Where to Find Waterfalls in Thurston County

The Tumwater Falls is beautiful at every season. Winter brings unique ice formations for all to see. Visit this Thurston County treasure anytime of year. Photo credit: Maggie Jay

Waterfalls have a special quality to them. The smooth water spilling over its crest, roaring endlessly into the plunge pool below, providing energy and cleansing to the lookers on. With the variety of waterfalls in the Thurston County area, there are falls for every type of adventure seeker. From viewing platforms just steps from the parking lot, to wheelchair and stroller friendly trails, to full on hikes with a bit of bouldering. Here is where to find waterfalls in Thurston County for your next hiking or biking adventure near Olympia.

Bring a picnic lunch to Thurston County’s Mima Falls and nibble on your sandwich to the sound of the rushing falls. Photo credit: Maggie Jay

Mima Falls Trailhead Near Olympia

The closest crossroads for Mima Falls Trailhead and Parking Lot are Marksman Street SW and Bordeaux Road SW near Mima, Washington.

A quick 30-minute drive from Olympia, Mima Falls Loop is a 5-mile hike with few inclines and shaded trails, it is considered a moderate hike. Soft mossy tree trucks, in an old growth forest, lead venturers to bogs blooming with plant life.

Indulge in your noon time morsels from a picnic table just above the 25-foot waterfall near Olympia. Take your time scaling down the short incline to view the Mima Falls up close. Explore the foot of Mima Falls, or kick back on the long log for a front row seat to the falls.

Alternately, hikers who are short on time can take the more direct route, about half a mile, to the waterfall. If you’re looking for a place to take your horses out for a trail ride in Thurston County, trot on over to Mima Mounds. Mima Falls Loop is open to travelers year-round. Muddy conditions may exist.

Stay for a few days a mile from the Mima Falls Trailhead at Margaret McKenney Campground. Actually, guests can pitch a tent for up to 7 days here for free!

Falls Creek Near Little Rock

Falls Creek Trailhead can be found just off of Sherman Valley Road and Capital Peak Road, about 30 minutes outside of Olympia in Capitol State Forest. The area presents tons of trail options for long and short hauls.

Find Falls Creek waterfall on the Greenline climbing to Wedekind Trail. Over 9 miles of trails that offer a multitude of gorgeous views and a few waterfalls, including the leisurely Fall Creek.

Pack your tent and mountain biking gear and stay for a few days at the Fall Creek Campground, exploring the many miles of trails. It’s just far enough out of town to feel secluded, yet close enough to enjoy a full weekend without needing a full day for travel. There are horse friendly trails here too.

Deschutes Falls Near Yelm

The parking lot for Deschutes Falls is just off of 153rd Avenue SE on Lawrence Lake Road.

Travel just beyond Yelm in Thurston County and experience a multi-tiered waterfall at Deschutes Falls. Making its way through a slim canyon, spilling out into the Deschutes River, the entire waterfall is over 50 feet high, with tiers ranging from 20 to 30 feet.

Most of this trail is undeveloped, with hikers finding wild flowers and strawberries on this 1-mile round trip route. View the Deschutes Falls from an observation deck or hike down a bit further to see the blue green pools that flow into the river.

Enjoy the rest of the Deschutes Falls Park while you’re visiting. It is well-known for it 400-foot gorge, hundreds of acres of native plants and natural rocks and its 70-foot canyon. Kids love checking out the log cabin too.

While Deschutes Falls is open all year, the strongest flow is expected between November and the end of April. Other times may show a more reduced flow. And, if you didn’t get enough time around the water, stop at Long Lake in Lacey for a quick dip with the family.

Slide into The Old Firehouse in Yelm on your way to and from your hike at Deschutes Falls. Think sweet potato fries, homemade breads, pastries, jams and jellies alongside menu options that keep you coming back time and again.

wood walkway with rails at Tumwater Falls at Brewery Park
Walk the trails at Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls in Thurston County to find waterfalls, blooming flowers and a history lesson! Photo credit: Maggie Jay

Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls

110 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater

Tumwater Falls sits on the Deschutes River and is one of the most well-known destinations to see waterfalls in Thurston County. The first set of waterfalls is just outside of the parking lot.

Stroll along the trails on either side of the river and encounter tiny waterfalls, blooming flowers and a nice surprise waterfall down the stairs at the end of the trail, less than a mile from the start. This is the perfect place for an after-dinner stroll with its mild inclines and supple scenery.

Watch salmon swim upstream each season on this lovely path, mostly consisting of gravel, where all-terrain wheels are suggested. Deschutes Valley Trail runs parallel to the walking path and is ADA-accessible.

Stop by Jean-Pierre’s Three16 for a French-Pacific Northwest fusion experience. This highly rated restaurant with an exclusive wine list, is locally owned.


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