Mashel Falls, located near Eatonville in Washington state, offers hikers the chance to experience not one, but three beautiful waterfalls: Lower Little Mashel Falls, Little Mashel Falls (also known as Middle Falls), and Tom Tom Falls (also known as Upper Falls).
Despite the name, these falls are not “little,” with the Middle Falls reaching a height of 90 feet. The falls cascade down the Little Mashel River, which is where the name comes from.
I’m assuming, however, that you’re probably interested in actually visiting the falls instead of just reading about them so let’s talk about how to get to Mashel Falls, what the hike is like, and other attractions nearby!
Mashel Falls – Quick Look
Pass: No Pass Required
Distance: 5.75 mi RT
Duration: 2-3 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy
Elevation Start: 485 ft
Elevation End: 1,185 ft
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Best Time to Visit: Year-round
Parking Pass: None
Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
Cell Phone Coverage: Good
Restrooms: None, except a portable toilet may be available about a quarter-mile onto the trail from the Bud Blancher trailhead.
Accessibility and Mobility: Some sections of the trail are quite flat and wide, and others are narrow and steeper with rocks and roots.
Other Waterfalls In This Series
The Waterfall Itself
Mashel Falls offers three waterfalls with multiple viewing areas and two different trailheads, making it a popular excursion for hikers. The tallest waterfall plunges over 90 feet, and the falls are not “little.” The falls are commonly referred to as Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls, respectively. The land around the Little Mashel River and Little Mashel Falls is the homeland of the Nisqually People.
How To Get There
From Eatonville, follow the signs towards Mt. Rainier National Park, which will take you along the Alder Cutoff Road. In a couple of miles, the road will go over the railroad tracks. Park at the large turnout just after the tracks and find the trail in the middle of the pullout.
The trail drops steeply down to the railroad trestle over the river. Cross the trestle and follow the trail to the right. When it hits the dirt road, turn right and follow the road until you see the sign pointing towards “Falls.” The trail heads downhill from there and eventually forks. The left fork heads down to “Lower Falls,” and the right fork goes to the “Middle Falls.”
Other Hikes and Attractions Nearby
The two trails, Pack Forest and Bud Blancher, meet at a 3-way junction between the Lower and Middle falls. Both involve walking a crushed rock road/trail for much of the route. The Pack Forest trail has no facilities, but it provides access to views unavailable from the Blancher Trail, including Mount Rainier and the lovely terraced cascade that heads south from the top of Tom Tom Falls. Both trailheads are open year-round.
Little Mashel Falls is a year-round hiking destination that offers breathtaking views of three waterfalls. The hike is considered easy, but hikers should come prepared with proper footwear, as the trail can be very muddy and slippery.
Additionally, hikers should use extreme caution on rocks and should not get too close to the edge, even for a great picture. The land surrounding the falls has varied ownership, so hikers should know where they are and respect property rights. Despite the lack of facilities, Little Mashel Falls is a must-see if you’re in the area!