Heart Lake, Sol Duc Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Heart Lake - 15.7 miles
Sol Duc Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||15.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||1,882' - 4,744' (4,744' max elevation at lake)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,862' net elevation gain (+3,415' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Heart Lake - 15.7 Miles Round-Trip
Heart Lake (4,744') is located 7.85 miles from Sol Duc Trailhead in Olympic National Park. The Sol Duc River Trail runs through archetypal old growth and high subalpine meadows to the lake, and continues .45 miles above to the High Divide - Cat Basin junction (5,042').
Though most aim for Heart Lake as part of the High Divide Loop or Bailey Traverse, moderate grades and good maintenance make it an achievable day hike. It's comparable to Lunch Lake in distance, but with less roundtrip elevation gain and fewer tricky sections when snow covered.
Heart Lake is fairly small but occupies a large, open basin with an alpine feel. Campsites are limited and strict overnight quotas apply. Call well in advance to secure permits and plan your trip:
The trail runs level from the parking area to the Sol Duc River Trail - High Divide Loop split (.75 miles). Sol Duc Falls is located .05 miles down the right fork, a worthwhile detour. The Sol Duc River Trail veers left and traces the north bank through well-structured old growth that can reach dizzying heights and impressive girths. Huckleberry carpets this relatively open understory.
The trail moves steadily to Sol Duc River campsite #1 (2.3 miles : 2,170') and #2 (3.2 miles : 2,285'), past which grades steepen in rugged spurts to #3 (3.95 miles : 2,665') and #4 (4.35 miles : 2,785'). Apart from campsites river access is limited, but a few waterfalls are visible en route to the Appleton Pass Trail split (4.9 miles : 3,082').
The trail crosses a two-part bridge over Rocky Creek to the campsite (5.0 miles), and continues in a more diversified forest to the Seven Mile Bridge and Sol Duc Crossing Campsite (5.7 miles : 3,215'). Fires are not permitted beyond this campsite.
Travel steepens considerably past Sol Duc Crossing on switchbacks up the south valley wall. Timber thins on this rapid climb with glimpses of Mount Appleton and the upper Sol Duc valley. A waterfall on Bridge Creek is visible off-trail on this methodical climb, but access is discouraged.
The trail crests and drops to a log bridge at Lower Bridge Creek Campsite (6.35 miles : 3,820'). Cross the bridge and wind through brushy meadows with spurs for designated sites. Steady climbing resumes in a subalpine forest with expanding views across the north wall of Sol Duc. Travel moderates to Sol Duc Park, a cluster of campsites along Bridge Creek (7.0 miles : 4,135').
Keep right at the fork in Sol Duc Park meadow and hop the wide stream. The trail steepens into a high subalpine landscape with good views across the upper valley. It follows the creek to its source at Heart Lake (7.85 miles : 4,744').
The main trail continues straight up the shore and winds across steep, open slopes to the High Divide - Cat Basin junction (8.3 miles : 5,042'). Spurs lead around the lake and off the main trail to various campsites. Remain on existing, designated paths to minimize impact on this high-use area.
- N47 57.290 W123 50.100 — 0.0 miles : Sol Duc Trailhead
- N47 57.119 W123 49.256 — .75 miles : Sol Duc River Trail - High Divide Loop split
- N47 56.790 W123 47.553 — 2.3 miles : Sol Duc River Campsite #1
- N47 56.398 W123 46.787 — 3.15 miles : Sol Duc River Campsite #2
- N47 56.096 W123 46.128 — 3.95 miles : Sol Duc River Campsite #3
- N47 56.094 W123 45.688 — 4.35 miles : Sol Duc River Camp #4
- N47 55.934 W123 45.011 — 4.9 miles : Appleton Pass Trail split
- N47 55.913 W123 44.924 — 5.0 miles : Cross bridge over Rocky Creek
- N47 55.849 W123 44.316 — 5.7 miles : Cross Seven Mile Footbridge
- N47 55.466 W123 44.086 — 6.35 miles : Cross bridge at Lower Bridge Creek Camp
- N47 55.172 W123 43.727 — 7.0 miles : Sol Duc Park Camp
- N47 54.928 W123 43.798 — 7.4 miles : Reach open basin under lake headwall
- N47 54.677 W123 43.914 — 7.8 miles : Campsite spur
- N47 54.648 W123 43.983 — 7.85 miles : Heart Lake
- N47 54.468 W123 44.294 — 8.3 miles : High Divide - Cat Basin junction
- Designated campsites and lakes within the basin see heavy traffic, and many unintended social trails have formed between them. Support re-vegetation efforts by staying on designated paths.
- Habituated mountain goats live in this area. Goats are drawn to salts found in human waste and sweaty clothes. Maintain a respectful distance, and follow guidelines for disposing waste.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- Permits are required for all overnight stays in Olympic National Park. Contact the Wilderness Information Center (360.565.3100) for backcountry camping reservations, permits, and trail conditions. Visit the WIC: 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
- Quotas and Reservations are in effect May 1 - September 30 for the Sol Duc - Seven Lakes Basin area. 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 your permit in advance.
- Reservations may be made no more than 30 days in advance.
- Camping is permitted only in designated sites within quota areas. 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.
- Campfires are not permitted above 3,500'. Restrictions include (but are not limited to) Deer Lake, Lunch Lake, Hoh Lake, High Divide, Heart Lake, and Sol Duc Park.
- Food Storage: 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.
- A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore.
- 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.
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