One of the reasons to visit Olympic National Park is that it is one of the most unique biomes in the continental United States, if not the world. Although there are many factors that have led to Olympic National Park becoming such a unique location, one of the factors has been the frequent and abundant rainfall that the region has received throughout the years. Even though rainfall totals vary, in general, the park receives at least 140 inches of rain per year; and all of the rainfall that the park receives has also led to the formation of large rivers, and spectacular waterfalls. While the park has many accessible waterfalls that visitors can view and explore, the easiest waterfall to view and visit is Merriman Falls, even though the waterfall is technically slightly outside of the park’s boundaries in the Olympic National Forest.
Merriman Falls is a forty-foot tall waterfall that is located in the Quinault Rainforest, and is also a waterfall that does not require a hike to visit. Year-round, it is visible from the South Shore Lake Quinault Road, along with its accompanying lush, green vegetation on the edge of the temperature rainforest. Best of all, although it is not a secret by any stretch of the imagination, it is a location that is not overly busy, as the Quinault Rainforest region of Olympic National Park is not heavily visited. Moreover, the section of road that the falls are on is not visited by many people, except for those heading toward Graves Creek, or driving around the lake. However, even for visitors traveling around the lake, or to destinations further inland, it is possible to miss Merriman Falls, as it is slightly set back under the tree canopy of the rainforest. All of these factors mean that Merriman Falls is the Olympic Peninsula’s and Olympic National Park’s easiest waterfall to explore, and even better yet, a location that will also likely provide some peace, quiet, and serenity.
Directions: Merriman Falls is located six (6) miles to the east of the Highway 101/South Shore Road of Lake Quinault. The falls are unsigned along the road, and there is only a small dirt pull-out area for the falls from the road. The best way to find the falls is to either set one’s odometer at the junction of Highway 101 and South Shore Road before driving six miles east, or to set one’s odometer at the Lake Quinault Lodge and then proceed four miles east along South Shore Road. Either way, the falls will be located directly to the right (South) of the road at that mark. Another helpful tip is that the Colonel Bob Trailhead (which is signed) is slightly before the pull out for Merriman Falls by about .10 of a mile. From the road, the falls are readily apparent, and visitors can walk down to their base, and hike and explore around it for as long as one likes.
Tips: Although one can access the top of the falls via a series of use trails, such trails should be treated cautiously as the terrain is slippery due to the frequent rainfall in the area, and their proximity to the falls.