While at Olympic National Park with the In My Backyard team, Jimi (our graduate student intern from the University of Washington) and I hiked the Sol Duc Falls trail. Being only .8 miles one way, the trail is quite short. However, once you reach the falls, there are other trails you can continue onto if you desire a longer hike. The Sol Duc Falls trail is relatively flat and short, but it is still beautiful. Throughout the hike we even stumbled upon several small creeks and waterfalls before reaching the bigger falls. Despite being a popular and at times crowded trail, the tall trees and moss covered everything help make the trail feel secluded and small. While on it, you feel as though you are in the heart of the wilderness, when in reality you are super close to the parking lot.
When you reach the falls, feel the mist on your skin and hear the rush of powerful water, you can look over the falls on a large bridge or, once across, you can gaze at the falls over the railings. The falls are quite majestic. The rock that the water spills over is jet black which contrasts with the occasional patches of bright green moss. The rocks above the falls are fascinating as well. I’m not joking; these rocks are actually super cool. The rocks are smooth and curved into modern style shapes. My guess is that the water that rushed to the falls was so powerful that it weathered or eroded the rocks into these cool shapes.
Once you are finished basking in the mist of the waterfall, there are several options to continue your day. The hike to the falls is pretty short and easy so I recommend you hang around to get the full experience of the area. One option is to walk upstream a bit. There isn’t always an actual trail here, but trust me it is navigable and the plants are spread out and easy to avoid. In this direction, there are better spots to reach the water level and hop on the rocks. The water is also much calmer upstream and though swimming in the water isn’t very possible (super cold and shallow), it is fun to just hang out on the rocks. There are also some good lunch spots upstream.
The other option is to follow the downstream path which takes you to a trail called Lover’s Lane. This trail is a 6 mile loop that begins at the Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort, passes the Sol Duc Falls and loops back to the resort on the other side of the river. Jimi and I didn’t have time to complete the full six miles, but we went about a mile into the trail. This trail is gorgeous. It is popular but far less crowded than the Sol Duc Falls trail. During our time on the trail we only ran into one other group. The trail follows the water expelled from the falls for a while, but eventually the trail becomes more secluded and into the woods. At one point, there is a smaller waterfall that is absolutely beautiful. It was about a mile from the Sol Duc Falls. There is a bridge made of a tree that crosses this waterfall. I would highly recommend visiting this area.
Overall the Sol Duc Falls trail makes for an easy and rewarding hike. My advice for the trail would be to go earlier in the morning. I believe we went around 11am, but I would suggest earlier because when we finally hiked back around 2pm the trail was very crowded.
– Claire Parchem, SCA Intern