Olympic National Park is home to several short hikes with magnificent payoffs. The 1.6-mile trek to-and-from Sol Duc Falls is near the top of Olympic NP's long list of great trails. The hike is well-marked, has minimal elevation gain, is rated as "easy," and the payoff at Sol Duc Falls is an epic stunner. It is best used between May and September. If you're traveling to Olympic NP, you should not pass up this hike.
For additional information on visiting Olympic NP, visit the trip itinerary page on 7daytrip.com!
Sol Duc Hot Springs Road branches off of the Olympic Highway (Hwy 101) just after Crescent Lake when traveling from Port Angeles towards Forks. After turning onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Rd., drive approximately 14-miles to the Sol Duc Trailhead (about 30-minutes). Along the way you will pass a park entrance, so have your National Park Pass ready.
12-miles along there will be a turn-off for the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Feel free to check it out and/or take a quick restroom break. The air near the resort has a foul smell due to the sulfur content of the nearby hot springs.
Continue another 2-miles to the Sol Duc Trailhead, where there should be ample parking. Gather your day-pack with a Sawyer filter or Lifestraw (the river water is fresh and tasty), then walk to the trailhead to start the hike.
The hike begins with a short-lived down-sloped grade through some thick forest. There are some really awesome trees that have formed in odd shapes, so be on the lookout. Black-tail deer also frequent the trail. The elevation profile from AllTrails is below:
About 1/8-mile in you'll start an uphill trudge of about 150-feet over a ¼-mile span. During that time you will cross a short bridge with a serene and beautiful waterfall flowing gently downhill. We hung out here for several minutes, hiked up the hill away from the crowds, and took a moment to take in the scene. This was probably my favorite feature of the hike, and it makes for a great long-exposure photo opportunity.
The next half-mile is not particularly interesting. You hike along relatively flat trails through thick forest, sometimes on the edge of a steep slope. Be on the look-out for cool trees, squirrels, and other wildlife. As you approach Sol Duc Falls you will start to hear the roar of the waterfall from pretty far up the trail.
You will then hike downhill to a bridge that passes over the Sol Duc River over-top of Sol Duc Falls. There are some great vantage points on the far side of the bridge and at the brink of the falls as well. I took the opportunity to hike upstream a good ways and fill up my Lifestraw with water from the river (I'm weird that way I guess?). Enjoy the waterfall before hiking 0.8-miles back to your car.
Be sure to check out the full trip itinerary, and thanks for reading!