Swimming HomeA shimmering coho leaps the foaming waters of Salmon Cascades in autumn. The salmon and her siblings smell their way upstream, often to the same quiet pool where they hatched from the gravel a few years before. They return to complete their lifecycle in the snow-fed, sparkling waters of the Sol Duc River.
If you quietly walk the Lover's Lane trail, you may spot a pair of salmon side by side in a slow side channel. The female digs gravel nests with her tail, and the male swims close by to fertilize the thousands of eggs she lays. After several days the exhausted salmon die, but their life carries on in the gift of nutrients their carcasses bring to the forest and its creatures.
Chinook and coho salmon ascend the Sol Duc in late summer and spawn in late fall, while cutthroat trout and steelhead run in the fall and winter and spawn into the spring. All of these anadromous fish are born in the Sol Duc River, but spend most of their lives in the Pacific Ocean before returning home to spawn. The Sol Duc is one of the few places where salmon run in every season.
Sol Duc InformationFacilities: Sol Duc Road: open year-round weather permitting. Eagle Ranger Station: not regularly staffed. Call the Wilderness Information Center (360-565-3100) for information on wilderness camping permits and bear canisters. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: cabins, RV park, swimming pool, hot mineral pools, restaurant, shop. Closed in winter.
Camping: Sol Duc Campground: 82 sites (one group site and one accessible site), is run by Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Sites can be reserved for summer at recreation.gov. It has picnic tables, fire pits, animal-proof food storage lockers, accessible restrooms, potable water, RV dump station. Open year-round, but primitive, with pit toilets and no water in winter. Resort-run RV park open summer only. See map below.
Regulations: Pets and bicycles are not permitted on any trails.
Safety: Keep children under close supervision at Sol Duc Falls. It can be a dangerous spot if you don't respect its power.
Hot SpringsA local Indian legend explains how Olympic and Sol Duc Hot Springs were created... Once there were two dragons. One lived in the Sol Duc Valley and the other lived in the Elwha Valley. Neither dragon knew of the other's existence. One day they were both out exploring the forest when they came face to face on top of the ridge separating the Elwha and Sol Duc Valleys. They exploded with anger as each accused the other of invading its territory.
The fight was brutal as the dragons thrashed and ripped at each other to win back their territory. After years of fighting and clawing at each other, they grew frustrated. Their strength was evenly matched and neither could win. The dragons both admitted defeat and crawled back to caves in their respective valleys and are still crying over being defeated. The dragons' hot tears are the source of the hot springs in the Elwha and Sol Duc Valleys.
Day Hikes Around Sol Duc
For longer hikes or overnight camping, the Seven Lakes Basin area offers mountain lakes and excellent views of Mount Olympus from High Divide. But trails can be buried under snow that often lingers into late summer. An ice axe and route finding skills may be neccessary. Always bring your "10 essentials" and use Leave No Trace techniques to help preserve the wilderness experience in this quota area. Our Wilderness Information Center has more information on permits, reservations, food storage and trail conditions.
Last updated: February 16, 2018