Of the many hiking trails near North Bend, Washington, the trip to Franklin Falls is one of the most beautiful and most popular. It's a two-mile round trip with only one fairly short steep section, which makes it accessible for toddlers and senior citizens as well. Along the sometimes muddy trail which follows the waters of Denny Creek, you'll see plenty of forest, stumps of old growth trees, and snags filled with holes made by feeding woodpeckers and flickers.
Just when you begin to tire, the waterfall appears, reached by a slippery climb down rocks. You can wade or rock hop across the stream and get close enough to be drenched by the spray from the falls.
To reach the trail head, drive I-90 east of North Bend to exit 47, and turn north at the exit ramp, cross the interstate and turn right at the next crossroad. In a quarter of a mile, turn left on Denny Creek Road and continue 2.5 miles. Just beyond the Denny Creek Campground, turn left into the parking area where you'll park before the bridge and find the trail head on the east side of the road. To park here, you'll need the Northwest Forest Pass, not the Discover Pass. For information on the Northwest Forest Pass, see http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev2_...
North Bend is not only the locus of many hiking trails, but also the home of an outlet mall. Once you've satisfied your nature yearnings, you can head back into town and search for bargains--maybe some hiking gear at Eddie Bauer. Or just have dessert at George's Bakery where the ceiling and walls are covered with aprons and certificates claiming that the place has been judged the best dessert spot in North Bend for years.