Sol Duc Falls

Olympic National Park / Clallam County, Washington, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2
Sol Duc Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Sol Duc Falls probably was the one waterfall that best embodied the rainforest feel of Olympic National Park as far as we were concerned. I've also seen this waterfall referred to as Soleduck Falls probably since it was on the Soleduck River. Don't ask me why the falls was spelled one way and the river was spelled some other way.

Anyways, I had trouble trying to figure out what was it about this waterfall that seemed to appropriate for the lush rainforest settings. Was it the everpresent ferns flanking both the trail and the creek? Was it the tall trees towering over us throughout the trail? Or was it the moss growing all along the trail as well as on the trees?

Indeed, we also noticed that this was one of those rare instances where the waterfall experience seemed to be enhanced when it was misty (or even raining like it was during our visit) as opposed to sunny. It was almost as if the overcast skies and the moisture in the air brought out the green in the foliage even more. Plus, the density of tall trees around us provided just enough of a canopy so as to not make this hike a miserably drenching experience.

A different look at Sol Duc Falls Given that the trail through this forest was a short and mostly flat 2-mile return hike, it was easy for Julie to imagine Edward and Bella (from the Twilight saga) flying amongst the tall trees above us, or for my eyes to wander upwards as I gazed forward following the trail contour before letting the vertical lines from the trees take over my imagination and play tricks with my mind.

Sol Duc Falls was also a pretty waterfall itself though it won't win any prizes for tallest nor most powerful. Indeed, it was more about the atmosphere and its unusual segmented shape as it split into three nearly parallel streams before plunging around 40ft or so into a narrow gorge where its waters reconverged and turbulently rushed its way further downstream.

We were able to see this action directly from a footbridge spanning this gorge (getting a little bit sprayed in the process) as well as from a few overlooks just on the other side of the bridge near some overlooks right at the brink of the falls.

Perhaps that was why it wasn't surprising to us that we had seen numerous long exposure post cards or large format posters of this falls shot in many different ways. It just seemed to be a favorite subject for photographers let alone Nature lovers.

Maybe the Native Americans from this area knew something as the term Sol Duc meant something like "magic waters."




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Sol Duc Falls as seen from the footbridge across the gorgeSol Duc Falls as seen from the footbridge across the gorge
Sol Duc Falls was in Olympic National Park, which itself comprised a large part of the Olympic Peninsula. Also on the peninsula was Ruby Beach (shown here) showcasing Washington's wild west coastSol Duc Falls was in Olympic National Park, which itself comprised a large part of the Olympic Peninsula. Also on the peninsula was Ruby Beach (shown here) showcasing Washington's wild west coast
To get between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, we took the Bainbridge Island ferry where we got nice views of Seattle's skylineTo get between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, we took the Bainbridge Island ferry where we got nice views of Seattle's skyline
Julie in rain gear on the trail to the falls flanked by tall treesJulie in rain gear on the trail to the falls flanked by tall trees

Easy to gaze upwards towards the top of the trees hereEasy to gaze upwards towards the top of the trees here

A little brown contrasting the green as we crossed some creek over this bridgeA little brown contrasting the green as we crossed some creek over this bridge

Julie dwarfed by the tall trees flanking usJulie dwarfed by the tall trees flanking us

Following the railings as we approached the bridge fronting Sol Duc FallsFollowing the railings as we approached the bridge fronting Sol Duc Falls

The magically green scene as we looked downstream from the bridgeThe magically green scene as we looked downstream from the bridge

The falls itself from the far side of the bridgeThe falls itself from the far side of the bridge

Looking down to where the stream had split before making its plunge as the Sol Duc FallsLooking down to where the stream had split before making its plunge as the Sol Duc Falls

Looking downstream towards Julie standing on the footbridge right in front of the fallsLooking downstream towards Julie standing on the footbridge right in front of the falls

Context of the viewpoints near the brink of Sol Duc FallsContext of the viewpoints near the brink of the falls


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Top down sweep starting with the falls then ending downstream from the bridge


Right to left sweep starting upstream of the falls and ending downstream of the falls as seen from one of the adjacent overlooks


Top down sweep of Sol Duc Falls then sweeping to the left ending at the wooden railings


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The trailhead for this falls is at the very end of the Soleduck Road (or Sol Duc Hot Springs Road), which is about 1.5 miles beyond the busy Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. There is an entrance fee station along Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

There also happened to be some road work causing some delays during our visit in August 2011. I'm not sure if this is due to constant maintenance necessary to keep the road in decent shape or if this was a one-off situation.

The turnoff for Sol Duc Hot Springs Road is about a little over 8 miles west of the Storm King Visitor Center turnoff along the US101. It's also about 28 miles west of Port Angeles or 28 miles east of Forks along the same highway.

For context, Port Angeles was about 57 miles (over an hour drive) northeast of Forks and 82 miles (or 2.5 hours drive including a ferry ride [so it would take more time than this]) from Seattle.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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Sol Duc Falls - Olympic National Park 
After a short hike, I reached Sol Duc Falls in the heart of the Olympic National Park. It was the second week in July, and the weather was nice and …

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