Kids who have attended outdoor school at the Cispus Learning Center know all about this waterfall you can hike behind, just one mile from the learning center itself.
Covel Creek Falls impressively spills over a rock outcropping ahead of the Covel Creek Trail, leaving hikers with a beautiful view of the forested area ahead while at the same time looking out at the cascading water and providing a powerful yet peaceful soundtrack of nature at work.
You'll want to follow the signs to Cispus Center from Cispus Road just south of Randle, then find a parking spot and head on into the Covel Creek Falls Trail. The hike meanders through old-growth forest, then crosses the stream at two points before taking hikers up a series of switchbacks. It's rigorous, and you'll want to take a couple breaks, but the reward at the end is the afore-mentioned waterfall that makes the entire trip to East Lewis County so worth it.
Another waterfall in the immediate area, Angel Falls, is impressive in its formation as it cascades over a series of granite slabs before reaching Covel Creek. Turn around at Covel Creek Falls and continue straight on that trail instead of turning left to get back to Cispus. Hang another right at the T and you'll be at Angel Falls in no time.
Hikers wishing for some added difficulty to the hike can continue up the Covel Creek Trail past the Covel Creek Falls, then take a left at the fork in the trail about a mile up to reach Angel Falls. Continue on the trail to keep ascending toward Burley Mountain, a historic fire lookout with sweeping views of the Cowlitz Valley, Cascades and more. NOTE: Please be careful if you're heading past Covel Creek Falls on the trail as the trail thins out significantly and there are some steep grades on both the trail and the edges of it.
Allow 3-4 hours for the entire Covel Creek to Angel Falls hike if you're taking the whole family. Parking is available at or near the Cispus Learning Center; it's best to stop in the main office to seek permission to park on their grounds.