From the Sol Duc trailhead, the wide Sol Duc River Trail starts out nearly flat and increases in steepness the further you travel up this beautiful river valley. First pass the junction of Deer Lake Trail
and continue straight towards the Canyon Creek shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You'll hike through old growth Douglas fir forest and hear the cascading, 3-tiered Sol Duc Falls
before you see it. The sun does not often penetrate the forest here and the spray can make it downright chilly.
Continue along the valley bottom over mellow terrain until the intersection with the Appleton Pass Trail
, after which the grade increases noticeably. Leave the Sol Duc River valley and climb steep switchbacks up the hillside next to Bridge Creek. The dense forest gradually gives way to enchanting meadows which, in turn, eventually become wide open fields with expansive views of the surrounding mountains.
The trail passes a small waterfall at the outlet of romantic Heart Lake
. Contour around the east side of Heart Lake
and envy the lucky folks who are camping in this idyllic spot. The Sol Duc River Trail ends at a junction with High Divide Trail
(this junction is shown next to the lake on some maps, at the ridge on others).
Note: higher elevations usually melt out in early to mid-July and become unusable again by October.