Washington State and the Pacific Northwest are known for their waterfalls. Think Snoqualmie Falls, Multnomah Falls on the Columbia River or the lesser known but equally majestic Wallace Falls on the way to Stevens Pass in the Cascades. But Bainbridge Island?
Ok, admittedly the island’s falls are not exactly torrents of water streaming over some 200-foot-high precipice, but nevertheless we do have a pair of real falls gushing water on Bainbridge. Seriously, we’re not pulling your leg!
Drive or bike down Country Club Road on the island’s south end, past Toe Jam Hill, through a pot-holed filled section of roadway, and around a hairy nearly 90-degree turn to the left. Then slowly skirt by an eroding section of road that is dotted with large orange safety barrels, and you’ll eventually come upon the falls. They’re not really obvious at first, being located as they are on a steep bank to the West, or to your right if you are driving or riding south.
If you are in your car, you’re not likely to see this elusive bit of island nature. They are best seen on foot. Or, if you are biking, make the effort to stop and look upward. You’ll discover them more by sound than sight.
The two separate sets of falls appear to originate on land that might have been part of the old Port Blakely Mill Co. property that was divided up years ago. Some of that pristine land became Islandwood—a 230-plus acre preserve dedicated to teaching underprivileged kids about nature— while much of the rest was turned into 20-acre parcels and high-end housing.
You have to crane your neck a bit around some vegetation to see the falls, but they are there, dropping an estimated 30-50 feet off the edge of the hillside. They are more-or-less ribbons of water rolling down the side of the embankment and forming a stream that spills into a culvert on the side of the road. The falls are approximately 100-to-150 yards apart, with the first one located closer to the eroding roadway.
Like most falls, ours are a distinctly late autumn, winter, and early spring phenomenon on the island, resuscitated by the heavier rains we get from November to March.
A bonus for any search of Bainbridge Falls is the incredible view of the Seattle Skyline you’ll see from that stretch of Country Club Road, along with the snow-covered Cascade peaks in the distance. Stay there long enough and you’ll likely see a ferry boat steaming into or out of Eagle Harbor or freighters, loaded with cargo, heading to Seattle, Tacoma or Olympia ports.
You may even be lucky enough to spy an eagle or two on some of the surrounding Douglas Fir trees, and Cormorants, Mallarts, Naragansars and other shorebirds swimming about in the nearby waters.
Good luck finding the falls. Even if you don’t, the trek to this gorgeous little piece of the island is worth the journey.
*Images by Kevin Dwyer