Sol Duc Falls Tour Highlights One of the Finest of Olympic National Park's Waterfalls

Sol Duc Waterfall, which is comprised of 3 chutes of water, blasts through the rock during spring snowmelt

Olympic National Park's Sol Duc Falls Tour includes the Headwaters of the Mighty Sol Duc River

An Olympic National Park waterfall tour should include Sol Duc Falls.  However, the Sol Duc Valley is not just about a waterfall.  The drive and hike to Sol Duc Falls winds though old-growth forest that includes the majestic Pacific Silver Fir and a profusion of huckleberries.  The wild & scenic Sol Duc Falls is located on one of the eleven major rivers that drain Olympic National Park. 

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Broad-leaved Marsh Marigold is a pretty white flower with a yellow center and circular to kidney-shaped leaves

Combine Sol Duc Waterfall Tour with Marymere and Madison Falls

If Olympic National Park waterfalls are your main area of interest, then we can easily combine Marymere Falls on Lake Crescent and Madison Falls on the Elwha River.  This combination makes for a misty day as each waterfall flows year-round and offers differing waterfall forms and features.  The hikes to both Sol Duc Waterfall and Marymere Falls is about 1 mile (1.6 km) one-way and the easy paved walkway to Madison Falls is a very short 0.1 miles (0.16 km) one-way that is approachable on crutches, a walker or a wheelchair.

Skyward view of a huge Sitka Spruce tree surrounded by other tall conifers against a clear blue sky in the Sol Duc Valley

Sol Duc, Marymere, and Madison Waterfalls are spectacular

During the winter, early spring, and late fall, each of these waterfalls can run high enough to create a fog of water droplets.  However, even during summer low water flow, each of these waterfalls are still spectacular sights to view.  Whether on a pounding river or on a smaller tributary stream, these waterfalls are framed by Maiden Hair Ferns along with other water loving native mesic plants.

The Sol Duc Valley offers more than just an Olympic National Park Waterfall Tour

Two girls sit barefooted on a boulder in a Sol Duc stream watching their father wade in the stream

Salmon Cascades, located on the Sol Duc River, is a great place to watch anadromous fish like Coho salmon jumping in order to continue their journey upriver.  The hiking trails around Sol Duc Falls are as varied and interesting as those found at Hurricane Ridge.  However, the trees are the view, not the mountains.

Close-up of a blue huckleberry, a common edible along the Sol Duc River in the montane forest

Olympic National Park's Old-Growth Pacific Silver Fir Forest of the Sol Duc Valley

The middle elevation or montane forest is a worthy destination for lovers of old-growth forest.  Large old-growth Sitka Spruce trees hug the Sol Duc River and Big-Leaf Maples are laden with moss.  Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar gradually turn into Douglas Fir and Pacific Silver Fir as you climb away from the river.  An amazing hike in the Sol Duc takes you to the Potholes above Beaver Lake.  However, this is a challenging hike due to the elevation gain and rocky conditions of the 5 miles (8 km) one-way middle to subalpine elevation hike.

Close-up of the small delicate magenta spotted flowers of Western Coralroot on a stalk up to 50 cm in Olympic National Park

Hike to Olympic National Park's Sol Duc Falls in all seasons except the winter

Whereas access to Marymere and Madison Falls is generally available year-round, access to Sol Duc Falls is not available during the winter.  During summer, wet conditions near the Sol Duc River allow for a luxuriant production of up to five different species of huckleberry or Vaccinium.  It is fun to sample the tart black, blue, and red berries with a knowledgeable naturalist guide.  During the fall, mushrooms start to spring up everywhere as the maples turn color among the evergreens.

Three separate chutes of water plummet over a rocky precipice, comprising Sol Duc Waterfall in August

Scenic Sol Duc Valley drive all the time

Almost the entire length of the Sol Duc road is in Olympic National Park.  You quickly leave highway 101 in order to enjoy amazingly huge trees virtually hugging the twisty road adjacent to the Sol Duc River.  In the middle of the day in 2016, tour participants watched in amazement as an adult bobcat ran across the road in front of the Experience Olympic vehicle.  According to a field guide to place names of Olympic National Park, it is possible that Sol Duc is from a Quileute word meaning, “the people living at the place of the clear sparkling water.” 

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