Falling in love with North Olympic Peninsula's waterfalls
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Sol Duc Falls, seen here last weekend, thunders in Olympic National Park on the West End of the North Olympic Peninsula. -- Photo by Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA Waterfall Trail's 24 falls -- from Neah Bay to Lake Quinault and from the Hoh Rain Forest to the Quilcene River -- are listed on a new brochure from the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau.

For a copy phone 360-452-8552 or 800-942-4042, e-mail waterfalls@olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com, or visit www.OlympicPeninsulaWaterfallTrail.com.
Tip your head back, and let all of your senses be filled.

"There's a primeval feeling," beneath an Olympic Peninsula waterfall, said Lani Doely, a Seattleite who's made many a pilgrimage to the water-and-gravity shows in this part of the world.

"The sound, the water, the coolness: it makes you feel good," Doely mused.

"I hope people come out to the Peninsula, to see these falls," fanning across rock faces, tumbling over cliffs, streaming down sheer mountainsides.

Doely has done much to entice people toward these waterfalls, by shooting photographs of them for the just-released Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail guide.

Cover fours counties

The compact pamphlet covers falls from Wolf Creek and Striped Peak west of Port Angeles to the two-tiered Ludlow Falls near Hood Canal, and from Strawberry Bay Falls on the Pacific coast to Hi Hi Kwitht, a slender cascade near Neah Bay.

Diane Schostak, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau based in Port Angeles, conceived the idea of a waterfall "trail," a map showing 24 falls across four counties: Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Mason and Clallam.

That was a year ago, and the beginning of Schostak's quest for a new way to promote the Peninsula's natural wonders.

She and Mary Brelsford, the bureau's communications manager, went looking for magnificence.

And had only a little trouble finding it.

Take their walk to Spoon Creek Falls, in the Wynoochee Valley on the southern Peninsula.

"We heard it," Schostak recalled, "and we went back and forth, looking. We saw little pseudo-falls. Finally we gave up. We were in the car, leaving, when I saw a little opening in the brush," and there was the trail she sought.

"It was really worth the wait," the drive and the walk, Brelsford added.

The pamphlet and the Web site, www.OlympicPeninsulaWaterfallTrail.com, provide quick descriptions of each destination, a driving map and of course tiny photos, glimpses of the real, roaring thing.

Some waterfalls are slimmer than others, especially this time of year, Brelsford added.

Striped Peak Falls above Salt Creek County Park, for example, has more water during winter and early spring, as does Falls View Falls near Brinnon.

This gives Peninsula residents reason to be glad they live here year-round, so they can see these sights during the non-tourism seasons.

Magical misty tour

Right now, however, the visitor bureau is rolling out its promotion of the "magical misty tour," as 50,000 copies of the pamphlet call it.

Those will be spread around local visitor centers and mailed to people who contact the bureau for an Olympic Peninsula Travel Planner brochure.

"It came to me," Schostak said, "that this is an opportunity to include Grays Harbor County and reach out to Mason County. That hasn't been done a lot . . . but when you put players together, you can do something bigger."

The waterfalls have a powerful allure, Schostak and Brelsford have found. They've counted some 5,400 hits on the Waterfall Trail Web site since they first put it up in April, and visitors have gushed on the site's comment page. They've even stopped by the visitor bureau, in the Port of Port Angeles Headquarters at 338 W. First St., to talk about their travels.

"They're like waterfall groupies," Schostak said.

Doely can understand. Going out to see, hear, smell and feel a waterfall is good for body and mind, she believes.

And like Schostak and the visitor bureau staff, she hopes waterfall-oriented travel will be a tonic for the Peninsula's economic health.

"There's a wonderful diversity," of waterfalls, Schostak added, noting that a few, such as Maple Creek Falls on the upper Hoh River and Hi Hi Kwitht on the east flank of Cape Flattery are accessible only by raft, kayak or boat, while Madison Creek Falls awaits at the end of a short, wheelchair-accessible trail. Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls are also relatively easy walks.

Both Schostak and Brelsford say there's more to experience, beyond the brochure. It's likely people will discover small waterfalls en route to the big ones, Schostak said.

"Getting there is part of the fun," Brelsford added. "The Lewis and Clark in us comes out."


Sequim-Dungeness Valley reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 08. 2009 11:32PM
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