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About Us > Adventures > Franklin Falls and Denny Creek Campground

Family-Friendly Camping / Hiking:
Franklin Falls and Denny Creek Campground June 1-2, 2007
C.W. Schurman July 2007

On the first weekend in June we decided to leave town a little early (though not early enough to beat most of rush hour) and head for Denny Creek Campground (exit 46) to try out car camping, something I grew up doing as a young girl but which we had not yet tried with our own 3-year-old daughter. We arrived at camp around 5 p.m. without a reservation and were fortunate to get one of the three non-reservable sites remaining, lucky #13 right near the rest rooms. After registering ($17 per night) and buying some firewood ($6 per bundle) we quickly set up camp so we could have time to explore.

I took over tent duty while Brooke played sword/sticks with the tent poles, our dog Emily whined at the end of her short tether, and Doug got a fire started to cook bratwursts and marshmallows. I imagine camping is probably a heavenly experience for most kids – tasty food cooked over a fire, cavernous tents with cushy pads and sleeping bags to hide inside, dirt to dig in and tree roots on banks to clamor over. With several rivers nearby, the constant background noise of I-90 was masked more than I thought it might be, though Doug suggested we try campgrounds farther from major highways at some point this summer!

When we had finished eating we took a short walk around the whole campground to evaluate other camp sites for future trips, stopping at the stream so Brooke could throw rocks in the raging water and laugh at the dog as she got all four paws wet in the water. After Brooke’s experiment with books by flashlight (she’d turn on, I’d read, then she’d flick off and I’d stop mid-sentence – she thought it was hilarious) she seemed willing to try to sleep but it took a while. I never knew she was such a restless sleeper!

Pictures of Family-Friendly Camping Activities

camp site #13 - tent, dog, fire, camp stools


camp site #13 - tent, dog, fire, camp stools

roasted marshmallow on chocolate and graham cracker


roasted marshmallow on chocolate and graham cracker

scrambling over tree roots just out of camp site


scrambling over tree roots just out of camp site

family activity throwing sticks into river, laughing at wading dog


family activity throwing sticks into river, laughing at wading dog

family huddle on dog bed


family huddle on dog bed

Saturday morning I got up at my usual ridiculously early time and took Emily with me to scout out two nearby hikes, Franklin Falls and Denny Creek waterslide. Emily loved to sniff everything, but this morning she stayed close by my side. We decided on the former as our family hike destination. Once everyone was awake and we had finished our breakfast of eggs and pancakes, we set out to explore Franklin Falls.

Franklin Falls

From our camp site the total trip was probably close to 2.5 miles, and 3-year-old Brooke walked the entire thing on her own. With countless nurse logs, mossy trees, great views of the river, boardwalks, bridges, and built-in stair steps that kept leading up, she remained entertained all the way to the 75-foot-high waterfall itself.

Once we reached the vista, we were somewhat surprised at the slick rocks leading down to the falls – a better time of year to see the falls (at least in terms of safety for young children) might be mid-July after winter run-off is completed, though volume of water falling down would clearly be considerably less. Later in the day (early afternoon, once the sun has dried off the rocks) would also be a more child-friendly time to go than first thing in the morning. We didn’t feel comfortable taking Brooke down the slick rocks, so we backtracked a bit to the old wagon road trail to eat a snack in the sun before heading back the way we came. Her reward for doing so well: stopping at the large smooth rock jutting out in the stream within .25 miles of the trailhead so she could throw sticks and rocks and watch the water cascading all around her. A nice short weekend trip for a young child just “getting her feet wet” with the whole car camping/ day hiking experience, just 45 minutes outside of Seattle.

Pictures of Attractions along Franklin Falls

nurse logs with


nurse logs with "caves"

stairs and bridges are fun for kids


stairs and bridges are fun for kids

river views during whole mile walk


river views during whole mile walk

lunch stop


lunch stop

final destination: the falls under I-90


final destination: the falls under I-90

wading rock out in river


wading rock out in river



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