September 9, 2013 by Deb W. Trotter
Before we visited Olympic National Park this summer, we decided we wanted to hike to Sol Duc Falls because of photos we had seen of its unusual structure. As we drove into that part of the Park off Highway 101 to find the trailhead, we were still unsure of how to pronounce the name of the Falls, and several options seemed possible. We must not have been the only visitors who wondered, but we wondered no more once we saw the signs.
The trail to Sol Duc Falls is 1.6 miles round trip, mostly level, through deep forest. On that warm late July afternoon, the hike was popular, and the parking lot was jammed, but we had lucked into a spot that opened up right near the trailhead.
It was an easy .8 miles to the Falls, and the wooden bridge below them and the overlook above them afforded various perspectives on the triple split of water rushing into the canyon below. The frothy flow cooled the air nearby and released a refreshing spray into our faces.
To add more hiking miles to our outing, we left the crowds behind at the bridge and continued along the trail toward Deer Lake. As we climbed up from the falls, the trail got steeper, narrower and rougher, the surface becoming predominantly dirt and sharp rocks. We met two backpackers coming down who had spent the previous night at Deer Lake. They said the mosquitoes were so bad that they pitched their tent when they got there and retreated inside. They also mentioned another waterfall, Canyon Falls, about a half mile farther along the trail, so we decided to make that our destination for that day.
As we retraced out steps down to Sol Duc Falls and then back to the parking lot, the afternoon was still warm and the trail still drawing hikers. Carrying water to drink is recommended, and bug spray is never a bad idea in a thick forest on a warm summer day.