Whatcom County, Washington
Twin Falls is yet another case of a long forgotten, yet surprisingly significant waterfall amid much more impressive scenery. Located near the headwaters of Lookout Creek, the falls skip around 600 feet down a large cliff, splitting into two channels about 1/3 of the way down. When viewing the falls from below, the falls appear as follows; the right channel possesses the most volume, probably 75 percent or more, and consists of a 250 foot twisting three-tiered drop (pictured above), followed by 150 feet of steep cascades made up of a series of 20 to 30 foot falls. The left channel, which only appears to flow well when the creek is running higher, drops a sheer 300 feet over a solid wall, then cascades steeply for about 100 feet to the confluence with the left channel. The top 175 to 200 feet of the falls appear to be virtually impossible to see. Despite its proximity, and visibility from the Glacier Creek Road, two factors work against this waterfall. One; Lookout Creek possesses a very small watershed, and though it appears to flow all year long, by the late summer, it's nothing more than a trickle. Two; even though part the falls can be seen from the road (that being the top of the 300 foot fall on the left channel of the falls), due to the small volume of the stream, and the tall trees surrounding the streambed, you really have to be looking for the falls in order to successfully find them. On my first trip up the Glacier Creek Road, I was keeping watch for anything waterfall-like, but I didn't notice this one. Upon returning, I easily found the location of the falls, but the stream flow was low enough that I didn't even bother hiking to the base of the falls.
History and Naming
Twin Falls is the Historical name of this waterfall.
The falls were obviously named for the side-by-side segments which the creek forms as it drops over the falls. Though both segments can't be seen in tandem today, I suspect they may have been visible together when the falls were named. The falls were marked by name on a 1912 map of the Mount Baker area, and may have been discovered by the Easton Party. The Glacier-Mount Baker Trail, which climbed to the cabin at Camp Heliotrope (now gone), crossed Lookout Creek near the base of the falls. The grade which the trail climbed can still be seen between the two segments of the falls.
Twin Falls is difficult to photograph due to the twisting nature of the canyons. The more voluminous of the two branches can only be photographed from mid-stream or by climbing out onto a precarious perch atop a large mossy (slick) log at the base of the largest drop. The southern of the two segments is easier to see from the streambed (partially visible from the road) but will still require maneuvering around boulders and walking in the creek. The falls face east and are best lit in the late afternoon.
Location & Directions
Coordinates: 48.82156, -121.91285 Elevation: 3531 feet USGS Map: Groat Mountain 7 1/2"
Located on Heliotrope Ridge on the north side of Mount Baker. Heading east from Maple Falls, along Highway 542, just 7/10 of a mile to Glacier Creek Road, and turn right. Follow Glacier Creek Road for about 5 1/2 miles to where the road crosses Lookout Creek. The creek isn't labeled, so keep watch for three crossings of a small stream, as the road climbs steeply up the hillside; Lookout Creek is the third crossing. Though falls are only about 1/5 of a mile upstream from the road, getting close to the falls is a slow task. The route isn't terribly difficult, but will require perseverance, and perhaps a machete to hack through the numerous Devil's Club stalks that line the creek. If you plan on climbing to clear viewpoints of the right segment of the falls (not recommended), plan on scaling a very steep slope. Fording the creek may be necessary at several points. I do not recommend this trek unless you are familiar and comfortable with off-trail scrambling.View this location in Google Earth Twin Falls is marked with the large icon in the center of the map. Up to ten additional waterfalls (if any) may be marked as well, with links below.
Other Nearby Waterfalls
By The Numbers
The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. This information may be changed at any given time to ensure accuracy.
The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.
The Tallest Drop figure represents the height of the largest single drop within a multi-stepped waterfall. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.
Num of Drops
The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall. Stretches of interstitial stream in between two or more distinct drops of a single waterfall are NOT considered to be distinct drops of the waterfall unless the section of stream in question would otherwise qualify as a waterfall were it to be isolated.
The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. Often this number will be approximated because of a lack of approachability to many waterfalls. We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it.
Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. For smaller waterfalls, this figure will generally not differ much from the Average Width measurement, but for broader waterfalls - especially those that feature a crest that isn't constricted - this figure can at times be consideraby larger. Like the Average Width measurement, this measurement will take into account the difference in width at the top and bottom of the waterfall as much as possible, but will often be made based on the width of the crest of th falls alone.
The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. The Pitch figure only takes into account sections of stream which are actively falling. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. As an example, a waterfall which features two truly free-falling leaps separated by several dozen yards of flat stream will have a Pitch of 90 degrees. Similarly, a waterfall with two drops separated by a pool, one with a true free-falling drop, and one with a Horsetail type fall will average the two, so while the Plunging drop has a Pitch of 90 degrees, if the Horsetail drop has a Pitch of 45 degrees, the total Pitch will be roughly 67 degrees.
The Run of a waterfall is a measurement representing the total linear distance on the ground between the top and bottom of a waterfall. This figure is not often easy to establish with a high degree of precision and as such will often be estimated. Waterfalls with a longer Run will usually either be less steep, often cascading type waterfalls, or will feature multiple steps separated by shorter stretches of a more gradual gradient streambed.
The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. There are five primary Categories of falls in this system: Plunge, Horsetail, Steep Cascades, Shallow Cascades, and Rapids. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. For more information on our waterfall form classifications, see the Help page.
The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. For example, Washington's Palouse Falls occurs along the Palouse River - which is a tributary to the Snake River, which is itself a tributary to the Columbia River, which ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean, so Palouse Falls would then fall within the Columbia River watershed. Streams which empty directly into the ocean, or into a minor basin which then empties to the ocean will often have this field left blank.
The name of the watercourse which the waterfall occurs along. If the watercourse is not known to have an officially or colloquially recognized name, this field is left blank.
The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. We will rely on USGS data as much as possible, and attempt to take into account seasonal fluctuations in stream levels if possible. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best.
If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. The source of the stream may also be either unknown or undetermined.
A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Entries which specify a Flow Consistncy of 12 Months should in general have an acceptable flow at any time of year (but may be better during certain periods - see below).
A general estimate of the best period of the year during which time the falls will be considered at optimal conditions, or flowing at their best. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light.Close
CatalogedWaterfalls which are Cataloged we have visited and surveyed in person. Statistical information should be quite accurate (for the most part), and exact measurements will often be available (information is not guaranteed to always be up to date). Detailed information, directions, and photographs will almost always be available.
ConfirmedConfirmed Waterfalls are known to exist, should be relatively accurately mapped and geotagged, and the statistical information available will often be dependable. If height information is presented, it may be estimated but should be accurate. Directions will not likely be available.
UnconfirmedUnconfirmed Waterfalls are often marked on a published map, but we have yet to confirm the exact location and / or whether or not its stature is significant enough to qualify for listing in the database. Statistical information may be estimated and may be inaccurate. No directions.
UnknownWaterfalls marked as Unknown are either suspected to exist based on heresay or a hunch, or we have received unverified information suggesting a waterfall may exist near the location provided but cannot corroborate it in any way. Geodata may not be accurate, the location may not be known at all, and statistical information will be estimated and highly inaccurate.
InundatedInundated Waterfalls have been submerged beneath lakes or reservoirs, usually a result of impoundment of a river behind a dam, and most often no longer functionally exist (there may be rare exceptions). We maintain records for these features out of historical importance.
DisqualifiedWaterfalls which have been marked as Disqualified do not have the necessary stature or features to qualify as a legitimate waterfall according to our criteria. We will maintain records for entries with this status where the feature is well known and / or may have been historically referred to as a waterfall at some point in time.
PostedPosted Waterfalls are known to exist, and we may have a large amount of information associated with them, but are located on private property and are not legally accessible to the general public. Accessing waterfalls with this status should not be attempted without first being explicitly granted permission of the property owner.