A Trek Through the Sol Duc Rainforest
Located on the western side of the Olympic National Park, Sol Duc is believed to be an Indian term meaning sparkling water—which is appropriate for an area so abundant with crystal-clear H2O.
For over 100 years people have been flocking to the Sol Duc Hot Springs for pleasure and health benefits. The springs and their curative properties were well-known to the Quileutes and other inhabitants of the Olympic Peninsula.
Old-growth forest and snowy peaks populate the Sol Duc landscape, while the Sol Duc River serves as a key highway for coho salmon running through the valley and ascending to the lakes and headwaters in the surrounding mountains.
The Sol Duc Trail has two trailheads…the shortest approach to Sol Duc Falls is from the end of the Sol Duc River Road. The other approach is from the Sol Duc Campground near the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. The trail through old-growth forest of Douglas fir is wide and easy to hike, with modest elevation gains. The Sol Duc trail continues climbing to intersect the Appleton Pass trail at five miles and eventually reaches the High Divide at eight and a half miles.
You might forget what season it is when you visit Sol Duc Falls as very little light makes it through the dense canopy. The falls don’t get much sun, but when streaks of sunlight shine through the somber trees, it can be a tranquil moment as you can see in the video as I relax in my hammock. With or without sun, there is an unbridled beauty that no season of the year can confine.
Sol Duc Falls is certainly the highlight of the trek through the forest, however there are many other attractions that will greet you along the way. Two points of interest to be aware of are the Salmon Cascades, and the Ancient Groves Nature Trail. The forest in Sol Duc is considered to be the finest in the Olympic National Park…that I would have to concur.
Getting to the Sol Duc entrance of the park is quite easy; from Port Angeles, drive west about 27 miles along the very scenic Highway 101, then make a left on to Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. The Sol Duc Ranger Station is about 12 miles from Hwy. 101. The end of the road is just under 14 miles.