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Green Lake Falls
   Whatcom County, Washington, United States

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This waterfall has been surveyed, mapped and measured in person by the World Waterfall Database.
Photo of Green Lake Falls Green Lake Falls is the largest waterfall in the Bacon Creek basin and one of the largest waterfalls in the state of Washington. The falls occur as Green Lake’s outlet stream rolls over the side of the glacially carved upper valley of Bacon Creek and veils, cascades and plunges around 980 feet. The drop begins with a broad, steep sliding veil type horsetail fall where the creek runs across slightly channeled granite. A portion of the creek is diverted into a distinct channel which features a powerful roostertail at its immediate top, with the majority of the creek sliding down the main channel. This drop measures approximately 320 feet in height and about 120 feet wide. At the base of the veiling drop, the creek immediately reverts to a more gradual set of cascades without pause, accounting for another 200 or so feet in elevation, before spreading out across a broad shelf and dropping over the second substantial part of the falls, a roughly 460-foot tall sheer plunge-into-horsetail style drop, which consistently stretches 200-feet wide, and during high water periods can span as much as 360 feet in width due to multiple additional channels forming.

The stream along which Green Lake Falls occurs is a significant but unnamed branch of Bacon Creek which heads in the Green Lake Glacier on Bacon Peak. The basin which the falls drain lies at elevations at or above 4200 feet above sea level and receives heavy snow fall during the winter months. Coupled with the substantial size of the glacier and Green Lake itself, the volume of water which can be present in the stream during the peak of melt season can be considerable, and this helps to solidify Green Lake Falls as one of the most significant waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, if not the United States. Like most streams in the northwest, during the late summer months the volume of water in the falls will drop considerably from its peak spring and early summer flows, but the presence of the glacier and lakes ensure that the falls retain a consistently moderate to above moderate flow throughout the year.

Due to the rugged terrain and fairly remote location Green Lake Falls is exceptionally difficult to access, let alone observe and this made it quite difficult for us to obtain much of the information needed to provide an accurate survey of the falls. Height figures and dimensional measurements presented in this survey report were obtained via both topographic map data and aerial images available on Google Earth and Bing Maps and should be considered approximate (though well within a reasonable representation of reality).

HISTORY AND NAMES


  • Green Lake Falls is the Unofficial name of this waterfall


Our thoughts


Without being able to approach Green Lake Falls closely it remains difficult to truly appreciate just how immense this waterfall is. When we were able to partially survey the falls in September 2012, we were only afforded side views of the falls from a distance of over a mile away, and were foiled from getting closer views by the rugged terrain of the upper Bacon Creek valley. Even from that far away the falls stand out against the massive scale of the landscape, but without being able to approach the base of the falls there is little tangible connection to just how big and powerful the falls are. We hope to make our way to the base of the falls eventually to experience what is unquestionably one of the best waterfalls in North America up close.

Location and directions


Green Lake Falls is located about one-third of a mile downstream from the outlet of Green Lake in North Cascades National Park. There are no trails into the area and viewing the falls in any way will likely require at least two days (or more) of difficult cross-country hiking. The falls are visible from the ridge south of Hagan Mountain in the vicinity of Upper Nert Lake (unnamed on the topo maps), from the ridge line immediately south of Lower Berdeen Lake around the 4900 foot level, and most likely from the ridge extending southwest from the summit of Interloper Peak (also unnamed on maps). The base of the falls should be accessible via a roughly four and a half-mile long bushwhack from the Bacon Creek Road, however we anticipate this route to be difficult enough to require two days of travel itself due to the extremely thick brush lining the valley floor, as well as requiring fords of two large streams and possible cliff bands obstructing further progress up the valley.

Green Lake Falls is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

Additional Nearby Waterfalls


Name of Waterfall Distance
Upper Green Lake Falls 0.26 mi / 0.42 km
Bacon Lake Falls 0.88 mi / 1.41 km
Berdeen Falls 1.05 mi / 1.67 km
Middle Berdeen Falls 1.3 mi / 2.07 km
Unnamed Waterfall 1.41 mi / 2.26 km
Upper Berdeen Falls 1.56 mi / 2.5 km
Electric Butte Falls 2.11 mi / 3.38 km
Unnamed Waterfall 2.16 mi / 3.46 km
Blum Basin Falls 2.87 mi / 4.59 km
Heather Creek Falls 3.18 mi / 5.09 km

 

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Photo of Green Lake Falls Photo of Green Lake Falls Photo of Green Lake Falls Photo of Green Lake Falls

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Photography tips


The falls face east and will see direct sunlight for the first half of the day. Because the falls are located deep within the valley, expect the whole drop to be in the shade by mid afternoon hours (this may make photography from the base of the falls difficult considering the likelihood of an epic volume of spray). From the distant, cross valley views a telephoto lens of 200-300mm is needed to achieve a well framed shot.

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User comments


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