FUN FACT: Fun river when there's water to fill in the boulder gardens.
SEASON: Winter rain storms. Generally best when rivers are moderately high but not flooding.
ACCESS: From Highway 101 mile 216.4 turn south on FR 2918. Follow this road to mile 3.0 and the bridge across the Soleduck. This is the takeout or use an access downstream closer to Highway 101. To reach the put-in continue up FR 2918 (bear left at the fork) and get a visual peak at the level from the bridge at mile 4.1. Continue on up to mile 5.5 and turn right on FR 2920. It's 0.2 miles to the bridge across the South Fork.
If you arrive to run the Sol Duc in mid-winter and find the gate to the National Park road locked you can always go and run the South Fork. This is a great little run with constant action all the way to the confluence of the Sol Duc, a distance of 1.8 miles. It's one of those runs that packs plenty of action into a short distance. Once on the Sol Duc you still have another 1.5 miles of fun whitewater including the nice ledge drop upstream of the gauge station.
You can get an idea of flows as you cross the South Fork at its confluence with the mainstem about halfway on the shuttle to the put-in. If you've got enough water to bounce down through these boulder gardens under the bridge across the South Fork, the gorge section will still be really fun. If the rocks are all covered and the river is high you'll probably have your hands full in the gorge. Look for something in between.
The run starts out with continuous boulder gardens and short little ledges for about a mile or so. You'll be moving fast and the eddies are tight. There is a lot of wood in this system so stay alert and keep your spacing as you may have to make a portage or two.
As the bedrock walls rise up on both sides of the river you enter the gorge. The gorge has about 5 great rapids with the entrance rapid and Ross's Drop standing out as the most challenging of the sequence. These drops are mostly IV+ with good recovery sections in between but at higher flows this whole section becomes class V. Expect to encounter a couple of holes. Use caution as portaging can be difficult and log hazards can be significant.
The gorge walls slowly peel back with more fun class III rapids and a beautiful waterfall that cascades in from the left, before you reach the confluence of Tom Creek. The FR 2918 Bridge and the confluence with the Soleduck is just around the corner. The river then dumps into the main stem for the final section of the Upper Sol Duc run.
for additional information see
The South Fork Sol Duc Gorge. You will recognize the approach by a steep slope on river left and a floodplain terrace on river left as the river takes a hard bend to the right and then turns back left to drop into the gorge.
South Fork confluence with mainstem Sol Duc.
As of 1DEC03, the drops in the gorge were clean.
7 years ago
by Thomas O'Keefe
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
There is an old USGS gauging station (stn. 12041500, 1917-1980) with an intact staff gauge just below the confluence of the South Fork, North Fork, and mainstem. From the access points for this run it's a bit out of the way (it's on river right which you need to access through Olympic National Park). To reach it, go to Highway 101 mile 219.2 and follow Soleduck Hot Springs Road south to mile 4.9. Look for a six-car pullout on the west shoulder of the road and a small brown trail sign marking a hiking route on the east side of the road. Follow the more hidden trail to the gauge on the west side of the road, directly opposite the hiking trail, down to the concrete gauging tower on river right. The staff gauge plate is on the downstream side of the tower and the base of the ladder is at 3.4 feet. You can bounce down around 3.0' but something around 4.0' would be better. For those trying to assess the run from a remote location check the Hoh River gauge (look for it to be up around 4000).
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Emma on South Fork Gorge
South Fork Gorge
Gorge, Second Segment
South Fork Sol Duc
South Fork Soleduck
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The extensive road network in Olympic National Forest has deteriorated over the last few years with the reduction in logging intensity and corresponding lack of routine maintenance. The road failures have resulted in destruction of aquatic habitat and reduced access. Repair work and decommissioning has begun with the introduction of a new road management plan in fall 2002.
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