Scenic USA - Washington
Sol Duc Valley
|Photos by Jim Stiles
Jim Stiles Photography
Inset Photos-Courtesy National Park Service
Washington Stateís U.S. Route 101 nearly surrounds the Olympic National Park, with more than a dozen side roads that climb up toward Mount Olympus. Looking like spokes on a wheel, these access points lead to some of the best scenic wonders of Olympic Park. One such park road follows the Sol Duc River Valley to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, campground and the Salmon Cascades Overlook.
Finding a blaze of fall color, such as this view from Sol Duc Valley, can take a bit of luck. For the persistent, it comes as a frequent visitorís reward. When to search for the peak in fallís brilliant colors is far from an exact science. Wind, rain and temperature variation, all add to the uncertainty of where to head on an autumn leaf peeping quest.
Just a short drive from Port Angeles, visitors will find Sol Duc Valley is covered in old growth forest. While following the Sol Duc River deeper into the park, park guest may stop to see Chinook and Coho salmon ascend the Sol Duc during late summer, ready to spawn in late autumn. The Sol Duc River is one of the few places where salmon return every season.
Beyond Salmon Cascade, most visitors stop to explore the ancient groves where self-guided nature trails weave through a land of giants. One trail, as short as six-tenths of mile, loops through a grove of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. Some of these trees, estimated to be 1000 years old, hold a record for their size. The Sol Duc Falls Trail, with a moderate elevation gain of only 200 feet, also winds through the ancient forest and leads to the enchanting Sol Duc Cascades. Additional trails, some interconnecting, offer routes leading to Mink and Deer lakes, Seven Lakes Basin, and the base of Mount Olympus where hikers will find Blue Glacier.
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