If you’re heading to the Olympic Peninsula, and you’ve navigated through Seattle traffic, twiddled your thumbs while waiting for the ferry, and need a place to destress before continuing, Ludlow Falls is it. 

Located in Port Ludlow, just across the Hood Canal Bridge, this small waterfall (about 25 feet) and well-designed half-mile interpretive nature trail loop is a good place to stop.  The trail is short, and little elevation gain (about 125 feet), but there are some significant stairs next to the waterfall. Pet friendly for leashed dogs. To be honest, it’s more of a series of small cascades rather than a drop as most people would think of a waterfall.

Easy to get to, with about 10 parking spots (depending on how cooperatively people park), though it sits right behind the Port Ludlow Association corporate building with more parking there.

Ludlow Falls Interpretive trail entrance

Being January, not much in the way of flowering anything, and even this snowberry bush beside the trailhead sign is reaching the end of its season.  Though from the weathered look of the sign, it seems as though the “temporary” entrance has been there a while.

Stroll out of your car and down this path to the interpretive trail. The trail, however, is not quite so immaculately groomed. Not difficult to navigate, the trail itself is bark mulch, which by this time of year has become a bit muddy in spots, and some exposed tree roots.

The trail is well marked, with a number of signs along the way providing both historical and botanical information.  There are benches and picnic tables here and there along the way, providing a place to sit and listen to the sounds of the rushing water, the bird calls, and just unwind.

I came across some hair ice as I walked.  Hair ice (also known as ice wool or frost beard) is ice that forms on moist, rotting wood from broadleaf trees when temperatures are slightly below freezing and the air is humid. Oh – and between latitudes of 45 and 55 degrees. In other words, I lucked out today.

licorice fern

Even in winter, there’s so much green, like these licorice ferns growing up the side of a cedar tree. While not quite the drenching of 12 to 14 feet of rain a year that the temperate rain forest on the west side valleys of the Olympic National Park get, we’re not exactly dry here either!

Ludlow Creek

Winding around, a few ups and downs and I ended up at Ludlow Creek.  Ludlow Falls separates two distinct types of fish — the stream above the falls is full of cutthroat and brook trout, while coho and chum salmon enter the stream below the falls to spawn in the gravel from October to December.  (Thanks informational sign!)

I decided to sit for a few minutes and enjoy the rushing water.  You can just see the bottom of the falls in the far back of the above photo.

The trail doesn’t take you to the bottom of Ludlow Falls, just off to one side. If you don’t mind wet socks and muddy feet, you can clamber down to the river, but it was far too cold today to even think about it!

Stairs leading up to Ludlow Falls

The only stairs to deal with lead up to the falls. Almost there!

Stairs leading up to Ludlow Falls

The upper section of Ludlow Falls.


70 Breaker Ln, Port Ludlow, WA 98365