Cavern Falls

The Waterfall Itself

Colonial Creek Falls is a tiered waterfall dropping approximately 2,600 feet in a series of drops, slides, and cascades. With a total of 13 distinct steps, it has a considerable overall run of over 4,200 feet and an average pitch of about 65 degrees.

Colonial Creek is fed by the shrinking Colonial Glacier and flows consistently all year long, making it a sight to behold in any season.

How To Get There (Hikes & Viewpoints)

Falls of Niagara can be seen from miles away, offering breathtaking panoramic views. But for those willing to put in extra effort and explore closer up, they offer an unforgettable experience that cannot be seen elsewhere. Here are three routes leading directly towards them for maximum impact:

Ross Dam Trailhead Viewpoint: Travel east along Highway 20 until reaching Ross Dam Trailhead, which offers breathtaking views of Colonial Peak Falls from around five miles away, majestically plunging off its face and down towards Ross Lake.

Thunder Arm Bridge Viewpoint: For another picturesque scene near Ross Lake’s Diablo Arm bridge extending about 2 miles before reaching its trailhead, look no further. Here, there is another breathtaking vantage point known as Thunder Arm Bridge Viewpoint that allows guests to admire this scenic spot from another perspective.

Colonial Creek Falls Trail: If you’re seeking both adventure and an up-close view, Colonial Creek Falls Trail provides both. Starting off near Diablo Lake near Highway 20, its demanding climbers’ trail ascends along its majestic falls before traversing some of Washington State’s ruggedest terrain en route to Pyramid Lake marked with large signs. Along the route are dense woods with challenging terrain as you ascend approximately 1,500 feet before arriving at Pyramid Lake where climbers’ trail then follows around it quickly uphill for 2 more miles until reaching it where climbers’ trails weaving around its edge begins again to gain another 3kft over 2 miles before ending up where it starts at Pyramid Lake from.

Nearby Falls, Hikes, & Attractions

Apart from Colonial Creek Falls, there are other attractions in the area that you can explore:

  1. Rhode Creek Falls: Just a stone’s throw away from the iconic Colonial Creek Falls, you’ll find another hidden gem waiting to be explored: Rhode Creek Falls. This lesser-known but equally mesmerizing waterfall is an excellent addition to your North Cascades adventure. With its multi-tiered cascades nestled amid lush greenery, Rhode Creek Falls offers a serene and picturesque retreat from the bustling trails of Colonial Creek. The hike to Rhode Creek Falls is moderately challenging, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a quieter but equally rewarding experience. Its proximity to Colonial Creek Falls makes it an ideal second stop on your waterfall hunting journey through Washington State.
  2. Colonial Basin: Nestled beneath Colonial Peak, Colonial Basin provides access to several notable summits that will please both avid explorers and casual sightseers. Take an excursion to Paul Bunyon’s Stump, a odd but stunning rock formation fun or attempt hiking Neve Peak. Nearby Pinnacle Peak also provides breathtaking panoramic views while Snowfield Peak stands as an eye-catcher – each landmark adds something different and special to make sure that Colonial Basin remains an experience rich with variety!


Colonial Creek Falls is a hidden gem in Washington State, boasting the title of the tallest waterfall in the continental United States.

Although it may not be as visually striking from a distance, the effort to get up close and personal with this natural wonder is well worth it. So, the next time you find yourself exploring the North Cascades National Park, make sure to add Colonial Creek Falls to your list of must-see attractions.