Sol Duc, S. Fork, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV+ (for normal flows)|
|Max Gradient||130 fpm|
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
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
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.
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.