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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

A stream through stones

That stream aagain

Keywords: deer lake, sol duc, trails, waterfall


10/02/19 - Sol Duc Falls and Sol Duc Salmon

We drove out to Sol Duc and stopped at one of the overlooks where the entire Sol Duc River squeezes through a group of narrow rocks. We were looking for salmon heading upstream. We were not disappointed. For a while, all one could see was rushing water. Then, there would be a flicker. A salmon would leap from the water trying to make its way upstream. Then there would be another. Then nothing. Don't expect any pictures of leaping fish.

We also went to look at the falls.

Last of the Pacific dogwood

Forest green

Autumn forest

Almost spooky

Mushrooms on a log

The trail

The salmon cascade

Looking for fish in still water

Another view

More wild water

Keywords: salmon, sol duc


10/28/18 - Autumn on the Sol Duc

The Sol Duc Resort and hot springs just closed for the season, but the falls are still there as is the Sol Duc River. We dropped by to check out the salmon. The ranger at the entry station warned us that we had missed the migration, but we might see a straggler or two. We stopped by the cascade and watched for a while. We did see one straggler make a mighty leap. Then we lost sight of him or her in the foam.

The cascade

Sol Duc Falls

A pretty, most likely poisonous, mushroom

Downstream from the falls

The forest

Keywords: salmon, sol duc, autumn


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


10/25/17 - Sol Duc Fall Color

We heard that the salmon were making their way up the Sol Duc River. We haven't been getting out to Sol Duc all that much lately because they are doing some serious and much needed road work on route 101 along Lake Crescent. We made our way out over the weekend, and there were only a couple of relatively short one lane traffic lights to slow us down.

We stopped at the salmon cascade on the Sol Duc road and spent some time looking into the whirlpools and rushing waters of the river where it passes through a narrow gap. Then we saw the first flash of a salmon leaping. It was in the narrowest, wildest part of the wild waters. We concentrated our attention on that area for a while longer. There was another salmon, this one leaping high enough and long enough to sparkle in a rainbow of color.

We watched for a while longer and saw a few more salmon leaping, some barely more than a gray flash, others more dramatic. Then we headed up to the trailhead at the end of the road and walked through the forest to Sol Duc falls. There were waterfalls and fall color, and then there were the falls proper. There were no salmon leaping here. Instead there was the incessant roar of the river and its mist and spray.

We had come shortly after those torrential rains earlier this month, so the Sol Duc River was running in full spate. Even the little feeder streams roared. The fall leaf color too was in full spate, much more brilliant than in most years. The leaves have yet to fall, and the forest and roadside have been illuminated with leaves of bright yellow and some of orange and red. If you can, time your visit for the weekend and enjoy the Sol Duc River at its autumn peak.


Looking up the Sol Duc River

A little waterfall

The salmon cascade

Another view

Fall color

More fall color

Another waterfall

Sol Duc Falls

Looking downriver

A forest scene

Sol Duc Falls again

Keywords: salmon, sol duc, waterfall


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

Forest

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

Forest

Running water

The trail

A trillium

The trail through the forest

Back to Sol Duc Falls

Forest again

A little fellow

Keywords: sol duc


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


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


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