Monday, June 23, 2014

A Sol Duc Sunday

Ahhhhh, you ask, "Just what is a Sol Duc Sunday?"
Lake Crescent, Clallam County, Washington
on the Olympic Peninsula, about an hour's drive from
Port Angeles. It's three hours from Seattle.
No, it isn't something to eat. It's a drive on the Olympic Peninsula, up past Lake Crescent to the Sol Duc Hot Springs, (both are attractions in  the Olympic National Forest), for a lovely hot soak after a wonderful bike ride.

We got a late start, my friends and I, but the weather was so lovely, we felt no need to rush. The sun was out, a light breeze was tousling our hair, and then we put on our bike helmets.

I should say that we put on our helmets once we arrived at that portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail near Camp David, Jr., on the north side of the lake. There are plenty of signs off Highway 101, so it is easy to find the road.

This lake is incredibly clear and today it was also very calm.
Once we off loaded the bikes, we were reminded this is a good time of year to carry mosquito repellent as they started swarming us until we were moving along.

You take the trail westward, with a slight uphill trend, (easy pedaling, really) for about 30 minutes, until you reach the port-a-potty and the western entrance off Highway 101. Then you turn around and go back the way you came, gliding all the way!! I don't think I pedaled my bike more than a couple of times on the way back.

We didn't see any folks until we were headed back and then we saw two hikers/walkers on the trail. This whole area has lots and lots of trails for both bikers and hikers. Most of the bike shops have a trail map that is accurate and helpful.

A closer look at the submerged log, above and below.
We saw a doe, who looked more than a little puzzled at three helmeted humans bearing down on her at a pretty good clip. She took off, crashing and making a terrible racket in the forest, probably thinking she was going deaf not hearing us until we were so close.

At the western-most end of Lake Crescent, there are some
campsites, picnic grounds, boat launching pier and a small
area for swimming, at your own risk... it's pretty cold.
All in all, the biking portion of the trip, from start to finish, was about an hour. We did stop for about 20 minutes to enjoy a mossy clearing where we laid down on Nature's mattress to stare up at the canopy of forest. Curious to us was the protection we had from the mosquitoes while we were on the moss. Even though it was slightly damp, they did not seem to care to approach us there.

The light filtered through
the moss-covered trees.
By this time it was after 1:30 p.m., we were pretty hungry, so we stopped at the western end of the lake and enjoyed our packed lunches. There is a little store right there, so people can buy sandwiches and drinks and snacks if they aren't inclined to bring their own.

Taking a break on Nature's mossy mattress, making that
"earth connection" that is so rejuvenating.

The Olympic Discovery Trail near Lake Crescent.
With lunch done, we started the short drive to the road that takes you to the Sol Duc Hot Springs and campground. But that 14 miles of roadway after the Ranger entry station (It will cost you $15 per car if you don't have a national park pass.) is slow and winding. It will take you about half an hour from the ranger station to the hot springs.

There is also a lovely waterfall to hike up to, but we are going to do that another day.

The water really is this color!! And this clean!
About half-way along the road there is a spot to watch the salmon returning and leaping up the Sol Duc River, but since this was June, there were no fish to be seen. Their return is in the autumn.

Obviously the water is not really green, but it is so clear
that it reflects back the colors of all the trees near it.
Still it was incredibly lovely and peaceful, so we wandered about that location for a bit. It seems that a lot of people go to the Hot Springs for the full day or weekend. We only were there a few hours, but the sulfur heat was really helpful to my back after the workout it got on Saturday and my legs felt refreshed from the bike ride.

The largest pool is about 70 degrees. The closer circle pool
runs very hot, somewhere between 106-109 degrees.
This pool, closest to the administration and showers, is a
comforting 99-100 degrees on average. All sulfur.
We are not sure why the administration of the facility is being so sparing of help on a busy weekend, but it didn't help having to stand in a long line to pay to go in.

Oh, and yes, there is a fee for that as well. $10 per person. Pretty hefty if you have a large family, in my opinion.

You can go to the link to read all the details about this unique experience, and get information if you want to do an overnight visit.

I was quite stunned at the variety of cultures present on this day. I heard Ukrainian being spoken, German, Italian, Mandarin (Chinese), and one other dialect I couldn't identify.

It is very child-friendly, but not pet-friendly. Don't even think about bringing Fido along.

Other tip: wear water 'slippers' because the aggregate surface is really painful to walk on and the other walking surfaces are quite slippery.

There are towels for rent, food at the little restaurant, lots of beverages and sunscreen if you forget to bring it.

All in all, it was a truly delightful day and I'm so glad I've had a chance to see a little more of the paradise I am calling 'home.'


  1. dear Sandy,

    what a delightful post about such a lovely area. and your photos are stunningly beautiful. I am so glad you have been able to explore and experience so much of Mather Nature's lush and enjoyable surroundings - laying in the moss beds and sky gazing sounds so appealing, peaceful, and yes, a profound reconnection with Earth's natural wonders. so glad you and your friends had such a good time. thank you for sharing it.

    much love, my Friend,

    Karen xoxo

    1. We only missed having you along to enjoy it with us, Karen!!

  2. What about the bike? What kind of bike do you ride? I do plenty of that around here, though you may remember the NH hills, pretty annoying, though there are more and more rail trails opening and they are about a 4-6% grade. Beautiful country you have there

  3. I ride a 2013 Trek, 21 speed mountain bike... a lot of bike for what I do with it... not much off-roading. This rail-trail is part of the long-plan Olympic Discovery Trail that will eventually run from the tip (near Neah Bay) all the way down to our capitol, Olympia, we've been told. Come on out and we'll rent you a bike to experience this for yourself!

    1. someday I will get out west again, The trail development all over the world for bikes is a wonderful thing to see. At this time even around here, you can ride from Winchester to Walpole taking the old track right down the road from Hark's Hill in Keene. No hot spring at the 1/2 way point, but some outrageous chocolate and a hot tub upon the return.