Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
Overgrown in places.
Friends suggested this hike from other sites and reports, and the promise of seeing a difficult-to-reach set of falls motivated us. Hiked the trail on the south side of the Middle Fork to the bridge crossing Cripple Creek. The trail to this point was okay; a little muddy in spots. Surprised at all the tiny spider webs crossing the trail. To head up to Tin Cup Joe Falls, find the take-off from the main trail just a few yards west of (before) the Cripple Creek bridge. From this point on, you're in full trail-finding mode as this is an un-maintained trail. The trail meanders along, sometimes right along the creek butusually a few hundred feet to the creek's west side. Sometimes the trail just disappears. There are a few orange trail markers, but they are very inconsistent and don't seem to follow the true trail. You will encounter many, many fallen trees, often in a big jumble, that are difficult to cross. Sometimes you can opt to deviate closer or further to the creek to avoid it, but usually we just found a way over and under them. I would not try this hike alone as there are plenty of ways to mess yourself up. The three of us hiked with my two Boston Terriers, and they needed help about half a dozen times to get from log to log. There were several opportunities to get to the creek and capture many smaller falls, but our goal was Tin Cup Joe. After almost 2 hours of scrambling and trail-finding, we came to the bottom of the lower part of Tin Cup Joe Falls. We could just see the main falls above and could see that they were spectacular, but we wanted a better vantage point, so we scrambled up a steep and dry stream bed to the right, often on all fours. Using a few fallen logs, we cross some dense low brush, but we failed to break out into a full view of the falls. So we headed about halfway down, this time trying to stay close to the creek. We finally punched out of the brush onto a rock/boulder ledge where we were able to get some pictures. The falls are truly remarkable -- arguably the best I have seen in Washington. There is a broad cascading fall that must fall 150 ft or more in one drop, then a few more beneath it. Likewise there is a long rope fall to the right that is equally impressive. I wish we could have reached a better vantage point. This was not an easy hike; difficult to get through some of the falls, but well worth the effort. You have to be patient. On the way back down, we found the trail more easily, and it was generally a little further from the creek than we expected. Back on the main trail, the 5 miles back to the trailhead was muddier than earlier, and a heavy rain set in over the last 2.5 miles. That wasn't fun, but it was not too cold. And we were pleased to have captured many great pictures of Tin Cup Joe Falls. The entire hike was between 11 and 12 miles, 7.5 hours, with lots of picture-taking along the way.