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.
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.”
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.
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