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Northern Park Regions

Deer Lake--8 mi. RT. Moderate. Access: Junction of Sol Duc Falls.

A good choice for those who want to see deer, this trail is a steady climb through beautiful woods to this tree- lined lake. Canada jays await to eat your food, but don't feed them. There are some switchbacks on this trail, and it can get pretty bumpy in spots.

Elwha River Trails--Up to 50 mi. one-way. Difficulty varies. Access: Drive just beyond the Elwha Ranger Station to Whiskey Bend Rd. Go past the Glines Canyon Dam, 1.5 mi. up the road. Approximately 2 mi. above the dam is the Whiskey Bend Trailhead, just beyond the Upper Lake Mills Trailhead.

The serious backpacker arranges a pickup car at the Dosewallips or the North Fork ranger districts and heads for a week or so along the trail that was fortuitously blazed by the famed 1889 Press Expedition, the expedition that essentially broke this park wide open. For a good distance, the trail follows the intense blue-green of the Elwha River to its source on the sometimes snow-slushy peak at Low Divide (elevation 3,600 ft.), which is also the head of the Quinault River. You can follow the trail downhill from here 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 towards 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 deep, dense rain forests along the Quinault.

Geyser Valley Loop--5 mi. RT. Moderate. Access: Drive just beyond the Elwha Ranger Station to Whiskey Bend Rd. Go 1.5 miles to the Glines Canyon Dam, and continue up the road approximately 2 mi. to the Whiskey Bend Trailhead, just beyond the Upper Lake Mills Trailhead.

From the Whiskey Bend Trailhead, hike 0.75 mile 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. Head back to the trail and proceed 0.5 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 Gates drops 325 feet on the 0.5-mile walk to the viewing area. At this point, you can follow a riverside trail for another 0.5 mile to some prime fishing spots, or continue on to the Krause Bottom and Humes Ranch area. The Humes Ranch has been restored, although some of the wood is starting to get moldy. At any one of these points you can return north back to the Whiskey Bend Trail, or continue 0.8 mile northeast past Michael's Cabin, another old homestead.

High Divide Loop--Up to 20 mi. RT. Moderate. Access: Sol Duc Ranger Station.

Like many trails in the park, this one gives you a chance to design your own hike. From the Sol Duc Ranger Station Trailhead, climb a relatively easy 0.8 wooded mile to Sol Duc Falls, and keep going. You can take a leg out to the Seven Lakes Basin Area, where you'll find many campsites (crowded in the summer), or toward Appleton Pass, some 14 miles inland. From Appleton Pass, pass nearby Heart Lake, and begin your climb toward Bogachiel Peak (elevation 5,474 ft.), which presents some of the most breathtaking views in the park. 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. Continue back down toward Sol Duc Trail through the Deer Lake area, and make the final leg back to the Sol Duc Trailhead.

Lovers Lane Loop--6 mi. RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Next to site 62 in Loop B of the Sol Duc Campground.

This trail extends a loop that begins just past Sol Duc Falls. Cross the bridge at the falls and continue around on the trail, which will return you to the resort/campground area after taking you through beautiful spruce groves and fern glades. Portions of the trail are narrow and rocky and can get muddy until things dry out in midsummer. Occasionally, you can spot grouse along the trail.

Marymere Falls--2.2 mi. RT. Easy. Access: Storm King Ranger Station.

This is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It's well maintained, close to U.S. 101, and has a definite goal: beautiful Marymere Falls. It's a popular trail for kids. Start out on the Barnes Creek Trail, which leads 0.7 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.

Mink Lake Trail--5 mi. RT. Moderate. Access: Opposite end of the Sol Duc Resort parking lot from the pools.

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.

North Fork of the Sol Duc--2.4 mi. RT. Moderate. Access: North Fork Trailhead, 3.8 mi. down the Sol Duc Rd. away from the resort.

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.

Sol Duc Falls--1.7 mi. RT. Easy. Access: Sol Duc Ranger Station.

One of the more popular spots on the peninsula, beautiful 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.

Spruce Railroad--8 mi. RT. Easy. Access: 4 mi. from the Fairholm Campground, at the end of the North Shore Rd. along Lake Crescent.

This is the trail you want to take for a leisurely, hot summer afternoon stroll. The flat, wide trail wanders gently around the unbelievably blue-green, glacial-fed waters of Crescent Lake, along an old stretch of abandoned railroad. Weather permitting, clamber down the bank and go for a swim, or simply enjoy the views of Mount Storm King. There are two abandoned railroad tunnels (don't go in!) and a much-photographed arch bridge at Devil's Point.


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