I Spy... Twin Falls (for kids)  LbNA # 32263 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateJun 26 2007
LocationNorth Bend, WA
Planted Byeastsidemom    
Found By traveling umpires
Last Found Nov 10 2007
Hike Distance?

What It Is: A 3-mile round-trip hike along river and up hill (& down & up again), ending with a sturdy bridge over the river for great views of two water falls on the South Fork Snoqualmie River.


IMPORTANT NOTICE As of April 2008 (less than 10 months), all three boxes appear to be missing. Perhaps the route is simply too well-travelled for the boxes to remain unnoticed by hikers unfamiliar with letterboxing. So I have no plans to replace them. However, I am leaving the hike on the website because it's a great hike and the directions have lots of fun things for the kids to look for even if no letterboxes. Might be fun if future Twin Falls hikers took baggies of stickers to hide in the former letterbox spots - and not costly enough to worry about if another hiker helpfully puts them in the garabge. Not technically letterboxing, but well within the spirit.


The route had three letterboxes: one along the river (fish), one going up the hill (mouse), and one on a rocky outcrop (cat). The stamps were basic purchased stamps, not homemade art (thank goodness, since they all disappeared). The point of this letterbox hike is to make a fun hike with the kids even more fun by adding a hunt.

The hike is suitable for most children ages three and up (and grown-ups, too!). Intrepid two-year-olds can do it also, but expect to carry them at least part way. Pack snacks and/or lunch to enjoy at the two viewing points. You may want a change of shoes for play in the water on the return trip (a rocky rather than sandy beach). The trail is mostly in shade, so it's good for a warm summer day.

How to Get There: Start at Twin Falls State Park just outside North Bend, WA. From I-90, take exit 34 (468th Ave SE) and head south. Just before the bridge, turn left onto SE 159th. This road soon ends at the parking lot for Twin Falls State Park.

The trailhead is at the south end of the parking lot. You can go straight to check out the river first, but to follow the I Spy path, head left along the graveled trail. You’ll travel along the river, just above flood level, for about half a mile.

I Spy… a fish!: Cross the footbridge. Look for the “wrinkly” trees on the right (the moss is growing in drooping folds). Soon you’ll see a fallen tree trunk along the right side of the trail. Next, watch the right side of the trail for a tree that seems to be standing up on its roots, almost as if it wants to dance. This is where the first letterbox was hidden (maybe stickers now?). The stamp pictured a simple fish. Think about the river beside you and try to imagine being a fish swimming there. What type of fish would you be?

Look carefully up and down the trail to be sure no one is coming – remember, just like a pirate hiding his treasure, you want to keep the letterbox site secret from other hikers. Get a small stick and use that to clear out any spider webs in the hollow space between the tree’s “legs.” The letterbox was at the back of this space, hidden under moss and large pieces of bark. If you find a bag of stickers, remove it and head down the trail a little bit to open it, to help disguise the site from any passing hikers (it’s a busy, popular trail). Be sure to hide the bag back where you found it, covering it well so that no one just hiking along will spot it. Moss and large pieces of bark work well for this.

Soon, the trail will take you past the best place for river access (at least in summer) – a thirty-feet-or-so stretch of rocky shore with easy access from the trail. It’s perfect for wading, tossing stones (plentiful supply!), and climbing on small boulders at the river’s edge. Walk on by for now, but be sure to stop on your way back if the weather & water level are good.

I Spy… a mouse!: Continue down the trail. Look for the boulder with a face in it. (If you want to climb on top, the easier path is from the left.) The trail starts to move away from the river and up into older forest. Soon the trail will make a series of switchbacks to climb the hill (about 300 foot elevation gain, per my hiking guide book). After the first looong upward stretch, the trail turns around a large boulder. Go to the back side of the boulder and climb on top (easy access). Imagine you are a little mouse scurrying around the forest. Where would you hide?

Looking forward, across the trail you just climbed & towards the river (south), you’ll see another boulder on the far side of the trail. There’s a small tree growing over a lower portion of the boulder, with its roots creeping over it to the ground. Climb down from the first boulder (down the way you came up) and cross to this second boulder.

Look carefully up & down the trail to make sure no other hikers are in sight (remember to look up where the trail criss-crosses the hillside). When the coast is clear, walk around the boulder on its left. On the far side, snug along its back at ground level, the second letterbox was hidden behind pieces of bark and other plant matter. If you find a bag of stickers, remove it and head back down the trail a little bit to check it out. When the coast is clear again, re-hide the bag where you found it, covering it well.

At this point, you might choose to turn around. Most of the upwards stretch is still to come and the third letterbox site is near the very end. But, you’ll miss out on seeing the waterfalls, the 700-year-old fir tree, and some other lovely forest scenery.

I Spy… a cat!: Continue climbing the trail. The section with the wooden railing beside it is the final climb (on that portion of the trail). Follow the railing to its end, where you’ll find two benches and a great view of the two waterfalls. You may also find a very strong wind. Sit and have a drink and a snack for a few minutes before tackling the remainder of the trail. The hardest climb is over, but there is more climbing to come.

When you’re ready, retrace your steps about twenty feet to where the trail splits. The well-traveled trail to your right is the one that leads to the waterfalls. Follow it down and up, down and up (but never as big an up as you’ve already come). A sampling of the interesting sights you’ll see: A tree that fell over, leaving its roots hanging in the air along the trail. A 700-year-old fir tree, with its roots fenced off to protect it from hikers. Several springs coming out of the high side of the trail and across the path. And at least two hollow trees worth a look inside.

You’ll pass by a flight of stairs leading down to your right. This is a series of 100+ steps going down to a nice overlook of the lower falls. If you’ve got the extra energy, it’s nice. If you can’t stand the thought of taking the 100+ steps back up, keep moving forward.

As you approach the end of the hike, the trail gets wider and there is more level ground on both sides of the trail. When the trail makes a sharp left turn, with a wooden railing on the far side, it’s time to find the final letterbox site. Immediately to the right of where the fence begins is a large tree. The letterbox was hidden on the far side of this tree. Look up and down the trail carefully – when the coast is clear of other hikers, walk around to the right (and onto a large rocky outcrop overlooking the trail’s bridge). Imagine you're a cougar standing proud on top of this rocky overlook (but not too close to the edge!).

Now look for the letterbox site. Don’t let hikers on the bridge below see what you’re doing! The letterbox was at the base of this tree, hidden under moss and bark pieces, between two roots. If you find a bag of stickers, remove it and move down the trail a little bit to check it out. When the coast is clear again, re-hide the bag where you found it, covering it well.

The Big Finish: Continue down the trail. Very shortly, you’ll come upon several steps leading to the bridge over the South Fork Snoqualmie River. On your left, you’ll have a great view of the upper falls. You can just make out the lower falls on your right (and see the overlook at the bottom of the 100+ stairs). Cross the bridge and go up several more steps. The path at the top of these steps tends to be slippery from a spring, so be very careful here. At the top of this slope is a bench. Around the corner up a few more steps is another bench, and a fairly-level & dry wide spot in the trail where you can pitch a small picnic blanket without blocking the trail. Keep an eye out for the chipmunk who agrees that it’s a good spot to eat. When you’re rested, it’s time to head back to the car, stopping to play along the river if you wish.