Salmon Cascades in June 2016
The Salmon Cascades aren’t probably a waterfall that I’d go out of my to visit if it weren’t for a few things. First, it’s a quick stop along the way to the very impressive Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. Second, if you show up at the right time of the year, you may see salmon jumping up the falls to go further upstream. Hence the name Salmon Cascades.
The falls themselves are only about 5′ tall, so they’re nothing to get too excited about. Depending on how you classify waterfalls, they might not even fall into that category. It’s such a quick stop and short hike to the river, though, that there’s no reason not to take a look.
- From US-101, turn onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. If you’re heading west along US-101, it’s a left turn.
- Drive just over 7 miles to the Salmon Cascades parking area on your right. It’s not a big parking area.
- The falls are a very short jaunt from the parking area.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: negligible (essentially roadside)
Where in the World is Salmon Cascades?
Sol Duc Falls in June 2016
When I first visited Olympic National Park eight years ago, for some reason I skipped Sol Duc Falls. I visited Marymere Falls, Madison Falls, Bunch Falls, and Merriman Falls, but not Sol Duc. I’m guessing it had to do with the required out-of-the-way drive to view the falls.
So when I decided to hop on a plane with my nephew and fly to Seattle, I figured a visit to Olympic National Park was in order. Even with it raining much of the time during my previous visit, it is still one of my favorite places. And now I would get the chance to visit Sol Duc Falls.
We ended up visiting Sol Duc Falls later in the day. We started by driving up Hurricane Ridge, which I had not done the last time (as it was in April). We then stopped by Madison Falls and Marymere Falls, and we still had some time to visit Sol Duc Falls. Honestly, the drive to the falls might be just as long as the hike to the falls. It’s a 12 mile drive to the falls, and then a 12 mile drive back to US-101. The hike, on the other hand, is only about 3/4 of a mile one-way (approximately). I found the hike to be extremely enjoyable, and you’re rewarded with a pretty awesome waterfall. It was much taller than I expected…Based on the pictures, I thought it was smaller.
- From US-101, turn onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.
- Drive 12 miles or so to the parking area for the falls. It’s essentially at the end of the road. (The resort parking is before the falls parking, though you can reach the falls from the resort also.)
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Sol Duc Falls?
Merriman Falls in April 2008
There are at least three interesting waterfalls along South Shore Road in Olympic National Park: Bunch Falls, Merriman Falls, and Gatton Creek Falls (I think). I only fleetingly saw Gatton Creek Falls, so I can’t really say how it compared. Merriman Falls is the less photogenic of the remaining two, as it seems to be blocked by a lot of trees and other things. I thought it was maybe my picture, but then looking online, I realized that others also had not so great pictures of the falls. The one picture I saw really didn’t even have a clear view of the falls.
Nonetheless, the falls are found in an extremely beautiful area. Olympic National Park is one of my favorite national parks, and it has to do with the amazingly lushness of the temperate rain forest. This is one of the national parks I definitely want to visit again, and there are many other waterfalls in the park. A drive down South Shore Road is still worthwhile.
1) From US-101, turn onto South Shore Road.
2) Continue on South Shore Road for a ways and you will pass other waterfalls before coming to Merriman Falls. I would just keep paying attention to the right side of the road, as this is where all of the interesting falls are. You’ll just have to stop on the road somewhere (possibly try to pull off), as there are no parking lots near the waterfalls.
3) You can either turn around at the bridge crossing the Elwha River, or continue onto North Shore Road, which is just as pretty.
Accessibility: 10/10 (roadside)
Where in the World is Merriman Falls?: map
Madison Falls in April 2008
There are a number of waterfalls in Olympic National Park that are fairly easy to get to, and Madison Falls is one of the easiest to get to. There is a paved trail leading right to the falls, and the trail is very short. As you walk along the trail, pay attention to all of the different plant life around you. There is a multitude of ferns, along with a number of different flowering plants.
Madison Falls is taller than it looks in the picture. The view is rather deceiving. There may also be more to the waterfall than can be seen from the platform, but that platform prevents any movement. This is probably a good thing, as otherwise man-made erosion take its toll. The area is extremely beautiful, and should be kept that way.
- From Port Angeles, take US-101 heading west.
- Turn left on Hot Springs Road, heading south. Head a short distance to the parking are for Madison Falls, which I believe is clearly marked. This parking area is right before the fee collection booth for the park, so there is no fee to view the falls.
- Follow the trail to the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: 0.25 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Madison Falls?
The upper portion of Marymere Falls in April 2008
Visiting Marymere Falls makes you feel like you’re in a rain forest…Wait, you are in a rain forest. It’s just much cooler than the kind that you expected. Marymere Falls is found in Olympic National Park, which contains a temperate rain forest.
As you are walking along the trail to the falls, you will pass by beautiful trees covered in mosses. Some of the trees are very large. While there is a very clear path to the falls, it’s hard to deviate from that path because of all the trees, brush, and large ferns.
Once you get to the falls you’ll experience a two-part beauty. It’s almost impossible to see the whole falls. You’ll see the lower half first, which is not as spectacular. Then you’ll see the much more scenic upper half, which is surprisingly tall.
- Enter Olympic National Park on US-101 heading west.
- You will drive on US-101 for a considerable ways. Along your journey, you will come to a rather long lake, Crescent Lake.
- At the west end of Crescent Lake is the parking area for Marymere Falls. It is also known as the Storm King Ranger Station.
- The trail to the falls will be pretty clear. You will end up passing under US-101 right near the beginning.
- There are different viewpoints for the upper falls. Some involve some short but moderately steep climbing, though nothing horribly difficult.
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip
The lower portion of Marymere Falls
Where in the World is Marymere Falls?
Bunch Falls in April 2008
Bunch Falls isn’t one of the most memorable waterfalls I’ve seen, but the scenery around it is amazing. Bunch Falls is found in Olympic National Park, which has a beautiful temperate rain forest setting. Bunch Falls is the third of three noticeable waterfalls along South Shore Rd.
In order to get to Bunch Falls, you have to drive down a more than passable dirt road. It’s a few miles from US-101, though, and the road is relatively narrow. There weren’t a significant number of other cars when I visited in late April, but every once in a while somebody would pass.
- From US-101, turn onto South Shore Road.
- Continue on South Shore Road for a ways and you will pass other waterfalls before coming to Bunch Falls. I would just keep paying attention to the right side of the road, as this is where all of the interesting falls are. You’ll just have to stop on the road somewhere (possibly try to pull off), as there are no parking lots near the waterfalls.
- You can either turn around at the bridge crossing the Elwha River, or continue onto North Shore Road, which is just as pretty.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside
Small falls near Bunch Falls
Where in the World is Bunch Falls?