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Sunset Falls   (Posted)
   Snohomish County, Washington

[ Physical Makeup ]  [ Pictures ]  [ Maps ]  [ Update History ]

Sunset Falls is the largest and the final of the three major waterfalls on the South Fork of the Skykomish River. The falls drop 104 vertical feet over a 275 foot long, sloping granite chute. While it's not terribly obvious at first several potholes in the middle of the falls form large roostertails, or waterwheels, in the bottom half of the falls, which, at high water levels, can shoot over 30 feet into the air. Unfortunately, accessing the falls is not publicly convenient at the moment. The primary access had formerly been via US 2 from the State Department of Fish and Wildlife facility at the falls (I believe it's a fish counting station), but thanks to vandalism the state has closed access. Additionally private landowners upstream from the falls have heavily posted the road which leads to this access point, so this is not a viable option. The alternate access is via a private road on the opposite side of the river, however we have been recently informed by a landowner in the area that the road maintenance is funded on a voluntary basis, and because the community doesn't have enough money to actively repair the road, public traffic is not desired. Please do not drive to the falls using this access (we are however under the impression that walking or biking would be fine). Paddling organization American Whitewater has been working with the state to restore access from the US 2 side of the river and any attempts to view the falls while the facility is off limits may hinder any progress being made, so please save visiting this waterfall for another time when it can be easily accessed by all in a legal manor.

As of late 2011, the Snohomish County Public Utility District has proposed building a dam on the South Fork Skykomish River just upstream of Canyon Falls, which would divert as much as 2,500 cubic feet of water per second to a powerhouse located at the base of Sunset Falls. During springtime flows, this would result in as much as half of the river being diverted away from the falls, and during autumn and winter months may result in as much as 90 percent of the river being diverted. Prescribed releases would ensure the falls would continue flowing, but chances are they would not be more than 100-200 cubic feet per second, which is anywhere from one-fourth to one-eighth of the average volume of the river during its lowest natural flows in the late summer months.

HISTORY AND NAMING INFORMATION

  • Sunset Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.

LOCATION AND DIRECTIONS

Sunset Falls occurs within a private development which does not currently allow general public access to the falls, however there are several vacation rental properties in the vicinity which will allow visitors access to the falls. There is a facility on the north side of the river owned and operated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife which was in the past used for public access, however vandalism has forced the state to close it. Several groups are negotiating to have public access restored to this side of the river, but in the mean time please do not attempt to visit the falls unless you have permission from a resident of the area.

Latitude

47.80396 N

Longitude

-121.54962 W

Elevation

557 feet

USGS Quadrangle

Index 7 1/2"

Online USGS Topographic maps on Terraserver

Aerial Photographs: Terraserver | Flash Earth

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OTHER NEARBY WATERFALLS

Name

Distance

Canyon Falls

1.09 miles

Bridal Veil Falls

2.163 miles

Eagle Falls

2.791 miles

Deer Creek Falls

3.337 miles

North Star Falls

5.275 miles

Upper Mt. Index Falls

6.074 miles

Lower Mt. Index Falls

6.259 miles

Upper Holoman Falls

6.467 miles

Lower Holoman Falls

6.612 miles

Isabel Falls

7.824 miles

 

 

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Magnitude

48.75

IWC

6.7  (Class 7)

RATING

64.16 %

 

Photo of Sunset Falls

[ View Pictures ]

 

PHYSICAL MAKEUP

Height

104 feet

Tallest Drop

104 feet

Num. Drops

1

AVG. Width

40 feet

Pitch

45 degrees

Run

470 feet

Primary Form

Gradual Sliding Cascade

 

Watershed

Skykomish River

Stream

South Fork Skykomish River

AVG. Volume

2427.0 cfs

Source

Glacier

Seasonality

Best Flows

Year Round

 
 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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Information on this waterfall at the World Waterfall Database

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UPDATE HISTORY

Jul 09, 2012

Edited basic information about this waterfall

 
 
 
 
 

 

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