Unlike our early morning visit to Hurricane Ridge the other day, we didn't get going until the afternoon. As the two waterfalls - Sol Duc and Marymere - are very popular, we just conceded that we would have to enjoy them with many others.
The Marymere Falls trailhead is about 15 miles from Salt Creek Recreation Area along the shores of the beautiful Lake Crescent on U.S. Hwy 101. When we pulled in around 1:30, the parking lot was overflowing and people had driven up over curbs to park in the grass. The Storm King Ranger Station there is closed, so there is nobody present to try to enforce parking rules.
We decided to leave and give it a go on the return trip. We continued on another 20 miles to the Sol Duc Falls trailhead.
Now, U.S. 101 from the Storm King Ranger Station to the Fairholme Campground area is under construction. It's a pretty drive along the lake but almost all of the turnouts were closed to stage construction equipment and worker vehicles. At one point, we were stopped for about ten minutes as the road was closed to two-way traffic.
Lake Crescent is a lovely deep blue, and the shallow edges were a crystal clear aquamarine. If a few of the turnouts had been open, I would have gotten some good photos.
Eventually, we got to the turn for the Sol Duc area (or Soleduck if you prefer). There is a park entrance station there that collects the $30/car fee, and it's a 14-mile drive to the Sol Duc Falls trailhead.
The large parking lot was nearly full, but there weren't as many people on the trail or at the falls as we expected. From the trailhead, it's a pretty easy 0.8-mile one-way hike with some gentle ups and downs through the forest.
Another option to get to the falls with even fewer people is the Lovers Lane Loop which begins at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Our friends John & Pam did that loop last year - Hiking To Sol Duc Falls With Friends - and here is another link to a description of the Lovers Lane Trail. But the six to seven mile round-trip trek was more than we were willing to take on.
We arrived at the falls to find a bridge and several fenced viewing spots.
Sol Duc falls is not a high waterfall, but it is three waterfalls in one situated in a pretty little gorge. This is the main view from the bridge.
Here's a short video.
The water flows through the narrow gorge under the bridge into a clear water pool and then on down the Sol Duc River.
I had read that the falls are hard to photograph, and that is true due to the angles, downed trees, and vegetation. But I took various shots anyway.
Linda wasn't quite sure Sol Duc Falls was worth the 35-mile drive, but I'm glad we went. It's not the most impressive waterfall, but keep in mind we've seen a LOT of waterfalls over the years. Still, it's a little different and it's a pretty area.
Contrary to our expectations, the crowd wasn't overwhelming and the people on the trail were extremely polite. We all greeted each other, whereas many trails, especially short, easy ones, are often filled with people that never look up, don't smile, and don't acknowledge anyone else's presence. For a trail this short and popular, all the people were very pleasant which was quite encouraging.
By the way, the nearby Sol Duc Campground is only one of two in Olympic National Park that takes reservations. And there is a separate RV camping area with 17 sites, 10 of which can accommodate rigs up to 36 feet. It does have 50/30 amp electric and water hook-ups whereas the nearby campground has no hook-ups and smaller sites. We passed by the RV section and it's just a little gravel lot RV park in the woods - convenient, but nothing special.
After our mile and a half round-trip at Sol Duc Falls, we went back to Marymere Falls. Well, after a 25-minute delay in construction, we finally made it back there around 4:30. There were just a few cars left in the parking lot by that time.
We walked from the parking lot to the trailhead near the closed ranger station.
Just like Hidden Cove yesterday and Sol Duc Falls earlier, this is about a three-quarter mile one-way hike.
The trail crosses under U.S. 101 through a tunnel, ....
and heads back through a lowland forest.
That first half-mile is flat, easy, and pretty. At this sign we turned to the right.
We crossed this bridge, ....
over a lovely stream.
And then there was another cool bridge ....
over this smaller stream.
Then, it was a short, steep climb up to the falls loop.
We could see the falls as we approached on the path.
It's not a high flow waterfall, but it's fairly tall, and it's beautiful.
We had it to ourselves for a little bit, and then we climbed higher on the loop to different vantage points.
But the first viewpoint is the best. We continued on around the loop, and looked down to a family crossing the wooden bridge.
I took one last photo from that bridge as we headed out.
Linda enjoyed the Marymere Falls hike (and falls) much more than Sol Duc. She said the trail is more interesting, and Marymere has a bigger "wow factor" as far as beauty. I liked both of them, but I did enjoy the walk to Marymere more.
So, check off two more of the places I wanted to visit on the north side of Olympic National Park. And those will be our last stops in Olympic on this trip.
We've thoroughly enjoyed Olympic National Park and its magnificent diversity with the ocean, rainforests, and mountains. It's also a haven for those that like to get out in the backcountry, and I'd like to do a bit more of that in a future visit. But we got a great overview of many parts of the park, and we can add it to our list of favorite National Parks.
Back at Salt Creek, it was fifteen degrees cooler at only 55 degrees when we returned at 7:00. And the fog still sat on the Strait, so we had two nights in a row without a sunset.
I grilled some salmon in the moist, chilly air, and we enjoyed our dinner in the comfort of our rig.
Tomorrow, we do final preparations for our week-long visit to Vancouver Island which starts Thursday. At first, we weren't going to take the motorhome due to the cost of the ferry, but we've decided it will likely save us enough money on lodging and food to offset the ferry costs. So, we'll be crossing the border in the Winnebago, something we never did in our thirteen years in the fifth wheel.
We've got some exciting tours scheduled, so stay tuned to see how it goes.