If you’ve never been to Olympic National Park before I sure hope you have lots of memory cards for your camera.
No matter what I hike I do I just can’t stop myself from pausing to take another picture every 30 seconds or so.
This is especially true for Sol Duc Falls, both the hike and the falls themselves.
The Sol Duc Falls Trail is an excellent trail for families (and just about everyone else) that are experiencing the Olympic Peninsula and wants to get outside and experience some fresh air.
While you can’t really mess anything up (it’s just a walk down a wide well maintained path) there are a few things you can do to decide if this hike is for you and, then, to improve your experience!
Here’s how we do the trail to Sol Duc Falls now…
Sol Duc Falls is located in the Sol Duc Valley of Olympic National Park.
To get to the trailhead you’ll need to travel west on Highway 101 from Port Angeles for around 30 miles before turning left onto Sol Duc Road. Continue for 14 miles (past the hot springs) until you get to the end of the road. There is a large-ish parking lot where you leave your car before hiking.
Know Before You Go
Current fees as of 2023 are $30 for a private vehicle (valid for 7 days) or $55 for an annual pass to the park.
The trail itself is well cared for. At least, as well cared for as any trails in the PNW are where rain can wash things out and trees fall regularly.
Whenever we’ve done Sol Duc Falls the entire trail has been easily passable for everyone in our group including my aging parents and our two young kids.
The Sol Duc Falls Trail is a 1.6-mile long “out-and-back” stroll that takes most people about an hour to complete.
However, we tend to dawdle and spend time photographing the falls (and everything else) so we spent about two hours total.
The majority of the path is smooth dirt under a dense canopy of large trees.
The falls themselves are about 48 feet high and can form anywhere from 1 to four distinct channels depending on the volume of water that is flowing (in other words, when you visit).
Don’t just rush to the waterfall though! Along the way, hikers will have plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the spectacular views as well as catch glimpses of wildlife such as deer and birds.
Is Good For Kids?
Sol Duc Falls is an amazing hike to do with the family, especially kids. The path is wide enough that everyone can have room to spread out and explore, plus it’s fairly flat with only minimal elevation gain (just over 200 feet) which makes it safe for little ones.
Just be careful around the waterfall as everything in the area tends to get slippery and nobody wants to walk back out soaking wet or covered in mud.
We always pack plenty of snacks and a picnic blanket (everything is wet, remember) so we can relax when we get to the falls.
There isn’t a ton of “relaxing” area at the falls as you more or less feel like you’re in the middle of the forest so you’ll probably want to bring a mat to sit on as we did.
When to Hike
The best time to hike the Sol Duc Falls Trail is during late spring or early summer when temperatures are moderate and flowers are in bloom.
That said, it’s important to note that temperatures can drop quickly in this part of Washington State so you should always dress appropriately and bring layers with you regardless of when you go.
It’s also important to start your hike early enough so that you can make it back before dark, especially if you plan on taking one of the longer trails nearby.
Can I Hike In Winter?
Typically Sol Duc Falls is not accessible during the winter.
Due to winter weather, the road to the trailhead is closed more often than not.
Photographing Sol Duc Falls
Sol Duc Falls is truly a photographer’s paradise! The best time to capture photos here is near sunset when light filters through the trees creating beautiful patterns on both land and water.
If possible, try to take photos from different angles so that you can capture all sides of this majestic waterfall. Just be aware that there probably isn’t a trail to the spot you want to go so you’ll have to do some careful bushwhacking.
We’ve been often enough that we’ve managed to get some pictures of just the falls but, due to its popularity, it may be difficult to get a shot without people in it. So temper your expectations and be prepared to meet some friendly people (no dogs though as they aren’t allowed on the trail).
Other Things To Do Nearby
While you’re on the Olympic Peninsula you’ll never run out of things to do.
Once you leave Sol Duc Falls I’d recommend making the 55-minute drive to Marymere Falls, our other favorite in the area. Even though the falls are not quite as large as Sol Duc Falls the hike is great and it’s typically less busy.
Here are a few other things in the area that you’ll want to experience before heading on:
Visit Hurricane Ridge for an adventure of breathtaking views and wildlife spotting. This mountain ridge features expansive vistas that span across vast mountain ranges and deep valleys. Plus, you may come across deer or black bears while exploring this area! Enjoy a sense of exploration as you ascend to dramatically beautiful scenery overlooking lush forest meadows and distant snow-capped peaks.
Relax and take in the breathtaking sights on a boat ride on Lake Crescent. With its crystal clear waters and stunning surroundings, it provides a calming experience that will make you feel at one with nature. The lake’s shorelines is dotted by old-growth evergreens which provide scenic backdrops for snapping photos or simply taking in the view from your boat deck. Be sure to take advantage of this opportunity for ultimate relaxation!
Immerse yourself in the lush flora of the Hoh Rainforest–the largest temperate rainforest system in the world! Full of life, this ecosystem is home to an impressive amount of biodiversity; so don’t forget your camera! Follow trails along branches of the Hoh River and spot birds fluttering amongst ancient trees that form a canopy high above your head – truly an awe-inspiring experience.
Second Beach/Ruby Beach
Get away from it all at Second Beach or nearby Ruby Beach. Take time to admire the rocky headlands, sea stacks, and myriad sculptures carved by centuries of wind erosion while combing through miles of sandy beachfront. Whether it’s sunbathing under sunny skies or discovering hidden treasures among driftwood logs, these two beaches offer something for everyone who seeks solace away from everyday life noise.
And lastly, indulge in one of many naturally occurring hot springs off Obstruction Point Road! Unwind after a long day outdoors as you immerse yourself in these blissful hot springs full of healing minerals.
With temperatures ranging from 80° F (26 ° C) to 103° F (38° C), these springs are perfect spots for soothing sore muscles after any activity (like hiking to the falls, maybe?)
In conclusion, hiking the Sol Duc Falls Trail promises a unique experience unlike any other with its breathtaking views and diverse wildlife.
Whether you’re a first-timer in the area or an experienced adventurer looking for new trails this area has something for everyone! We’ll see you at the falls!