Martha Falls

Mt Rainier National Park / Stevens Canyon, Washington, USA

About Martha Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside or 2 miles round-trip (to base)
Suggested Time: up to 1 hour

Date first visited: 2011-08-25
Date last visited: 2021-06-21

Waterfall Latitude: 46.76711
Waterfall Longitude: -121.69393

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Martha Falls was a waterfall that we got to see in a couple of different ways.

The first way allowed us to experience it from a distance across Stevens Canyon along the Stevens Canyon Road on the southeastern slopes of Mt Rainier.

Rainier_453_08252011 - The full drop of Martha Falls as seen from the Stevens Canyon Road
The full drop of Martha Falls as seen from the Stevens Canyon Road

The second way took me down to Unicorn Creek along the Wonderland Trail, where I was able to get close to one of the many tiers that comprised the 150ft waterfall.

I’ll describe each of these methods below.

Experiencing Martha Falls in its entirety

To experience Martha Falls in its entirety, we had to drive to an official pullout or wayside with some signage about glaciers (see directions below).

From this vantage point, we only managed to see an angled view of the very bottom tier of the series of cascades and waterfalls making up Martha Falls.

Rainier_450_08252011 - Focused on the final plunge of Martha Falls as seen from Stevens Canyon Road
Focused on the final plunge of Martha Falls as seen from Stevens Canyon Road

In order to get the full view that you see in the photo above, I had to walk along the Stevens Canyon Road until most of the cascade revealed itself.

I’m not sure if walking along the road is a sanctioned practice or not due to the lack of trails, but it was the only way I could think of to truly experience the entirety of Martha Falls.

Of course, the very distant look-but-don’t-touch view of the waterfall left me wanting to do more, but that was about it as far as experiencing the falls in this manner.

By the way, the views across Stevens Canyon from the road also provided me some context of the Wonderland Trail as I could see it from the higher vantage point of the Stevens Canyon Road.

Experiencing Martha Falls intimately

Martha_Falls_009_iPhone_06212021 - Close-up look at just one of the handful of tiers of Martha Falls as seen from the one-sided log bridge over Unicorn Creek
Close-up look at just one of the handful of tiers of Martha Falls as seen from the one-sided log bridge over Unicorn Creek

As for getting close to Martha Falls, I managed to do this by parking close to the Wonderland Trail access (see directions below).

After walking a few paces from the pullout along the Stevens Canyon Road nearest to the Wonderland Trail, I then descended the trail along a well-maintained footpath.

The trail would continue to descend for about a mile (there were still some snow patches during my mid-June 2021 visit) before reaching a one-sided log bridge fronting one of the tiers of Martha Falls.

Even though I was able to feel the rush of Unicorn Creek (some of its waters actually went above the one-sided log bridge), I was a little disappointed in that I could only see about 30ft or so of its entire drop.

Martha_Falls_006_iPhone_06212021 - Looking across the one-sided log bridge over Unicorn Creek fronting one tier of Martha Falls
Looking across the one-sided log bridge over Unicorn Creek fronting one tier of Martha Falls

Indeed, if this was the only way I had experienced Martha Falls (as the Stevens Canyon Road views seemed unsanctioned), then I might have been tricked into thinking this waterfall was only 30ft tall or shorter!

Anyways, once I had my fill of this frontal perspective of the waterfall, then I had to hike back up to the Stevens Canyon Road, which made this upside-down hike rather hot despite the afternoon shade I was getting along the trail.

Overall, I spent about an hour on the trail, but the uphill on the way back definitely made me sweat a lot despite the presence of snow in some spots.

Authorities

Martha Falls resides in Mt Rainier National Park near Puyallup in Pierce County, Washington. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Martha_Falls_001_06212021 - Looking down the Stevens Canyon Road as I started to walk towards the Wonderland Trail during my June 2021 visit
Martha_Falls_005_06212021 - Looking back at the context of the Wonderland Trail on the near side of the Stevens Canyon Road as well as its continuation on the other side
Martha_Falls_007_06212021 - Zoomed in look at the continuation of the Wonderland Trail on the other side of the Stevens Canyon Road
Martha_Falls_010_06212021 - As I headed downhill on the Wonderland Trail, I couldn't help but notice that there was still some patches of snow en route to Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_012_06212021 - Following the maintained Wonderland Trail and headed towards Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_019_06212021 - Contextual view of Stevens Canyon as I continued the descent to the Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_021_06212021 - Traversing one of the footbridges as I continued descending along the Wonderland Trail
Martha_Falls_028_06212021 - One of the switchbacks that I encountered in the final descent leading to the base of one of the tiers of Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_036_06212021 - Finally making it to the base of the nearest tier of Martha Falls after going nearly a mile along the Wonderland Trail
Martha_Falls_041_06212021 - Looking down at the sketchy one-sided log bridge that was actually being submerged by Unicorn Creek towards the far side of the bridge
Martha_Falls_044_06212021 - Horizontal context of the Wonderland Trail and the nearest tier of Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_045_06212021 - Looking across towards the far end of the bridge fronting Martha Falls
Martha_Falls_049_06212021 - Looking past the one-sided bridge upstream towards Walupt Falls
Martha_Falls_058_06212021 - Somewhat contextual view of Martha Falls and Unicorn Creek as seen from the Wonderland Trail
Martha_Falls_063_06212021 - It was a brutally long uphill hike on the return during my June 2021 visit
Martha_Falls_065_06212021 - Continuing the uphill hike up the Wonderland Trail to regain the car
Martha_Falls_069_06212021 - Looking across Stevens Canyon from the Wonderland Trail as I started to walk back to the car
Martha_Falls_074_06212021 - Still continuing the long uphill hike from Martha Falls to the Stevens Canyon Road
Martha_Falls_076_06212021 - Looking in the distance towards some attractive mountains as seen from the Wonderland Trail
Martha_Falls_079_06212021 - Finally making it back up to my parked car as I was ending this intimate excursion to Martha Falls in June 2021
Rainier_468_08252011 - View of Mt Rainier from 'The Bench' during our first visit to Martha Falls in August 2011
Rainier_454_08252011 - Context of the Martha Falls as seen across Stevens Canyon during our August 2011 visit
Rainier_457_08252011 - Another look at the Martha Falls from a different angle as seen along Stevens Canyon Road in August 2011
Rainier_458_08252011 - Context of the Martha Falls as seen from the spot where I took the photo at the top of this page
Rainier_465_08252011 - Looking down at the Wonderland Trail deep in Stevens Canyon
Rainier_466_08252011 - Zoomed in on what I believe is the true Martha Falls, which was the last tier of the cascade
Rainier_485_08252011 - Zoomed in on what I think is Fairy Falls, located between Reflection Lakes and 'The Bench'
Rainier_502_08252011 - Mt Rainier partially reflected in one of the Reflection Lakes


Martha Falls is accessed from the Stevens Canyon Road on the eastern slope of Mt Rainier.

In order to experience the waterfall in its entirety, I drove the Stevens Canyon Road about two miles east of what Gregory Plumb (author of the Pacific Northwest Waterfalls book we used) called “The Bench,” which is a hairpin turn near Bench Lake leading into Stevens Canyon or about four miles west of Box Canyon.

Martha_Falls_083_06212021 - Context of the Wonderland Trail and the Stevens Canyon Road
Context of the Wonderland Trail and the Stevens Canyon Road

As for getting close to the bottom of Martha Falls, I had to drive to a pullout roughly 0.8-mile north of “The Bench”.

This pullout on the right side of the Stevens Canyon Road as I descended (heading north) was fairly long so I’d imagine there was ample parking since most people don’t bother to stop here.

After parking the car, I just had to walk a few paces downhill to reach the spot where the Wonderland Trail crossed the Stevens Canyon Road.

As for geographical context, the Nisqually Entrance of Mt Rainier was 86 miles (supposedly under 2 hours drive) from Seattle and 50 miles (supposedly a little over an hour drive) from Puyallup. Of course with all the traffic restrictions and traffic lights, the reality was that it w at least 30-60 minutes more than what I’m quoting above.

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Downstream to upstream sweep of Martha Falls ending with its context next to trail steps


360 degree sweep from the one-sided bridge in the middle of Martha Creek


Fixated on the distant lower falls in motion before zooming out and revealing its full context. This was from the official pullout.


Top down sweep of falls starting with a peak then ending at its partial base with the sound of car whizzing by.

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Tagged with: mt rainier, mount rainier, national park, stevens canyon, washington, waterfall, lewis, the bench, box canyon, wonderland trail



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Martha Falls November 15, 2012 10:21 pm by Ronald Grant - For a long time Martha Falls really confused me. I had taken pictures from a pullout on the Stevens Canyon highway and from the wonderland trail. The two groups of pictures were definately not the same falls. I finally got returned to that pullout, walked along the shoulder for a ways (100 Yds.?) and got… ...Read More

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