Headed north on the Glenn Highway, just beyond Mirror Lake there is a wonderful mini-hike called Thunderbird Falls. There will be signs along the Glenn Highway indicating that you have a mile to go before the Thunderbird Falls exit. There is a parking area with information about hiking and other outdoor activities in the area. Not thirty steps up the trail, a bit hidden from view from the parking lot, rests a set of park toilets – nothing more than a state-of-the-art outhouse, but great to find when the only alternative is the woods.
The trail is only a mile long. There is a quick ascent that will leave new hikers winded, but after the first hundred yards the trail becomes a gentle, well maintained path. At the half-way point there is a deck that overlooks the Thunderbird Creek gorge, an amazing view of the effects a glacier and its rivers can have on rock. Rest if you must here, but be sure to finish the walk to the falls. A gentle downhill slope takes you to a fork in the paths. The path to the right will bring you to a boardwalk that leads to a spectacular view of Thunderbird Falls. This is a terrific photo opportunity and you will tell your friends and relatives that you “hiked in” to take this shot.
If you still have energy, take the left path down to Thunderbird Creek. It is steep, but easy enough for even very young children if they take it slow. At the bottom of the trail next to the creek you will find “ear tree.” When you feel like nobody else will listen to you, this tree will! Inspect the creek. You may find a pet rock who would love to go back to your cozy house. Also, the creek is shallow and clear enough to spot salmon making their way up to spawn. Claimjumper believes that the salmon can swim up the falls because it has enough “stairs” for them to jump one to the next. I have never seen this, but it would be an amazing feat. Be sure not to harass the fish. If they are going to make a run for it they will need all the strength they can muster.
Last Visited: June 1999