This trail is a steady climb through beautiful woods to a tree-lined lake. Canada jays wait to eat your food, but don't feed them. There are some switchbacks on this trail, and it can get pretty bumpy in spots.
6 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Junction of Sol Duc Falls.
Elwha River Trails
The serious backpacker arranges a pickup car at the Dosewallips or North Fork trail heads and heads for a week or so along the trail that was blazed by the famed 1889 Press Expedition, the first Anglo excursion across the Olympic Mountains. For a good distance, the trail follows the blue-green of the Elwha River to its source on the sometimes snow-slushy peak at Low Divide (elev. 3,600 ft.), which is also the head of the Quinault River. You can follow the trail downhill to the North Fork of the Quinault.
What can you expect on such a monumental trip? Old-growth forests, moist valley flatlands, and gently sloping hills appear around you as you explore the Elwha Valley before you begin your ascent toward the sometimes calf-busting Low Divide. Roosevelt elk, black bears, mountain lions, marmots, or a grouse or two might show up. At Low Divide, you're treated to spectacular views of Mount Seattle to the north and Mount Christie to the south. From here, you begin your descent from alpine heights to the rainforests along the Quinault.
As with any overnight wilderness trip, be sure to check in at the park's Wilderness Information Center (tel. 360/565-3100) beforehand. Also, the Elwha River restoration will entail some road closures through completion no earlier than 2013.
Up to 50 miles one-way. Difficulty varies. Access: Drive just beyond Elwha Ranger Station to Whiskey Bend Rd. Go past Glines Canyon Dam, 1 1/2 miles up the road. At road's end is Whiskey Bend trail head, just beyond Upper Lake Mills trail head.
Geyser Valley Loop
From the Whiskey Bend trail head, hike down the trail to the Eagles Nest Overlook for a view of the meadows that stretch from valley to valley. You may see an elk or black bear if you're lucky. Head back to the trail and proceed a half mile to the Rica Canyon Trail for a view of Goblin's Gate, a rock formation in the Canyon Gorge that might look like a bunch of goblins' heads staring at you, if you stare back hard enough. The trail to Goblin's Gate drops 325 feet on the half-mile walk to the viewing area. At this point, you can follow a riverside trail for another half mile to some prime fishing spots, or continue to the Krause Bottom and Humes Ranch area; you can get a glimpse into the park's homesteading history. At any one of these points, you can return to the Whiskey Bend Trail or continue northeast past Michael's Cabin, another old homestead.
6 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Whiskey Bend Rd.
High Divide Loop
Like many trails in the park, this one gives you a chance to design your own hike -- be sure to bring a map. From the Sol Duc trail head, climb a relatively easy wooded route of less than a mile to Sol Duc Falls and keep going. You can take a leg out to the Seven Lakes Basin Area. On clear summer days, you can enjoy the wildflowers along the slopes of Bogachiel, the view to the south of the glaciers of Mount Olympus, or the brilliant sunsets on the western Pacific horizon. As with any park trails, permits are required for all overnight stays.
Up to 20 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Sol Duc Ranger Station.
Lover's Lane Loop
This trail creates a loop that links the campground, resort, and Sol Duc Falls. Cross the bridge at the falls and continue around on the trail, which will return you to the resort and campground area after taking you through beautiful Douglas-fir groves and fern glades. Portions of the trail are narrow and rocky and can get muddy until things dry out in midsummer. You may spot grouse along the trail.
5.8 miles RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Sol Duc trail head or Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.
This is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It's well maintained, sits close to U.S. 101, and has a definite goal: beautiful Marymere Falls. It's a popular trail for kids, but the littlest ones will have trouble with the steep ascent to the viewing platform. Start out on the Barnes Creek Trail, which leads .7 mile through beautiful maples and conifers to the Marymere Trail turnoff. Continue up to the falls, where silvery water drops from a moss-covered outcropping some 100 feet to the basin below.
1.8 miles RT. Easy. Access: Storm King Ranger Station.
Mink Lake Trail
This is a long climb up to Mink Lake, where herons are known to pursue an elusive trout or two. In late summer, brilliant buckbean flowers fill the marshy edges of the lake, and huckleberries are abundant.
5.2 miles RT. Moderate. Access: Opposite end of Sol Duc Resort parking lot from the pools.
North Fork of the Sol Duc
On this trail, you climb the ridge between the main and north forks of the river before descending into the North Fork Valley. The trail passes through old-growth forests before arriving at the deep-green pools of the river. The curious can venture upriver for several more miles.
2.4 miles RT. Moderate. Access: North Fork trail head, 3 3/4 miles down Sol Duc Rd. away from the resort.
Sol Duc Falls
One of the more popular spots on the peninsula, Sol Duc Falls is viewed from a bridge that spans the canyon just below the falls. On the way, check out the huge hemlocks and Douglas firs, some of which are 300 years old. This trail is wide, graveled, and level, making it great for kids.
1.7 miles RT. Easy. Access: Sol Duc Ranger Station.
This is the trail you want to take for a leisurely stroll on a hot summer afternoon. The flat, wide trail wanders around the unbelievably blue-green waters of Lake Crescent, along an old stretch of abandoned railroad, with excellent views of Mount Storm King. There are two abandoned railroad tunnels (don't go in!) and a much-photographed arch bridge at Devil's Punchbowl.
8 miles RT. Easy. Access: End of North Shore Rd. along Lake Crescent, or from east end near Log Cabin Resort.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.