Peaceful, shaded and accessible, a perfect hike to slip in ahead of the unprecedented heatwave. I kept my ambitions in check and turned around at the second viewpoint.
Note that the trailhead pin is slightly off. The actual trailhead location is about a mile further east/south of the dropped pin. Following the driving directions, which indicate that you must pass the Skookum Falls viewpoint, and then the parking area is just on the left side of the highway.
The parking area has space for at least a dozen cars. There were only half a dozen there when I arrived around 10 am on one of the hottest days of the year (at least, I hope we won't see any hotter). There were a few more cars when I left around 1, but still plenty of spots.
I missed the trailhead at the start, and wound up scrambling up on boot paths that met up with the main trail. Don't be me! The trailhead is at the beginning (west/north end) of the parking area, signed and with an obvious trail.
The trail is in great condition for the most part, with smooth, wide tread. Most of the hike has an open, airy, cathedral feel I associate with old growth forests. From the trailhead to the second wooden bridge, the trail is moderately inclined, with some steep portions, but always switchbacked. Once past the wooden bridges, the incline is mild or flat.
The waterfalls, including Dalles Falls, have diminished to a relatively low flow at this point.
The views from the two viewpoints I saw were decent but too low to be spectacular. That being said, I still felt the hike was very worthwhile, given the combination of easy accessibility, fantastic tread, and low level of traffic. I plan to be back with an attempt at the third viewpoint later this season.
The human element
Most of the parties I saw were participants in the SISU 24, an adventure race. I encountered no more than half a dozen parties who weren't racing. Mots folks were polite and friendly.