Rachor Falls is the largest waterfall along Black Creek as it descends a steep, narrow and very precarious canyon down the northwest side of Mount Si on the Snoqualmie Tree Farm. The falls begin with a 51 foot plunge - which veils out broadly at high flow - into a deep pool, followed by a fall of 23 feet which tumbles under a logjam before the creek runs through a narrow flume and 50-linear feet later hurtles off the lip of a 237 foot nearly vertical plunging fall into the deepest part of the canyon, slamming into a protruding rock near its base and creating a large roostertail at the bottom of the falls in the process.
For better or worse, Black Creek has been regulated in a small hydroelectric system which diverts the majority of the creek away from the canyon and the falls. A minimum release of 5 cubic feet per second is allowed to flow over the falls at all times, but occasionally the diversion is turned off and the falls flow with their full fury (moreso during the winter months).
Unfortunately, as impressive as the falls are, access is anything but simple or safe. Until May 2008 only one person was known to have successfully photographed the falls and to date fewer than a dozen people are thought to have visited the falls with the intent of specifically documenting it. Considering how close this one is to the Interstate 90 corridor this speaks to its remoteness, but this is also due to the fact that one must ford the creek in order to see the main part of the falls clearly.
Because the falls lie on the Snoqualmie Tree Farm, former Weyerhaeuser property which is now administered by Hancock Timber Management, access has never been an easy endeavor. Hancock allows motorized access on their lands only by purchasing an expensive access permit (which comes with a key to their gates). Until 2012 the public had been free to recreate via non-motorized means at any time, but starting in January 2012 Hancock will be charging a $75 annual recreation use fee for all forms of public access, motorized or non.
- Rachor Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
The name of the falls stems from the misconception that the creek was titled Rachor Creek, after the lake it heads in. Rachor Lake (believed to be pronounced "Ray-chur") was named for Rachor Taylor, daughter (one of six children) of William Taylor, the founder of the city of North Bend. That the falls only hold the same title as the lake is no less appropriate however.
Let us preface by saying Rachor Creek Canyon is deep, steep and very dangerous and should only be visited using the utmost caution. Use your best judgment when considering a visit. The falls are accessed from the Spur 10 Gate on the Snoqualmie Tree Farm north of North Bend. From North Bend, head north on Ballarat Avenue which later becomes North Fork County Road. Just under 4 miles from town, the road forks; head left (uphill). About 3 3/4 miles later you'll reach Spur 10 Gate (on the right) where a major cross road intersects the North Fork Road. Park and walk or bike the gated road for 1 1/2 miles to a three-way junction just past the bridge over the North Fork Snoqualmie River. Head right and then stay left at the next major road (where a sign points to Black Creek to the right). About 2 1/3 miles from the 3-way fork is an old road splitting off to the right and downhill. Its currently blocked by a massive pile of logs and forest waste and not easy to see unless you really look for it. Once you find the road, simply follow it to its end in front of Old Spur Falls. It's about 1/2 mile from the drivable road to the falls, and the old road gets progressively brushier and muddier as you get closer to Black Creek. Plan to get wet, dirty and very scratched up. Once the creek has been reached, scramble (steeply at times) about 500 feet downstream to the top of Rachor Falls. The ONLY safe way to see the big drop is to cross Rachor Creek at the top of the upper tier of the falls, then contour above the canyon until the slope tapers off to a manageable grade and then proceed downhill until a clear view can be found. This should only be attempted when the creek is running low - if the stream is more than 2-3 feet wide and no more than a foot deep, do not attempt to cross. Additionally, the rocks around the top of Rachor Falls are EXTREMELY slick, so it is recommended that the ford be undertaken in the deeper, more pebbly pools just upstream from the falls, rather than at the narrower channel where it appears possible to just jump across.