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Perhaps the most photogenic waterfall at Olympic National Park, Sol Duc Falls is a top destination for those looking to enjoy the park’s waterfalls and old-growth forests. The falls are located along the Sol Duc Falls Trail, with both the waterfall and the hike itself being worth the journey.
Waterfalls in Olympic National Park
The Olympic Peninsula is known for water – snow on the alpine mountains, glacier-fed rivers and lakes, temperate rainforests, rugged coast, and of course, stunning waterfalls.
The Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail lays out seven regions of waterfalls:
- Sol Duc and Northwest Coast – explore old growth forest in the Sol Duc Valley to the northernmost point in the lower 48
- Pacific Coast – venture to where the rivers meet the ocean near La Push
- Elwha and Lake Crescent – beautiful valley near Port Angeles and Lake Crescent
- Hoh Rain Forest – hike through the rainforest along the Hoh River.
- Quinault Rain Forest – see the highest concentration of viewable waterfalls in this beautiful rainforest.
- Southern Loop – explore inland waterfalls in the southern region of the park
- Hood Canal – eastern slopes of the Olympic Mountains running north and south along the Hood Canal
Learn more about the Olympic Peninsula’s waterfalls in the link below, and be sure to check out the brochure that details all the sites on the Waterfall Trail.
About Sol Duc Falls
The Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail calls Sol Duc Falls the “signature” falls of Olympic National Park. The waterfall is part of the Sol Duc River, which is part of the Quillayute River Watershed. “Sol Duc” comes from a Quileute word roughly translating to “sparkling waters,” an appropriate name for a beautiful waterway.
Sol Duc Falls is a total of 48 feet tall. The main falls pours 37 feet into a narrow canyon of moss-covered rocks. There are often three or four segmented plunges on this waterfall. There is also a second, shorter drop further down the canyon.
Hiking Sol Duc Falls Trail to the Waterfall
Trail info: 1.6 miles out-and-back
Sol Duc Falls is beautiful and easy to access once you have hiked out to its location in the middle of an old-growth forest. This makes Sol Duc Falls Trail a perfect day hike.
Enjoy the Journey
Sol Duc Falls Trail is more than just a way to get to the waterfall. The trail itself is beautiful and worth taking your time on. It weaves through old-growth forests, with trees older than 200 years. This forest is also considered lowland because of its location in the Sol Duc Valley and along a river. The forest is filled with towering Sitka Spruce, western red cedars, and western hemlocks. Many trees are draped with mosses and lichen, while more mosses and ferns cover the ground. In the spring, we saw wildflowers like the Pacific trillium.
Crossing a Stream
At one point, the trail crosses a beautiful stream. There is a short footbridge to take you across.
Arriving at the Waterfall
It’s common to hear the waterfall before you see it. The thundering falls echo through the canyon to the trail above. You will first come to a bridge that crosses over the canyon. From either side of the bridge, you can enjoy these spectacular views of the falls and the canyon below:
Cross the bridge and walk to the viewing deck overlooking the falls. From here, you can also get a view of the bridge and canyon below. We visited in the afternoon and were lucky when the sun decided to shine through the trees.
Our Top Tips For Visiting Sol Duc Falls
Visiting Sol Duc Falls: What You Need to Know
- Entry fee: Olympic National Park requires an entry fee. You can also purchase an America the Beautiful Pass to receive admission to all national parks and federal lands.
- Hour of operation: The road to Sol Duc Falls closes seasonally. Check here for current conditions.
- Park policies and permits: Please familiarize yourself with park policies and acquire any permits for camping and backpacking.
- NPS App: Download the NPS App and read more about Olympic National Park amenities, activities, and park alerts such as road or trail closures. You can download the park page to access this information through the app offline.
- Interpretive Exhibit: There is no visitor center at Sol Duc Falls, but there is an outdoor interpretive exhibit you can visit at one of the parking lots.
- Eagle Ranger Station / Sol Duc Ranger Station (unstaffed): a historic ranger station built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The station is unstaffed by may offer brochures.
- Passport Program: There is no passport stamp for this area, but you can collect passport stamps at the main visitor center in Port Angeles.
- Driving: Drive west from Port Angeles along US 101. Turn left onto the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. Then drive 14 miles to the trailhead.
- Maps: Take a look at maps to get a sense of the park areas and how to get around. Be sure to have a physical map in addition to digital maps like AllTrails while traveling. Phone service is limited depending where you are in the park!
- Park conditions: Leading up to your visit, as well as on the day of your visit, check the current conditions at the park. This includes being aware of weather and other park alerts and conditions.
- Weather: The Sol Duc area is an old growth forest with a mild climate and is often cool or misty, especially near the waterfall.
What to Bring and Wear to Sol Duc Falls
- Refillable water bottle – Always pack water when hiking, even when the hike is short and easy.
- Food and snacks – There isn’t any food available at Sol Duc Falls, so be sure to bring some with you.
- Portable charger – There is little phone service around the park, so bring a portable charger to be sure your phone is fully charged.
- Photography gear – The Sol Duc Falls is one of the most photogenic, so bring whatever camera suits you best. Bring a tripod and ND filters for long exposures.
What to Wear
- Rain jacket – A packable rain jacket will come in handy when you get close to the falls.
- Waterproof boots – Even if it’s not raining, the ground in the forest is often damp and there are several small streams and wet areas you will cross. The bridges along the trail and viewing deck at the falls can also be slippery.
- An extra layer for warmth – A fleece or puffy jacket will help since temperatures are often cool in the forest.
- Day pack – For short day hikes, a lightweight backpack to keep water, snacks, and essentials should be all you need!
Recommended Reading for Visiting Sol Duc Falls
Check out our recommendations from Bookshop.org, which supports local bookstores! Learn more about waterfalls.