“This is an enjoyable out-and-back trip to visit Upper and Lower Boulder Creek Falls.”
— Megan W
Birding · River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildlife
How often do you get hot springs and waterfalls on the same trip? This mellow run has delightful examples of both.
Need to Know
There is often nudity at the hot springs, so if you're squeamish about this just don't take the detour to the springs.
Often muddy with downed trees early in the season.
Park at the end of the Elwha River Road (also called the Olympic Hot Springs
Road) and follow the remnants of this closed road west for about 2.5 miles on mellow grades, hopping over the occasional stream. This old closed road is considered the Olympic Hot Springs Trail
and soon arrives at a suspension bridge to cross Crystal Creek. Next pass the former parking lot which is now an alder filled meadow. At this point, you can take a detour across Boulder Creek to visit the stinky hot springs, or continue west on the Appleton Pass Trail
The Appleton Pass Trail
goes past the Boulder Creek campground which was formerly used for car camping. Now it is a run to a camping spot with pit toilets but no water source. Continue on the trail through dense forest along the north side of Boulder Creek, past the intersection with the Boulder Lake Trail
. Cross the North Fork of Boulder Creek on a log bridge and listen for the sounds of Upper and Lower Boulder Creek Falls. These cascades have worn deep grooves and are worth the short side trips to visit, especially after a good rain or during the spring snow melt. This is the turn around point so spend some time exploring here before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.