Sol Duc Falls

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

About Sol Duc Falls


Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2011-08-22
Date last visited: 2011-08-22

Waterfall Latitude: 47.95075
Waterfall Longitude: -123.81564

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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.

Olympic_Peninsula_182_08222011 - Sol Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls

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 so 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?

Olympic_Peninsula_192_08222011 - Looking down over the brink of Sol Duc Falls from its closest overlook
Looking down over the brink of Sol Duc Falls from its closest overlook

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 in the rain.

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.

Olympic_Peninsula_171_08222011 - Julie following the railings as she approached a footbridge up ahead while enjoying the thick forest canopy sheltering us from the rain on our hike to Sol Duc Falls
Julie following the railings as she approached a footbridge up ahead while enjoying the thick forest canopy sheltering us from the rain on our hike to Sol Duc Falls

In my case, it was easy for my eyes to wander upwards as I would gaze 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 dropping some 40ft into a narrow gorge.

The Soleduck River reconverged within the gorge as it turbulently rushed its way further downstream.

Olympic_Peninsula_179_08222011 - Looking downstream from Sol Duc Falls at the Sole Duck River meandering amongst the lush greenery of the Olympic Rainforest
Looking downstream from Sol Duc Falls at the Sole Duck River meandering amongst the lush greenery of the Olympic Rainforest

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 Sol Duc 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.”

Authorities

Sol Duc Falls resides in Olympic National Park between Forks and Port Angeles in Clallam County, Washington. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Sol_Duc_Falls_002_jx_08222011 - Julie entering the forested terrain for the Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_164_08222011 - On the early part of the hiking trail leading to Sol Duc Falls
Sol_Duc_Falls_003_jx_08222011 - The lush rainforest scenery all along the trail to Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_165_08222011 - Julie in rain gear on the trail to the Sol Duc Falls flanked by tall trees
Olympic_Peninsula_166_08222011 - It was easy to gaze upwards towards the top of the trees while hiking to Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_169_08222011 - A little brown bridge contrasting the green as we crossed some creek en route to Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_168_08222011 - Examining the creek from the foot bridge en route to the Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_170_08222011 - Julie dwarfed by the tall trees flanking us while hiking amongst the Olympic Rainforest towards Sol Duc Falls
Sol_Duc_Falls_007_jx_08222011 - Julie photographing me getting wet while checking out Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_186_08222011 - The Sol Duc Falls itself as seen from the far side of the bridge
Olympic_Peninsula_189_08222011 - Looking down to where the Sole Duck River had split before making its plunge as the Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_195_08222011 - Looking downstream towards Julie standing on the footbridge right in front of the Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_197_08222011 - Context of the viewpoints near the brink of Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_200_08222011 - More angled look from the footbridge towards the Sol Duc Falls below
Olympic_Peninsula_206_08222011 - Context of other onlookers checking out the Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_208_08222011 - Looking downstream from the footbridge fronting Sol Duc Falls
Olympic_Peninsula_209_08222011 - Making it back to the signs by the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls

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The trailhead for Sol Duc 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.

Sol_Duc_Falls_001_jx_08222011 - The parking lot at the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls
The parking lot at the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls

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.

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

Trip Planning Resources


Nearby Accommodations



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Tagged with: olympic, national park, clallam, port angeles, washington, peninsula, waterfall, lake crescent, rainforest



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Sol Duc Falls – Olympic National Park January 4, 2011 4:47 am by Roger Weight - 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 sunny. Had it not been sunny, my picture would have been quite different. As it is, it has lots of highlights where the sun shown… ...Read More

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