Chenuis Falls is one of the more popular and easily accessible destinations in the Carbon River area, complete with creekside access to the cascading waterfall through a thick forest of cedar and hemlock.
Total Distance: 7.6 miles Total Ascent: 400ft Highest Point: 2200ft
To get there, take I-5 South to I-405. From I-405 take SR 167 south toward Auburn. In 20 miles take the SR 410 Exit toward Sumner/Yakima. Follow SR 410 for 12 miles to SR 165. Take a right and continue on SR 165 for about 10 miles through Wilkeson and Carbonado to the Carbon River Road/Mowich Lake Road junction. Veer left onto the Carbon River Road and follow for 7.7 miles to the Carbon River Entrance of Mt. Rainer and parking. View Google Directions >>
The hike begins from the Carbon River Entrance, following the Carbon River Road through a temperate rainforest of fir and cedar. The road provides access to a number of hikes, and many people opt to bike the road to cut down on travel time, though there is something to be said for the more leisurely walk through the woods. Flat and wide, the miles pass quickly and easily passing the Green Lake Trailhead after about three miles. The Chenuis Falls Trailhead is just another half-mile or so beyond. The well-signed trailhead will be on your left.
Turn off onto the Chenuis Falls Trail and begin to cross Carbon River's wide and rocky riverbed. A log bridge allows access across the rushing water, though the unruly river has been known to carry the bridge away on a fairly regular basis. If there is no bridge, we do not recommend you attempt to ford the river. Check with the ranger station to make sure the bridge is in place. Once across, the trail quickly leads to a rocky area with excellent views of the falls. Settle in for a snack and enjoy the sounds of the water.
Almost entirely flat and easily accessible, Chenuis Falls is perfect for hikers of any age. With the closure of the Carbon River Road, Chenuis Falls has become a hiking destination rather than simply a roadside pit stop. As a result, you can expect a little company on this hike. Still, the falls are well worth a visit whenever youre in the area. If youre looking to extend your day, you can head back to the Green Lake Trailhead or push further into the Carbon River Valley and visit Ipsut Campground.
Chenuis Falls tumbles down the side of Chenuis Mountain just before Chenuis Creek joins the Carbon River. The name chenuis has been attached to this area for quite some time, and it is thought to be of Native American origin. While we were not able to find a definitive answer, it is believed that it was named in honor of a prominent tribal leader. When the Carbon River Road was open, hikers could drive directly to the Chenuis Falls Trailhead and park, allowing hikers to make a short .2 mile jaunt to the falls with very little effort. Since the Carbon River Road closed in 2008, grass has grown and covered the Chenuis Falls parking area, though it is still easy to see where it was. The road closure is likely to be permanent, which means a visit to Chenuis Falls now requires an additional 3.7 miles of travel to access.