While Twin Falls steals all the attention and glamor thanks to its easy access and the fact that it plunges directly into ironically named Twin Falls Lake, Lower Twin Falls is far and away the better waterfall. As it exits Twin Falls Lake Wilson Creek swerves around a small granite outcrop then sheets over smooth rock before hurtling over a huge cliff, spraying and zigzagging 236 feet in impressive form to the floor of the narrow valley below. Unfortunately unlike its upstream twin (bad pun of the day, check) there is simply no easy way to access Lower Twin Falls thanks to the extremely steep terrain.
While Twin Falls and its namesake lake were formed by the action of a large glacial melt stream pounding into the granite bedrock, what the force of the river did in the vicinity of this waterfall is much less clear. Huge boulders line the base of the falls, probably cleaved off of the facing cliff, but little other evidence exists of the voluminous river which flowed through this valley during the last ice age.
Because Wilson Creek is essentially fed by three small lakes and some swampland upstream from the falls, it will exhibit significant seasonal fluctuation in volume, ranging from a fairly powerful plunge during the spring to a very delicate plume in the autumn. As such the falls are not really worth visiting after the end of July outside of heavy snow years.
- Lower Twin Falls is the Unofficial name of this waterfall.
Twin Falls Lake was named for the presence of waterfalls on Wilson Creek plunging both into and out of the lake. The USGS however only distinguishes the falls dropping into the lake as Twin Falls, instead of referring to them collectively as the name would suggest, which leaves the lower falls officially unnamed and so it is usually just referred to as Lower Twin Falls. We find this to be the most logical convention as well, since the linear distance between the two falls is considerable thanks to the presence of the lake.
Starting in the town of Granite Falls, drive east along the Mountain Loop Highway for 16 1/4 miles and turn right onto FSR # 4020, signed for Boardman Lake, Ashland Lakes and Pinnacle Lake. Follow road 4020 for 2 3/4 miles then make a sharp right onto FSR # 4021, again signed for Ashland Lakes and Pinnacle Lake. Follow road 4021 for 1.4 miles then bear left at the sign for the Ashland Lakes trailhead and proceed less than 1000 feet further to the parking area. The Ashland Lakes trail beings along an old roadbed and climbs moderately to the Ashland Lakes basin. At all trail junctions stay to the right (the exceptions being trails leading to campsites). After 2.5 miles the trail to Twin Falls Lake will head right, crossing Wilson Creek shortly and becoming steeper and brushier as it descends another mile to Twin Falls Lake. Lower Twin Falls can be partially seen through the trees about 1/3 of a mile before reaching the lake. Accessing the base of the falls is not recommended, but can be done by descending a very steep gully at the apex of the final switchback before the trail crosses a small tributary stream on a wooden bridge. We strongly discourage this be attempted by anyone as the ground is very crumbly and covered in deadfall and loose boulders. As of May 2011 the trail between Lower Ashland Lake and Twin Falls Lake was closed due to several collapsed bridges.