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Coal Creek Falls

Bellevue, WA

Hiking from Red Town Trailhead to Coal Creek Falls


And there was water!

Last time I hiked to Coal Creek Falls from Red Town Trailhead was last summer, and the waterfall was barely a trickle. Pretty anticlimactic for a hot summer hike. I was determined to go again sometime during our rainy season (anytime other than summer) to see a real waterfall. That day finally came today. And it was spectacular! I could hear the falls a little while before I approached it, so I knew there would be lots of water this time. Even the creek had running water.

Today was a chilly day, low 40s. But it was a rare, non-rainy, sunny Saturday. I had no major errands to run, so I decided today was the day. I had my new winter walking hat that Hubby got me for Christmas, my 20 year old hiking boots, and my trusty Camelbak. I loaded the dog into the car, and we were off.

Apparently everyone else decided to behold the winter waterfall that day, too. The parking lot was jam packed with people parked in every nook and cranny they could squeeze their SUVs into. I love this trailhead, too. But on the next nice Saturday, I might opt for a different Cougar Mountain parking lot.

I'm not climbing on those moss-covered rocks!

This time around I took the high road rather than the low road. No big difference, as I knew I would loop back on the low road anyway. It was a steady climb up for a while and then down into the falls. Keeping a decent clip, the cold didn't bother me too much.

That wool hat really does make a difference though. My ears are the worst for enduring the cold. This hat kept me very comfortable. Not too hot during the inclines and comfortably warm during the rest at the falls.

When I finally made it to the falls, it was bustling with fellow water worshipers. Some were scaling the rocks. Others, like me, were playing it safe at the sidelines. There is a small bridge that crosses over the creek that the waterfall creates. That was a popular spot. It was a challenge to get a clear picture of the falls without people in it. I waited there mostly to get my shot. There wasn't much for lounging spots, so most people who weren't scaling the rocks were just crowded around the bridge.

Though small, this beautiful falls was definitely worth the mile and a half hike to see. I'm so spoiled by these local wonders that I don't go to my old favorites like Wallace Falls or Twin Falls anymore. Coal Creek Falls is just one of several waterfalls on Cougar Mountain. I will have to check out the others before the summer dries them up again.

A Three Mile Tour

Remember, if you decide to hike Cougar Mountain, print out a trail map and bring it with you. I never leave home without it. I met another group of people today walking around with their map. They learned the hard way, as I did. Getting lost for a few hours on Cougar Mountain is quite an experience. Just do an internet search for "Cougar Mountain trail map" to download the latest map PDF. It will show you how all the trails connect, and you can use the map in conjunction with the signs on the trail to navigate the mountain.

The loop I took (highlighted in yellow) was a little over 3 miles roundtrip. It took me about 1-1/2 hours to hike it, including the relax time at the falls. I started around 12:45pm and got out of there about 2:20pm. That gave me enough time to run a few small errands before heading home to cook dinner.

I would say it is a decent beginner hike where you do get a workout, but it's relatively short and your feet and legs are still quite functional afterwards. I used my Samsung Health phone app to measure my trip. According to the app, I only burned 444 calories. Not much more than I could've burned after 30 minutes on my stationary exercise bike. But it was nice to get out, enjoy the sunshine and breath the fresh air.

Red Town Trailhead Parking Lot

Address: 7501 Lakemont Blvd SE, Bellevue, WA 98006

The parking lot cleared out a little by about 2:20pm, when I got done with my hike.

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