For more on Deer Lake and The Potholes, see our Deer Lake, The Potholes and Sol Duc Falls page.

04/11/21 - Sol Duc Falls and the Forest

When we realized that Sol Duc Road was open, we went out to the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls at the end of the road. The resort was closed, as was the campground. The parking lot was not very full. The day was cold and gray, but we entered the forest heading down a series of steps into a world of tall trees, mosses and ferns. There was also snow here and there beside the trail.

The falls were impressive, but we've seen them even wilder. Once the snow starts melting, the river will grow in force. We crossed the river and headed onward taking the trail to Deer Lake. There was no way we were going to make it to the lake. With patches of snow down at the level of the falls, the trail leading 1600' up to the lake was surely quite deep in snow in its higher reaches. We had hoped to make it to the bridge over Canyon Creek and perhaps up about 700' to where we could see the snow melting.

We didn't get all that far. We had seen signs of windfall on the trail to the falls, but the trail had been cleared. The trail to Deer Lake still had downed trees and branches blocking it. We clambered over a few, but then we reached a downed tree trunk that lined up to block the trail for some ways. We considered squeezing our way alongside it, but given the state of the trail, odds are we would run into another obstacle afterwards and then others beyond.

According to the park website, the resort and the campground open on April 16th, so it is likely that more trails will be cleared as the season progresses.

Forest steps

Snow beside the trail

More snow

Sol Duc Falls

Another view of the falls

Yet another view with some foreground snow

Other Sol Duc waterfalls

The forest trail

Another world

More forest steps

A forest stream

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trails, waterfall

05/17/18 - Sol Duc Falls And Beyond

We braved the construction on Route 101 along Lake Crescent and were pleased to only be delayed perhaps twenty minutes on our way west. Our goal was the Sol Duc Falls trailhead where we made our way first to the falls, in full spring rush, and then onward and upwards to the bridge over Canyon Creek. We almost climbed 1000'. Deer Lake was another 600' or so, but we had climbed all we could.

There was no snow on the trail, though we did see patches of snow in the woods. We did see lots of trilliums and lots of running water in the Sol Duc River, in Canyon Creek and seeping from the rocks and pooling on the trail. It's a beautiful but tiring trail. We returned to the car happy but exhausted. We encountered another twenty minute delay on the way back, but we considered the extra time on the road well worth it.

Sol Duc Falls

A trillium

A curtain of drips

Some unmelted snow

Another trillium, artfully arranged

Canyon Creek

A double header

Canyon Creek again

A minor waterway

The forest

Even more trilliums

Keywords: lake crescent, sol duc, spring, trillium, deer lake

05/07/17 - Sol Duc and Beyond - Part 1

Our latest trip to the Sol Duc Valley had some excitement. We spotted a young bear not too far from the trailhead. We had been driving along enjoying the scenery, deep green forest with occasional views of the Sol Duc River. Then we saw the car ahead of us stopped in the middle of the road. That means one thing in a national park, a wildlife sighting. It was a young black bear, but we only had quick look at him or her. However, on our way back, we had a much longer and better look.

The falls themselves are full of water, but not quite as wild as we have ever seen them. It was quite possible to cross the bridge over the river at the falls dry shod. As the spring and summer melt progresses, the flow will increase, and the spray will get much wilder.

We headed up trail on the far side of the river, taking the trail to Deer Lake. The trail meanders for a ways with little streams and curtains of drips, then it follows Canyon Creek which flows down from the lake. We made it to the bridge, about 500 feet above the falls. By this point we had run into some patches of snow on and beside the trail. Looking upstream we could see more snow above, melting and feeding Canyon Creek.

That was our sign to turn around and head back. We'll get in shape for further climbing while the snow melts. So we'll be back.

The young black bear by the road


A stream

Sol Duc Falls

The Sol Duc River

Some snow

Snow covered hills

Canyon Creek

Canyon Creek with the snow above

The bridge over the creek

A trillium

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trillium

05/06/17 - Sol Duc and Beyond - Part 2

It will probably be a while before we can get all the way up to Deer Lake. We're guessing some time in late July. Right now, we're just getting back into shape for the season, and we've never been big on challenging the snow. We'll let the mountains and trails rest under their winter blanket a bit longer.

Canyon Creek


Running water

The trail

A trillium

The trail through the forest

Back to Sol Duc Falls

Forest again

A little fellow

Keywords: sol duc, deer lake

09/22/16 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

We didn’t make it to Deer Lake, but we did get well beyond Sol Duc Falls. We crossed the bridge over Canyon Creek about 450’ above the falls and made our way to over 900’ above. It is a hard trail, not because it is steep, but because it is rocky and rough going.

The trail to Sol Duc Falls is relatively easy going, maybe 25 minutes of hiking with some ups and downs through old growth forest. There is a bridge across the Sol Duc at the falls, and then the trail begins a slow, rough ascent. It seems that half the climbing is up and down various rocks in the trail rather than up the mountainside. The air is often close, at least until one nears Canyon Creek.

Across the creek, the trail gets steeper, alternating between flatter stretches and challenging staircases. We managed to get a few glimpses of Canyon Creek, but we were tuckered out well before the lake at over 1600’. We’ll be back this fall. We’ll be in better shape and better prepared. We haven’t been up to Deer Lake in too long.

A typical stretch of trail

A glimpse of Canyon Creek

A curtain of drips

More drips

Even more drips

Another typical stretch of trail

A bit of autumn color

Canyon Creek from the bridge

A close up

Devil’s claw berries, probably inedible

Sol Duc Falls

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc

02/20/16 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

With Olympic Hot Springs Road closed, we haven’t managed to take any of the trails out of Whiskey Bend or visit the hot springs themselves lately. Instead we drove west past Lake Crescent and took the left turn at the top of the hill onto Sol Duc Road. The resort is closed, but the trail to the falls is open and free of snow.

The trail heads through old growth rain forest and in about 20-30 minutes gets one to the spectacular Sol Duc Falls. With the recent rains the falls were roaring and the bridge covered with spray. We continued on the far side of the river and headed up the canyon towards the little bridge over Canyon Creek. It was a wet, rocky trail and arduous.

We climbed maybe 500 feet to the crossing, but this trail is noted for its high rocky steps, stony pathways and lots of running water. We made it a bit of the way past the bridge over the creek towards Deer Lake but soon ran into snow on the trail. We really weren’t up to dealing with that, so we called it a hike and headed back down. Deer Lake, another 1100 feet up towards the high country will have to wait.

Rain forest

One of the minor water features

Sol Duc Falls

The falls seen from the far side

One of the little side falls

One of the many trickles of water keeping the trail from drying out

A boardwalk, not all that far from the bridge over Canyon Creek

Some rocky steps, not at all atypical

Canyon Creek

Melting snow feeding one of the side streams of Canyon Creek

The view across the Sol Duc Valley

Keywords: sol duc, trails, deer lake

10/01/15 - Back Home to Water

When we left for Australia the North Olympic Peninsula was in the middle of a drought. It was a real relief to get back home and see water, water from the skies and water in the streams. We went out to Sol Duc and took a look at the falls, then headed up towards Deer Lake on the trail that follows Canyon Creek. The falls were full of water as was the creek and as was the trail itself.

Canyon Creek from the bridge

The little streams are flowing too.

At some points the trail itself is a stream.

Sol Duc Falls

Water under the bridge

Keywords: sol duc, deer lake

07/17/15 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

A lot of people visit Sol Duc Falls. They walk from the parking lot to the falls, then they head back. This is definitely worth while, but there are all sorts of trails that run past the falls. One of our favorites is the trail up to Deer Lake which starts on the far side of the bridge over the falls. It's a rocky, lumpy trail, so it is hard going, and Deer Lake itself was a bit beyond us. We just weren't up to a 1600' climb.

Despite this, we saw some wonderful woodland as the trail ascended into the canyon. Around 400 or 450 feet up we cross Canyon Creek on a well built wooden bridge. Then we continued our climb. If nothing else, we were lured by the few hundred non-rocky feet of trail a bit beyond the bridge. It was a short stretch, but after the lumpy trail below, a pleasant relief.

We made it up past the clearing, but turned around exhausted. We've hiked up to Deer Lake, and even beyond to the Potholes, before, but today they were out of our league.

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc forest

One of the boardwalks

Devil's claw berries

Tiarella and a visitor

The falls on Canyon Creek

An old stump


The trail

More forest

and even more forest

Keywords: sol duc, trails, deer lake

11/14/11 - Solitary Sol Duc

We drove out to Sol Duc Falls the other day. The resort was closed. The ranger's station was closed. Even sections of the road were closed with automated traffic signals regulating traffic. The parking lot was deserted but for a handful of cars. It was quiet and isolated and almost spooky. Maybe it was the Spanish moss. Maybe it was Halloween's ghost, but it was a touch spooky.

The trails were wet. In some places they were waterways. The falls were as roaring as ever. We made our way up to the canyon bridge. That's not very far, maybe a third of the way up to Deer Lake. It was cold, and there was ice on the bridges and wooden walkways, so we walked carefully.

It was a strange experience returning to the falls to find them deserted. Usually, there are at least a few people around. The bridge was a bit less icy, but still slippery. It was a strange walk, with a strong sense of being far away from people and things.

There were some elk crossing the road.

The forest was lush.

The little falls near the main falls - It's worth crossing the bridge and exploring a bit.

The falls, as ever

The canyon bridge

Snow on the valley walls

A bit of the trail

A fungal friend

These are either chanterelles or brown destroyers. Only our livers know for sure.

A damp bit of trail

A rocky bit of trail

Keywords: deer lake, halloween, sol duc, trails, elk

05/23/10 - Sol Duc Falls and Beyond

We drove out to Sol Duc and took a walk up towards Deer Lake. We got nowhere near the lake. We climbed perhaps 500', to the bridge over Canyon Creek, but things look promising. The one mile walk from the trailhead to Sol Duc Falls was in great shape. There's no snow down on the valley floor, but once we started climbing, there was plenty of wet snow, though it was melting rapidly. There were also trilliums and waterfalls, but we'll let our pictures do the talking.

There was a dusting of snow on the higher mountains.

There was no snow down on the valley floor.

There was snow a bit higher up.

That's the bridge over Canyon Creek with its snow as yet untromped.

The Canyon Creek falls.

We could get glimpses of snow covered hills from the trail.

All the little creeks were full.

We saw strange fiddleheads, ferns ready to leaf.

There were trilliums. They were wet.

A view of the Sol Duc.

The main falls were as spectacular as ever.

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trillium, waterfall

08/15/08 - Deer Lake Adventure

The high country is officially open, at least as far as we Kalebergs are concerned. We have returned to Deer Lake. This is always a hard climb, not because of the nearly 1600' ascent, but because the trail is rough going with rocks large and small and portions of the trail are a bit warm and humid. There are only one or two short smooth sections, but the rest of the trail is "watch your step". Mind you, it is a beautiful hike, and Deer Lake is a silken wonder, but it takes something to get up there.

It took us the better part of two hours to get from the Sol Duc trailhead to the little bridge at the head of the lake. We munched our sandwiches, ventresca tuna with roasted green peppers and sweet onions. Then we made our way back down.

Usually, our adventures end in the parking lot, but this time we had a way to go. Our car wouldn't start, or rather, it would start, but then turn off. Something was off with the anti-theft transponder. So, we got a ride with a Dutch tourist who was nearing the end of his drive from San Diego to Seattle. We called AAA, and we settled down to dinner at the Sol Duc resort. We had a few nice glasses of wine, planked salmon, crab cakes and a marionberry crisp. That put us in a better mood. We knew AAA wasn't going to make their one hour goal. We were at least a full hour's drive from the nearest station. Still, we had faith. There were no rooms at the inn.

Our tow truck driver was great, with a gentle hand and a big truck. We dropped the car off for repairs and tucked into bed late. This time we Kalebergs had a bit more adventure than we had bargained for.

Deer Lake under a cloudy sky

There was still some snow on the mountains. The park reports a foot or two of snow at the High Divide.

The bridge over the marsh

These guys had neat looking flowers

More great summer flowers

The canyon falls at 450 apl (above parking lot)

This may be the 10,000,000th photo of Sol Duc Falls, but we couldn't resist.

Keywords: deer lake, high country, sol duc, salmon, kale

07/05/08 - Expedition: Deer Lake - Fail!

With the success of our Hurricane Hill expedition, we were all set for further high country exploration. We sallied forth to Sol Duc Falls for an assault on Deer Lake, a rocky one thousand, six hundred and fifty feet APL (above parking lot). Our journey began well, particularly the 0.8 miles from the parking lot to the falls which were roaring with the enthusiasm of early summer and a lot of water.

Then, we began our climb, up towards Deer Lake. This trail, if you are unfamiliar with it, ascends slowly at first, and is notable for its rockiness which often leads to battered foot syndrome. Luckily, our running shoes were up to the challenge, so we rolled along nicely, climbing, climbing, ever climbing. It wasn't long before we reached the Canyon Creek crossing, a high bridge over a powerful stream and a great photo op.

We continued. We passed through the lone unrocky section of the trail among the tall trees, and still we ascended. We did not get far. About 200 feet above the bridge, the snow began. Snow may look harmless, but ask Robert Falcon Scott. Rather than suffer his fate, we turned tail, discretion being the better part of valor.

Our lesson learned was simple. The high country is opening, but at its own pace. We'll be back at Sol Duc soon, and in due course Deer Lake will be ours.

Snow: our nemesis

The canyon falls

A late season trillium

Sol Duc Falls

Pacific dogwood in bloom

Keywords: deer lake, high country, hurricane hill, sol duc, summer, trillium

09/14/07 - Deer Lake and Potholes

Most tourists stop at Sol Duc Falls which is a pleasant mile from the end of Sol Duc Road. We will admit that the falls are spectacular, especially set as they are in the lush green forest of the Northwest. Wem on the other hand, continued across the bridge and up into the high country towards Deer Lake. The trail is rocky and muddy. If nothing else our feet get all banged up as we climb. The trail rises and leaves the main Sol Duc valley and into a side canyon. Since there are trees all around, this is rather subtle. You have to catch glimpses of more distant mountains to realize what is happening and why the air grows still.

There is a little bridge across the side stream that flows from Deer Lake to the Sol Duc, then the trail begins to climb in earnest alternating between flat areas and staircase like climbs. The lake is about 1600' above the falls, but the effort is worth it. Deer Lake is a jewel in the mountains.

We were energetic today, so climbed higher. Rather than walking around the lake the way we usually do, we took the side trail to the Seven Lakes Basin and climbed towards the potholes. This trail follows the side of a mountain past several little ponds, but eventually it turns inward and through a grove of blueberries, still surprisingly full of ripe berries, and then up to the barren open area of the potholes.

This is a relatively bare flat area with a number of small ponds sparkling and reflecting the sky. We ate our tongue sandwiches here keeping a wary eye out for bears. There were bears in the high country according to several campers we met, but they were another six miles down the trail which was close enough for us.

The descent was lovely. The feeling of accomplishment was glorious. The pounding of our feet by the rocky trail painful.

One of the potholesClick here for more info

Another pothole, still full of water, but you can see the rocky lake bed

Some early autumn color

A great looking mushroom - yes, we are obsessed

A curtain of drips, click for the movie

Keywords: autumn, deer lake, high country, sol duc

Dry Pothole at the Potholes

08/12/05 - Dry Potholes Above Deer Lake

This has been a very dry summer, even in the high country, there is not as much water as usual We were up at the Potholes above Deer Lake, and the drought was really visible. There is usually water in the pothole shown on the left. That grass has been growing for a fair while. Let's hope that the autumn rains come soon, and we have a good snow pack this winter. We need it.

Keywords: deer lake, high country, autumn, winter

Fall Color at the Potholes

09/23/04 - Deer Lake

The high country is still open around the High Divide. Needless to say, we didn't quite make it up to the divide itself, but we did make it up past Sol Duc Falls and up past Deer Lake to The Potholes. This is a climb of about 2200 feet.

Since it is late in September, we were glad that the snow has held off this long. We ran into some campers who had run into snow a few days before, so we know that the high country will be closing to casual hikers soon.

In exchange for our efforts, we got to see the fall foliage. The leaves are turning red and brown and gold. We could smell to leaves just starting to decay and the other crisp smells of autumn.

Summer wasn't completely over though. We did manage to grab a few of the last blueberries.

If you do plan to head up to Deer Lake, The Potholes, or beyond, do hurry. The snows will be coming soon.

More Fall Color
Even More Fall Color

Keywords: deer lake, high country, autumn, sol duc

06/09/04 - Snow Melted at Deer Lake

The snows have melted at Deer Lake, so we were up the trail to take a look. The weather was scattered showers, so the sky was a mix of gray and blue patches. It rained under the gray and it was warm and bright under the blue.

Since the sky was gray when we arrived, we stopped for a coffee at the Sol Duc Hot Springs resort. The pools were empty, and we were tempted to take a dip, but with the new whirlpool bath at Lake Crescent Cottage, we decided that we had mountains to climb instead.

We headed down from the Sol Duc trailhead parking lot and passed by the falls. The Sol Duc falls were spectacular. There was a lot of water blasting through the rocks by the bridge, but we still had mountains to climb. 
Mist at Deer Lake

The trail was usual stony self. The air was heavy and misty, so it was hard going. The trail was wet, but not impassable. We had to stop on the bridge to marvel at the waterfall. There was a lot of Pacific dogwood in flower for the first half of the trail, and a lot of glacier lilies as we got higher.

As for the lake itself, it was by turns brilliant and misty as you can see in our photo. The water was clear and fresh, and the snow seems to have melted all around the lake. You can see the snow above, and we hear that the Potholes are still in deep snow only a few hundred feet above.

For more on this great trail, click here.

Keywords: deer lake, high country, sol duc, lake crescent, lake crescent cottage, waterfall

05/23/04 - Storm King

We climbed Storm King today. We spent the last month dreading it. It is a brutal climb with a lot of slippery scree. Naturally, we can never make a head on assault. We have to work indirectly, so we drove off to Sol Duc to check out the trail to Deer Lake. As we neared Barnes Creek, we slammed on the brakes and swerved into the Storm King parking lot. Before we knew what had hit us we were at 450', passing the ramada where a youth group was lunching. Around 1200', as we were passing the little side spur to the alpine overlook, we regained consciousness and realized that we were going to make it. You'll find a couple of new snapshots on our Barnes Creek et al page.

Keywords: storm king, deer lake, sol duc