A coho salmon leaps out of the swirling waters of the Salmon Cascades. Peninsula Daily News

A coho salmon leaps out of the swirling waters of the Salmon Cascades. Peninsula Daily News

WEEKEND: Sol Duc good place to watch for salmon

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — This is an ideal time for nature watchers to get a close-up view of salmon migrating back to the North Olympic Peninsula streams of their birth to spawn.

There are salmon in rivers from the Hoh and Queets in the West End to the Dungeness River below the salmon hatchery to the Lower Quilcene in Jefferson County.

One of the best places to get a front-row seat to see a salmon run is at the Salmon Cascades in the Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park.

Salmon leap

A collection of boulders and small shoots at the Cascades gives viewers the chance to see the coho leaping through the water.

There are no guarantees. The run of coho, also known as silver salmon, can be hit or miss at times.

But chances are good that this weekend and through the coming week, you’ll see dozens of coho cruising the pools below the Cascades and jumping through the swirling waters to move upstream.

“Coho salmon have been actively ascending the Salmon Cascades on the Sol Duc River in Olympic National Park over the last 10 days,” said Sam J. Brenkman, the park’s chief fisheries biologist.

“This unique population of wild summer coho primarily spawns in the park.

“These fish appeared at the Salmon Cascades later than normal this year due to the prolonged low-flows in the river.

“We anticipate great viewing at the Cascades for another week or two,” he continued.

“The recent rainfall enticed fish up into the park. We are now observing large, mature fish in the upper river, and spawning began last week.

“Olympic National Park fisheries crews will continue to monitor this population on a weekly basis through November to estimate the number of returning fish to the park.

“These surveys are conducted in coordination with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Quileute tribe,” Brenkman said.

How to get there

The Salmon Cascades are 28 miles west of Port Angeles.

Head south off U.S. Highway 101 at Milepost 219 and drive into the national park on Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

Six miles down the road, you’ll find the well-marked parking area for the Cascades.

A short stroll takes you to a viewing platform above the Cascades. It is wheelchair-accessible.

Or you can walk just downstream. You usually can spot salmon milling in the pools below, waiting to plunge through the thunderous waters.

Bring your camera — but not your fishing rod.

The Salmon Cascades are closed to fishing.

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