17-Year-Old Hiker Killed After Slipping Off of 125-Foot Waterfall in Washington

by Craig Garrett
Keekwulee Falls - stock photo

Washington sheriff’s officials relayed that a 17-year-old hiker lost his life after falling from a Snoqualmie Pass waterfall. The teen’s fatal fall was called in to 911 at 8 a.m. last Saturday, October 9th, The News Tribune reports. He had been trekking on the Denny Creek Trail when he tumbled and fell on Keekwulee Falls, authorities said.

KCPQ reported that the waterfall, located just west of the pass, has two tiers with a combined height of 125 feet. The taller drop is 90 feet high. Veteran hiker Paul Otteni weighed in on the trail to KING5. “Treat every decision with care when you’re out in the wild,” he said. “You could make a mistake, you could slip, you could fall, there’s always the opportunity to get hurt and, yeah, this obviously is a terrible thing to happen,” Otteni said.

The Tacoma News Tribune’s description of the Denny Creek Trail claims it is an easy, but an occasionally difficult path for hikers. “While visitors may enjoy themselves in the water at Denny Creek, they should be conscious of potential risks,” the article cautions. “Rocks are slippery and dangerous.” Keekwulee Falls provides a stunning view that is easily accessible, according to the Washington Trails Association.

More about the trail that the teen hiker was on

This is a well-traveled path thanks to its easy, family-friendly grade, which includes some fantastic stops. The natural water slide area at Denny Creek is a must-see for hikers. Keekwulee Falls provides an amazing vista that’s easily accessible. Snowshoe Falls may be tough to find and view from the trail, but it’s also a stunning natural wonder in its own right.

The Denny Creek area was named after Arthur A. Denny, the leader of a group of settlers known as the Denny Party. The members of this party were some of Seattle’s original non-native people who had filed mining claims in the area.

The old-growth forest on the Denny Creek trail envelops you as soon as you begin hiking. The coniferous trees give a beautiful canopy to walk on the three-foot-wide path, which is sometimes rocky and rooty. But beware of the devil’s club…This trail commonly has the noxious weed growing alongside it, ready to sting unsuspecting hikers.

With construction personnel here in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the WTA has been working hard to fix drainage problems on this route. The boardwalks, crib walls, culverts, drainage ditches, and rock walls all over the route are evidence of this effort. These structures were built to keep the trail clean of water and mud, and in general, they are succeeding.

The falls have two drops, with a combined height of 125 feet; the taller of the two plunges is 90 feet. It’s fed by runoff and reaches its maximum in April to July. For a wonderful lunch spot with an incredible view, go ashore at this point on the route. This makes for a five-mile journey with 803 feet of elevation gain if you make it your turnaround point.