I tried to hike to Little Mashel Falls about a year ago. If you have read previous entries, you know that I wasn’t paying attention, wrote the directions to the trailhead down incorrectly, managed to get lost and instead turn it into a tour of the towns around Mount Rainier.
This time I successfully wrote down directions to the trailhead. And when I got there (finally, after a two hour and fifteen minute drive during ‘non’ rush hour traffic), I wasn’t sure I had the correct spot once again! I didn’t see the Pack Forest, with the trailhead parking lot nestled between some sort of digging businesses.
The Bud Blancher Trailhead is extremely flat for the first 1.5 miles. To get to the falls, you take a left onto a unmarked trail after the second bridge (I went past it the first time), then follow the handwritten sign to ‘Falls Trail.’
From there, it’s a good incline and after a short distance, the trail to the lower falls is on your left. If you’re confused on where the other falls are, just keep going straight for a bit longer, then take another, unmarked left trail back towards the Little Mashel River. You won’t be disappointed, because you’ll soon see another sign, telling you that the upper falls is just a little bit farther away.
I walked to view the upper falls, but didn’t get closer because the trail is very eroded. Snapped a few pictures, then turned around to see what the unlabeled middle falls looks like — and I was not disappointed.
I had the whole falls to myself, which was amazing — it’s a great spot to snack and relax! You can even take a dip underneath the falls, if you brought you’re bathing suit (it was a hot day, and relatively safe, as far as waterfall ponds go)
No wonder I saw a lot of discarded beer and soda cans on the giant slabs of rock to the left of me, as the middle falls drops down, there’s another smaller falls in the canyon below, a great gathering spot.
After a snack and some tanning, I got myself up and walked down to the lower falls. I didn’t go directly to the base of the falls, a bit because it wasn’t as impressive as the middle falls, a bit because a family was enjoying their lunch and I didn’t want to crash it, and a bit because I was tired from direct sunlight. I marveled at the canyon, snapped some pictures, and went on my merry way back to the car.
On my way back, I said hello to some goats, scared a tiny garden snake (I don’t like snakes, so I don’t know what kind it was, but it was tiny), and tried to guess what this raspberry-like plant is called.
I again ran into traffic on the way home, about two-and-a-quarter hours.
My advice to those interested in Little Mashel Falls: Go…if you live in the South Sound. It’s a great place to hang out, get a waterfall fix in, splash around in the water (either the falls or the rivers nearby), and it’s an easy hike.
For those in the North Sound like me, I’m sure there are places like this for us. I just have to find it.