Story by Becca Wirta
Photos and video by Bret Wirta
Distance: 6 mile round-trip – Time out: 4 hours
Degree of Difficulty: 1 – Pet Friendly: No
June 13th 2012
Sol Duc Falls Hike
Threatening clouds floated overhead as my boyfriend Patrick, my father Bret, and I embarked on our day hike in the Olympic National Park. We had chosen a manageable six mile loop starting and ending at the historic Sol Duc hot springs which lead us past beautiful Sol Duc Falls. Luckily, as we pulled up to the parking lot in front of the Sol Duc lodge the clouds broke and the sun peered through. Taking this as a positive sign, we started our trek. The three of us told stories, shared college gossip, and enjoyed our lush green surroundings. The terrain was mostly flat and the trail was well kept. We hiked through the scenic Sol Duc Camp Ground. Enormous trees shaded the campground and campsites were available by the river. My younger brother, Garrett, and I would have thoroughly enjoyed camping and playing in the river there when we were children.
As we neared the falls, we noticed an aging cabin on the left side of the trail. The placard revealed that it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the summer of 1939 when Olympic National Park was just a year old. Dad pointed out how the metal ventilation in the roof allowed fires to burn from inside the structure. The cabin was an unexpected and interesting sight on our hike.
We could hear the thunderous sound of the falls before the magnificent Sol Duc Waterfall came into view. Other tourists visiting the park enjoyed the bridge and viewing areas surrounding the waterfall. There is a short trail from the road that makes the falls accessible to visitors who are driving through the park. Patrick and I were quickly soaked with a fine layer of mist while standing on the bridge above the falls.
After making the 3 mile trek back from the waterfall to the lodge (loop trail is on the south side of river), Patrick and I were starving and ready to soak in the natural hot springs behind the lodge. Dad graciously bought us tickets to the springs and a delicious lunch that we enjoyed poolside. My Greek-style wrap was fresh and filling. I especially savored the crunchy home-made pickle that came with my lunch. Patrick, Dad, and I relaxed in the hot water while observing the mischievous young boys in the pool beside us.
I would recommend this hike for a family because it is fairly easy. Also, the waterfall and the hot-springs complete the package. This leisurely hike was a pleasure because of the sights, the food, and especially because I was able to spend such a relaxing day in nature with Dad and Patrick.
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