The Sol Duc Falls Trail is known for mossy old growth trees, wildflowers, and stunning cascades flowing among the lush undergrowth. It was truly like a scene from a fairytale. People come from all over to experience this beautiful setting, making the Sol Duc Valley one of Olympic National Park’s most popular attractions. There are many trails in the area, but if you’re looking for an easy and short walk with some wonderful scenery, the trail to Sol Duc Falls is a great option.
Getting to the Sol Duc Falls Trailhead
To access Sol Duc Falls, head to the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula on the 101. From the 101, turn south onto Sol Duc Road (also known as Sol Duc Hotsprings Road). You’ll pass the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and campground shortly before you reach the trailhead parking. From the 101 it is just under 14 miles to the trailhead.
While this road is paved the whole way, always check road conditions before you go. The parking lot has room for dozens of cars, but this is a popular trail and the lot frequently fills up, so it is best to arrive early.
If you do not have your own transportation, consider taking a tour or checking out a shuttle service.
Sol Duc Falls sits in Olympic National Park, so a parks pass is required to hike here. It is best to purchase your pass online and print it beforehand. The pass is $30 for a private vehicle and is good for seven days. An Olympic National Park annual pass is $55.
Alternatively, you can purchase an America the Beautiful annual national parks pass for $80. Ours had just expired, so we picked ours up along with a bear canister at the REI in Olympia the day before.
Hiking to Sol Duc Falls
Hike Type: Easy out-and-back trail
Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) round trip
Elevation Gain: 200 feet (61 meters)
Duration: 45 mins – 1.5 hours
Regulations: Pets and bicycles are not allowed on the trail. Drones are not permitted. A wilderness permit is required for camping in the backcountry. Call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100 for information on wilderness camping permits
The trail to Sol Duc Falls begins at the far end of the parking lot from the road by which you entered. We came here mid-morning on a weekday in the early spring after hiking Mt. Storm King and the lot was only about half full. Right from the start, the hike was beautiful as the trail wound through the towering old growth trees. The trail is pretty wide and flat, making it great for all skill levels.
As we wandered through the woods, we could hear the echo of the water through the trees. We passed over a small bridge by a little cascade. It was early spring but a few wildflowers had begun to pop up, adding dots of color to the tremendously green undergrowth.
After only a short time hiking, we reached Sol Duc Falls. Our first sight of it was the well-known view overlooking it from the bridge. It is really a stunning sight! With the slight mist rising from the falls and the dense woods surrounding us preventing the sun from flooding the forest floor, it was pretty chilly! We admired the view from the bridge then continued across it for another angle.
There are a few railed viewing sections along the waterfall. There are other trails in the area if you want to continue to explore; however, we had another hike planned in a different area of Olympic National Park, so we headed back out the way we came after spending some time at Sol Duc Falls.
What to Bring to Hike to Sol Duc Falls
Parks Pass: A parks pass is required to hike to Sol Duc Falls
Water: Best to bring water even though this is a short hike
Waterproof Layers: This area of Washington is frequently rainy, so bring a rain jacket!
Other Layers: Pack layers appropriate for the season. Note that even in the summer, it can get kind or chilly in the mornings and evenings.
Comfortable Walking Shoes: The trail is dirt and pretty flat, but it’s best to still wear shoes comfortable and sturdy enough to walk through the woods. Trails may become muddy during and after rain.
Camera: The falls are a popular spot for photographers
If you’re spending a couple days exploring the Olympic Peninsula, the Sol Duc area is a popular place to stay. There is the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which has a variety of cabin rooms available starting mid-April through October. There is also the campground just near the resort that has over 80 sites, including some RV sites. Click here to check availability and make reservations. Make your reservations as early as possible.
For more information of visiting the Sol Duc Valley, check out this park brochure.