Racehorse Creek thunders over a great waterfall situated within a short, shallow and very interesting gorge. The falls drop a total of 139 feet over four distinct steps. The first two tiers are back-to-back punchbowl-type plunges of 19 and 44 feet respectively, which both feature deep potholes at their bases. Immediately below the second tier the creek accelerates down a ramp-like cascading fall for about 15 feet and then comes to the final drop where it first plunges over an undercut ledge and then slams onto a diagonally pitched bedrock ramp and veils out in a broad sheet, with a small pool on one side about three-quarters of the way down and ending in a much larger pool. The basin at the bottom of the falls is held back by a second diagonally pitched ramp of bedrock, within which is another small fall of about 10 feet.
Racehorse Falls is formed where the creek runs across the boundary between the Chuckanut Sandstone formation and the glacial drift which occupies most of the lower Nooksack valley. The bedrock ramp immediately below the falls however appears to be made up of very poorly sorted Conglomerate bedrock, which may be related to the nearby Bald Mountain formation to the northwest. The exposure of the Chuckanut Sandstone in the area around the falls has revealed several well preserved fossils - among them a large palm frond can be found for those who wish to explore.
Due in part to this particular geology, Racehorse Falls was the site of a significant flash flood in 2009. Following heavy rains during the winter, a huge debris avalanche slid into Racehorse Creek about 400 feet upstream from the top of the falls. The creek quickly back-filled the resulting dam and eventually burst through, sending a huge volume of water, dirt, logs and rocks surging over the falls and downstream. This resulted in several very large boulders being removed from the upper tiers of the falls, significant scouring of the basin below the falls and extensive flooding in the valley below the falls. One of the trails to the falls was essentially destroyed, the pool below the falls as well as a second one just downstream of the falls were both filled in with rocks (the pool below the falls is starting to re-form, but the other is likely buried forever) and many trees downstream were ripped out and toppled. The big benefit in this event is the falls are much easier to see and appreciate now, though access has changed somewhat.
- Racehorse Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Head east from Bellingham to the junction of Highways 542 and 9 in Deming. Proceed another 2.3 miles east on Highway 542 to Mosquito Lake Road and turn right. In just under a mile, after crossing the Nooksack River, turn left on North Fork Road. Drive this route for 4 1/4 miles to the bridge over Racehorse Creek. Continue another half mile to the top of the hill and park where the road bends to the left. Find the unmarked but obvious trail here and follow it for one third of a mile to where it makes a tight switchback to the left. The falls can be heard but not seen from this point. Watch for a path branching off to the right, indicated by pink flagging, which will lead steeply down hill to the base of the falls. The path to the bottom of the falls is crumbly and can be slick and muddy when wet, so use caution when climbing down.