Shoestring Falls is the first significant waterfall of the plethora of waterfalls one can seek out in the drainage of the West Fork of the Foss River. The unnamed stream drains from Panorama Lake and a small permanent snow patch hiding beneath the north face of Malachite Peak in a basin over 3,000 feet above the floor of the Foss River valley. All the melt water and runoff from this basin percolates through a large talus field and then starts tumbling down an avalanche-ravaged slope, then as the stream encounters the valley wall itself, it hurtles down a lofty series of stair-step plunges and horsetails, dropping somewhere around 1,100 feet in (at least) five distinct tiers before hitting the alluvial fan on the valley floor from which the stream tumbles through the forest at a much more tepid pace for another 500-600 feet to meet the Foss River. The upper two tiers of the falls occur within a rather narrow recess and do not lend themselves to visibility from the valley floor very well, while the lower most tier(s) are obstructed by trees along the valley floor when viewed from the Foss Lakes trail. That leaves the visible portion of the falls as the two middle tiers, plus the top of a third drop from some perspectives, as the only visible portions of the falls - this accounts for perhaps 500-600 feet of the total drop of the falls, including the largest individual drop of around 300 feet.
The stream which produces this waterfall also exhibits an interesting split-channel behavior during periods of higher runoff. Adjacent and immediately south of the tallest and most visible tier of Shoestring Falls a low-volume horsetail-style waterfall can be seen falling gently for about 300-400 feet into the valley proper. This fall is fed by a portion of the same stream producing Shoestring Falls which trickles off course. By August in most years this additional fall runs dry. We had previously referred to this waterfall individually as "Sunray Falls", but upon further surveying have determined it to not be of enough significance to remain listed separately (it may have also been diminished in stature due to recent flooding or landslides as it was barely flowing when last surveyed in July 2012 while Shoestring Falls was at the highest level we've witnessed).
Shoestring Falls is a perennial waterfall, though the basin it drains from is limited in size and in following it will flow with a considerably reduced volume during the autumn months. The falls also likely freeze solid during the peak months of the winter.
- Shoestring Falls is the Proposed name of this waterfall.
This waterfall is not known to have any official or historical name. We've suggested the name Shoestring Falls for the fact that the falls drop in such a narrow series of plunges down the mountainside that it appears as if someone draped a white shoe string down from the summit of the peak.
Shoestring Falls is found in the Foss River valley off Highway 2 near Skykomish. Take Highway 2 east from Skykomish to the Skykomish Ranger Station, then continue another half-mile and turn right onto the Foss River Road. Follow the road for 4 1/2 miles and turn left where the main road continues straight, following signs for the West Fork Foss Trail, then proceed to its end at the trailhead in another 2 miles. Follow the Foss Lakes trail for no more than 10 minutes to where the falls will come into view. The best views will be had from about 20 feet off the trail a little less than half of a mile from the trailhead.