This trail leads ten miles southwestward from Boulder Creek to the upper Sol Duc River. The trail leads to the head of Boulder Creek then crosses Appleton Pass, elevation 5,100 feet, into the Sol Duc River. This track can be used in conjunction with several other trails in the northwestern portion of the park to form a long backpacking trek.
Begin this hike on the Elwha River Road along Boulder Creek. At roads end leave your car and begin hiking westward along the closed road. The road continues for almost two and a half miles to a parking area. Walk west from the parking area on the northern side of Boulder Creek. Pass the spur trail for Olympic Hot Springs and Boulder Creek Campground and continue westward.
Less than a mile from the campground the trail forks. The right side of the fork leads two and three-quarter miles to Boulder Lake. Follow the left side of the fork to reach Appleton Pass. The Appleton Pass Trail contours west along Boulder Creek for nearly a mile before turning southward to cross it. The route then ascends the southern bank of Boulder Creek, before following switchbacks into the South Fork Boulder Creek Valley.
The trail crosses the South Fork south of Lower Boulder Creek Falls. Beyond this crossing the trail parallels the south fork for a mile before turning slightly westward before beginning to ascend to the headwaters. The trail climbs steadily 650 feet before crossing to the western bank of the South Fork. The forest at this point becomes sparse and the trail rocky. The last mile to the pass is steep gaining approximately 1,215 feet.
On the pass a trail leads eastward. It is Cat Creek Way Trail. The pass is 10 miles from the trailhead. This route continues south of the pass. It descends steadily, following long switchbacks. The beginning of this descent leads through subalpine meadows that provide sweeping views of the terrain south of the pass. These views include the Sol Duc River valley and Mount Olympus.
Continuing into the Sol Duc drainage the trail enters thicker forest as it descends. Two and a half miles from Appleton Pass, and 2,000 feet below it, the trail reaches the Sol Duc Trail. At this junction turn right to reach the trailhead, which is five miles westward.
Directions: From Port Angeles, Follow Highway 101 westward approximately 8 miles to Elwha River Road, a.k.a. Olympic Hot Springs Road. Turn left and follow the river road southward into Olympic National Park. Three miles from Highway 101 you'll reach the Elwha Campground, continue past this facility to the Elwha Ranger Station. (Here you can obtain trail conditions and camping permits.) Beyond the ranger station veer right as the Whiskey Bend Road leads to the left. Follow this road 6 miles to its end and the trailhead for Boulder Creek.
Elevation: 1,800 feet
Ending Elevation: 3,083 feet
Usage: Heavy in Summer
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