Martha Falls was a waterfall that we got to see from a distance across Stevens Canyon on the southeastern slopes of Mt Rainier. Even though we saw a tiny trail along the Stevens River deep in the canyon from our vantage point, we had run out of time and weren’t about to go for a long walk going into the canyon to get to its base and then climb back out with darkness looming.
Despite the very distant look-but-don’t-touch view of the falls, we could appreciate its height as well as its context. I actually think the named part of the falls only referred to its last tier, where Unicorn Creek looked like it plunged maybe 125ft in the shadowy depths of the canyon. I’m sure the Wonderland Trail down below would’ve yielded much more satisfying views of this bottom tier alone as well as other waterfalls, but we can’t really say more about it since we didn’t do it.
Getting the full view you see at the top of this page required me to walk along the Stevens Canyon Road until most of the cascade revealed itself. This required some caution since there wasn’t much space on the miniscule shoulder of the road, which became an issue when cars were passing by. The official pullout with some signage about glaciers only revealed an angled view of the bottom tier and was far less satisfying than the view you see at the top of this page.
The pullouts for Martha Falls are 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 leading into Stevens Canyon or about four miles west of Box Canyon.
Plumb notes that it’s possible to access the Wonderland Trail 0.8 miles north of “The Bench” on the east side of the road. We’ll have to try this option next time.
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 took at least 30-60 minutes more than what I’m quoting above.
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