Stafford Falls is a modest, often overlooked waterfall along Chinook Creek that makes up for its lack in stature by its radiant beauty. The pool below the falls is perhaps one of the best examples of glacially tinted blue water in the state. Chinook Creek has eroded many small cascades along its length, which makes it a little difficult to figure out where Stafford Falls occurs simply based on the sound of the creek, but come high water, the falls present a noticeable roar that can't be mistaken for anything else. The falls are rather impressive in the early summer, but I personally think this is a much nicer waterfall late in the year when the water levels are down.
- Stafford Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
It's unknown when Stafford Falls were discovered, which probably lends to the mystery surrounding the name of the falls. Several early accounts place the falls on the Ohanapecosh River below Chinook Creek, but modern maps place the falls 1 1/2 miles upstream, along Chinook Creek. The falls are named for William Stafford, an early ranger in Mt. Rainier National Park.
Stafford Falls is located along th Eastside Trail along the Highway 123 corridor in Mount Rainier National Park. Start at the Owyhigh Lakes Trailhead, 4 1/2 miles south of Cayuse Pass, and hike 1/4 mile to the Eastside Trail, then follow the Eastside Trail south for 1 1/2 miles to the falls. The waterfall can't be seen from the trail, so watch for a brushy unmarked spur trail on the left where the main trail heads down a small hill.