Hiker killed by falling tree on popular Washington waterfall trail

A fallen tree blocks a hiking trail
The 39-year-old hiker was walking along the scenic route with a group of friends when the tragedy occurred (Image credit: Dominik Staniek / EyeEm)

A woman has been killed by a falling tree while hiking on a popular trail in Washington State. The incident occurred close to where a hiker was killed by a falling tree in 2022 in nearby Olympic National Park when it fell on his tent while he was sleeping. 

According to a news release by Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, 39-year-old Allyson Fredericksen was hiking at Dickerson Falls in the Kitsap Peninsula when the tragedy occurred. Fredericksen was reportedly hiking with a group but was the only party struck by the tree. Another member of her group alerted emergency services and crews were dispatched around 2 p.m.

However, before they arrived at the scene, they received another call from a nurse who reported Fredericksen had succumbed to her injuries. The rescue team assembled at the upper waterfall area where the rescue operation became a challenging recovery mission.

"A plan was formed to recover the female victim as she was approximately 100 yards downstream in the creek and pinned by a fallen tree," states the release.

Because of the location of Fredericksen, the team launched what they describe as a "tech rescue recovery" using a basket and a low-angle rope system to bring her body up to the main road for access.

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office says that an official cause of death is pending and has announced it does not deem the incident to be suspicious.

Dickerson Falls is the largest and uppermost of a series of three waterfalls located on private land in Dickerson Creek. It drops 50 feet in two separate steps and is extremely scenic in a state known for its beautiful waterfall hikes. Reached via a 2.3-mile easy trail, it is a popular hike in the area which is directly across the Pudget Sound from Seattle.

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park

Washington state is known for its many beautiful waterfall hikes (Image credit: Mark Newman)

What's your risk of a falling tree as a hiker?

Your risk of being struck by a falling tree  – also known as a hazard tree  – on a hike is very small, but it does happen. In 2019, a 28-year-old hiker was killed by a falling redwood in Muir Woods National Monument outside of San Francisco, while in August of 2022, a falling tree limb in Huntsville, AL struck and killed a 22-year-old hiker. There are documented deaths from hazard trees on several major hiking trails across the country including the Pacific Crest Trail, the Colorado Trail and the Appalachian Trail.

Though hazard trees are often associated with windy weather, there are other reasons why a tree might become structurally unsound, and not all of them are easy to spot with the naked eye. Diseases and rot can plague trees that appear healthy on the outside – a rotting base was responsible for a tree that killed a German hiker on the PCT back in 2019. A dead tree often falls onto another tree which can compromise the roots of that healthy tree, while heavy rains can make the roots of a healthy tree unsound enough to fell it

Though it may not always be possible to protect yourself from hazard trees on a hike, it's still vital to check the weather forecast, use clearings to stop for breaks, avoid hiking in areas with dense patches of dead trees such as burn scars and beetle kill areas and report the GPS coordinates of hazard trees you encounter to local authorities. Learn more in our article on hazard trees.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.