Friday, August 28, 2009

Sol Duc Falls

We awoke to a cloudy day, but with no rain in the forecast until tonight we packed up our gear for a hike to Sol Duc Falls.  The Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park is a few miles past the western end of Lake Crescent.  Our trailhead was located at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

Sol Duc River
Sol Duc Hot Springs was a thriving resort in the early 1900s with an elegant hotel.  Visitors came to soak away their cares and ills in the thermal pools.  After only 4 years a fire destroyed the elaborate hotel.  Today, a concessionaire manages the resort inside the  National Park.  Behind the small main building which houses the gift shop and restaurant are four pools.  Three are hot mineral pools filled by piping in water from the hot springs and a fourth pool of fresh water for swimmers.  There are also several cabins for rent and a park service campground.
A backcountry picnic shelter

We followed our trail which skirted the west side of the Sol Duc River for 3 miles.  A footbridge provided access to the east side of the river and our best view of the falls was from the bridge.  We found a bench for our lunch break.  For our return trip, we chose a trail on the east side of the river.
Sol Duc Falls

Lunch at the falls
We made two stops on our way home.  The first was at Salmon Cascade.  We had heard the salmon were gathering in the pool below the cascade before continuing their journey up river to spawn.  Sure enough, we saw a group of about 8 circling in the water below the cascade.  We waited, but none took that leap up the falls to higher water.
Salmon Cascade
Our second stop was at Granny’s Restaurant.  You know we couldn’t drive past there without stopping for another blackberry milkshake.

Two long hikes two days in a row has my lower extremities feeling the pain.  Tomorrow will be a rest day for me.

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