Deer Lake, Sol Duc Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Deer Lake - 6.8 miles

Sol Duc Trailhead

Old growth fir lines the trail to Deer Lake

Old growth fir lines the trail to Deer Lake

Round-Trip Length: 6.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 1,882' - 3,522' (3,532' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,640' net elevation gain (+1,702' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Deer Lake - 6.8 Miles Round-Trip

Deer Lake is located 3.4 miles from the Sol Duc Trailhead in Olympic National Park. It occupies a wooded basin in the transition zone from montane to subalpine forest. Deer Lake's modest distance is ideal for families, or a first night layover on the way to 7 Lakes Basin. Visitors will enjoy stops at Sol Duc Falls and Canyon Creek Bridge en route to Deer Lake:

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail runs mildly beneath towering old growth to a wide bridge spanning Sol Duc Falls (.8 miles : 1,927'), an iconic three prong fall that plunges into a deep canyon on the Sol Duc River. It remains level to the Lovers Lane Trail split (.9 miles), where the Deer Lake Trail branches south and begins a fairly steep, rugged climb with little reprieve all the way to Deer Lake.

The trail rises quickly beneath uniformly tall fir and an ethereal huckleberry understory to the Canyon Creek Bridge (1.8 miles : 2,395'). Steady climbing resumes to the first Canyon Creek campsite (2.05 miles : 2,623'), and to the third beyond which campfires are not permitted (2.9 miles : 3,275').

The trail reaches a footbridge spanning Deer Lake's outlet (3.4 miles : 3,527'), where it splits around the lake to various campsites and viewpoints. Explore Deer Lake's grassy south shore, or backtrack to a voluminous cascade just below the outlet bridge. 

Those with time should continue another .9 miles and 500' up from the lake into big, open slopes with a network of meadows, ponds and streams. Also consider a detour along Lovers Lane, which runs level along the Sol Duc River through impressive old growth.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 57.299 W123 50.104 — 0.0 miles : Sol Duc Trailhead
  • N47 57.113 W123 49.188 — .8 miles : Sol Duc Falls
  • N47 57.059 W123 49.257 — .9 miles : Lovers Lane Trail split; begin steep climb
  • N47 56.677 W123 49.401 — 1.6 miles : Canyon Creek Bridge
  • N47 56.511 W123 49.283 — 2.05 miles : Canyon Creek Campsite #1
  • N47 56.146 W123 49.302 — 2.6 miles : Steep, steady, rugged climb
  • N47 55.927 W123 49.410 — 2.9 miles : Last site with permissible fires
  • N47 55.684 W123 49.455 — 3.4 miles : Deer Lake outlet bridge
  • N47 55.546 W123 49.355 — 3.8 miles : Trail split for Little Divide and High Divide

Worth Noting

  • Sol Duc is one of the most heavily visited areas in Olympic National Park. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.
  • Huckleberry blankets the lower forest floor, producing edible berries by mid summer.
  • There are several worthwhile attractions along Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. Consider a short walk along the Ancient Groves Nature Trail, or up to Salmon Cascade.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin area, including Mink Lake. 50% of sites can be reserved in advance. The other 50% is available first come, first served from the WIC during business hours up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Permits for quota areas must be picked up at the WIC, or a staffed ranger station during business hours.
  • There's a $5 per person - per night fee to backcountry camp in Olympic National Park (children under 15 excluded). If you don't have access to a WIC, or plan to arrive early or late, call the WIC to arrange advance pickup.
  • Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance.
  • Camping is permitted only in designated sites. Deviation from your permit itinerary is not allowed, except in emergencies.
  • Campsites are not individually assigned, and available to permit holders on a first come, first served basis. Groups of 7-12 people must camp in designated group sites within quota areas.
  • Campfires are allowed below 3,500'. Fires are not permitted at Mink Lake or Deer Lake.
  • Food Storage and Bear Canisters: All food and scented items must be secured 24 hours a day. Park- approved bear canisters are required in the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin, including Mink Lake and Deer Lake.

Fishing Information

  • A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore. No license is required to harvest surf smelt.

  • A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters. Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Contact the Park before setting out.

  • Recreational fishing in freshwater areas of Olympic National Park is restricted to artificial lures with single, barbless hooks (exceptions may apply).

  • The use of seines, traps, drugs, explosives, and nets (except to land a legally hooked fish or dip-net smelt) are prohibited.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 fee to enter Olympic National Park ($50 annual pass).

  • Pets are not permitted on trails. Pets are permitted in campgrounds and must be leashed at all times.

Directions to Trailhead

The Sol Duc Trailhead is located 40.2 miles from Port Angeles at the end of Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

From Port Angeles, head west on US 101 approximately 28 miles to Sol Duc Hot Springs Road (marked by large NPS sign along highway). Continue 12.2 miles to the trailhead.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Road is closed seasonally due to weather. Call ahead for road conditions and accessibility.

Contact Information

Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362-6798

Visitor Information: 360.565.3130

Road & Weather Hotline: 360.565.3131

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort: 866.476.5382

Wilderness Information Center and Backcountry Permit Office (WIC)

Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center

Quinault Wilderness Information Office

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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