Bear Creek Falls, regardless of the waterfall's name, occurs on the North Fork Skykomish River, just upstream from the mouth of Bear Creek, rather than on Bear Creek itself. This series of small punchbowls isn't very impressive, but the structure of the narrow gorge is worth the visit. During the spring, when the river is at its peak, the falls change form, and primarily become a punchbowl waterfall. This happens because a rather high volume river is squeezed into a 15 - 20 foot wide gorge, filling it nearly (or over) its rim, and only spreading out again once it drops over the final tier of the falls. If you plan on climbing around on the water-smoothed rock, be very sure that you can climb back up from wherever you choose to go. On my initial visit to the falls, I almost got stuck on a small ledge near the bottom of the falls, because I couldn't get a grip on the rock to pull myself back up.
- Bear Creek Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Bear Creek Falls were named for their proximity to the mouth of Bear Creek, not as a statement of the stream it lies on. The falls appear to have been known for quite some time, having been photographed as early as 1912. The date of discovery isn't known, but is likely within a few years of the earliest photographs (at most).
Note: This waterfall is currently inaccessible due to flood damage along the Index-Galena Road. Located near Troublesome Creek Campground, along the Index-Galena Road. Turn off of Highway 2 at Index, and follow the Index-Galena Road for about 12 miles to a gravel pullout on the right side of the road (if you pass San Juan campground, you've gone too far). The gorge can be seen through the trees from the road, and a short path drops down 100 feet to the exposed rocks along the falls. Use caution in this area, the rocks can be slick even when they are dry.