Sol Duc Hot Springs is a bit of a journey if you live in Seattle. It involves a ferry ride from downtown Seattle, then a drive past Port Angeles and Lake Crescent and then 13 miles up a dead end road along the Sol Duc river. It is so, so worth it for the relaxing hot springs, the beautiful rainforest and the impressive Sol Duc Falls. It’s about a two and a half hour drive from the ferry (Kingston or Bainbridge ferry terminal). An important thing to note is that Sol Duc Hot Springs road, and the Hot Springs pools, campground, cabins and trailhead are only open from late March through late October.
Camping at Sol Duc Hot Springs
I highly recommend getting a reservation at the Sol Duc Campground (one of two campgrounds in Olympic National Park that you can reserve ahead of time). You can also reserve cabins here. It’s hard to show up and find camping on the Olympic Peninsula in the summer, and I have spent more than one night driving from campground to campground and eventually sleeping in the car, which is a total drag.
The campground is forested and looks like middle earth:
Swimming at Sol Duc Hot Springs
Once you get settled into the campground (or your cabin if you go that route), then walk the half mile over to Sol Duc Hot Springs for some swimming! There is also a coffee shop and giftshop (with an excellent book selection) and changing rooms and showers (you can also buy swimsuits and towels just in case). They have four pools, one that is cold and the largest (and has lap lanes). Then it has three hot pools (they are not all the same temperature). One of them is open to kids, the other two are not. They are basically like big hot tubs. One has a fountain in it. While in the pools, you are surrounded by mountains and evergreen trees. I can’t imagine anything more pacific coast than that. The cost for the hot springs is $15 for adults and $11 for kids.
Hiking to Sol Duc Falls
You can hike directly from the campground or cabins to Sol Duc Falls by the Lover’s Lane Trail, which makes for a wonderful 7 mile loop with about 500 feet of elevation gain. You walk through the forest along the Sol Duc River until you reach spectacular Sol Duc Falls, pictured at the top of this post.
If you want to make a shorter trip, you can drive to the end of Sol Duc Hot Springs road to the trailhead at the end of the road, making it only a 1.5 mile hike round trip to the falls.
If you want to make it a longer trip, the Sol Duc trail goes many miles further up into the mountains and connects to more high country trails, so you can basically make a hike as long as you want from this location (you can even get a backcountry permit and spend a few days up there).