Sol Duc, pronounced Soul Duck, is tucked away in the northwest corner of the Olympic National Park. Far from big cities and busy roads, this remote area is one of the best representatives of beauty on the Olympic Peninsula. Just south of the more, well known Lake Crescent area, Sol Duc has played an important part in tourism around the region. What is now a small resort was once the crown jewel of tourism in the Pacific Northwest. Along a gorgeous river, complete with one of the more memorable waterfalls in the country, Sol Duc should be your next destination stop when touring the Olympic Peninsula.
The origins of the name Sol Duc, like most names on the Olympic Peninsula, are up for debate. While the word is Quillayute, the meaning has been lost in time, with leading linguists claiming the origin will never be known. Luckily though, today the meaning of the name Sol Duc is easy to define. It is a place of waterfalls, hot springs and a jumping off point to explore the north side of the Olympic National Park. Many locals and tourists from around the world consider it as one of the most romantic getaways.
Sol Duc wasn’t always a tourism hot spot. Before the resorts, before the creation of the Olympic National Park, Sol Duc was just another spot where a settler laid claim to the land. Ignoring the local Quillayute tribe, a man named Theodore Moritz filled out the proper paperwork and built a cabin near the current lodge along the 78-mile long Sol Duc River. It was the 1880s, and times were rough, so soon, Mr. Moritz passed away and big city entrepreneurs bought his land. By 1910, a road had been built to the area and by 1912, a four story, 165-room hotel had been built. In 1914, despite the start of World War I, over 10,000 people came from all over the world to take a dip in the 130 degree waters, far below the tops of the massive temperate rainforest canopy. Tourists would bathe and drink the waters, hoping that the chemical compound would cure what ailed them. However, if it didn’t allow Theodore Moritz to hold off death, it probably didn’t work for them either. The water wasn’t the only luxury though. As guests arrived in Port Angeles from their cruise ships, they were taken to their fully furnished rooms via private car. Their rooms were amazing, especially since it was the 1910’s. With hot and cold water, electricity and phones inside the rooms, and golfing, tennis and a theater outside, it was one of the most lavish resorts in America.
Like all things that seem too good to be true, this all came to an abrupt end on May 26th, 1916. After 4 years of excess and amazingness on the Olympic Peninsula, a single spark started a fire that burnt down the entire complex in a matter of hours. Rumor has it that the electric organ, hooked up to the PA system, played Beethoven’s “Funeral March” over and over until the fire consumed the speakers.
(To listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZU67jLOJ7I)
A resort was built on the same spot in 1920 and ran as a small resort, without any of the past fanfare well into the 1970’s until it had to be remodeled to fix a problem with the access to the Hot Springs. It is open today and is quite an amazing, romantic and scenic place to rest your head after a long day of hiking, soaking in hot springs and enjoying the Olympic Peninsula.
There are numerous hikes around the Sol Duc area, but the most scenic and infamous hike is a trail that is only .8 miles long one way, but can be made into a 5.3-mile trek through the Lover’s Lane Trail. This is one of the most scenic trails you can do, and if you are in the area at all, you MUST go see Sol Duc Falls. With multiple small falls making up one large waterfall flowing into a gorgeous fern banked gorge, you might just feel like you have traveled back in time to before the resorts and before the European “invasion” of America. The Sol Duc trails take you to a different world and if you are lucky enough to be with a special someone, a kiss here will be a kiss you remember your entire life.
The more intrepid hikers NEED to go to the 7 Lakes Basin!
Resort Information: http://www.olympicnationalparks.com
Other Area Hikes
Lover’s Lane Loop: http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/sol-duc-falls-loop
Seven Lakes Basin: http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/high-divide-loop.htm
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