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If you're considering a visit to Lake Sutherland, in Washington's Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Coast Region, you're in for a real treat! The all-sports lake lies within one of the most scenic areas of the northwest and brags having about the best kokanee salmon fishing anywhere. Only 10 miles south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the clear waters lie nearly at the edge of majestic Olympia National Park and Forest. Mount Angeles rises 6454 feet on the southern horizon. The 361-acre lake is surrounded with vacation cottages and year-round homes. Mostly private, there is fishing access at one spot along the shore. Because so many of the residences are seasonal, the lake is surprisingly uncrowded most of the time.
Lake Sutherland was named after John J Sutherland; the first settler to build a cabin along the shore in 1856. What Mr Sutherland didn't know was that Lake Sutherland was once the eastern portion of much bigger Lake Crescent. The large glacial lake was separated by a massive landslide from Stormking Mountain in dim pre-history, resulting in several distinct fish species evolving in Lake Crescent. This didn't happen at Lake Sutherland as diverse species still had access to the lake via Indian Creek, tributary of the Elwha River. Lake Sutherland lost it's access to ocean-going fish when dams were built on the Elwha River in 1913, leaving the landlocked kokanee salmon in the lake. The landlocked salmon now spawn in Lake Sutherland then swim downstream to Lake Aldwell behind the dam for the season. As the dam is scheduled for removal, a more normal migration pattern is expected to resume.
Of glacial origin, Lake Sutherland is somewhat warmer than neighboring Lake Crescent as it is considerably shallower. Water contact activities are thus more attractive here than at some area lakes: swimming is popular, as are sailing, wind-surfing, water-skiing, tubing and jet skiing. More residents and visitors likely engage in canoeing and kayaking than power boating simply because the area attracts nature lovers, hikers and explorers of the nearby Olympic National Forest. A great many of the residences along the shore are available for lease as vacation rentals much of the year. The somewhat exclusive area boasts much higher-value real estate and the visitor who selects lodgings here can expect all of the amenities.
Fishermen plan for months for fishing trips to Lake Sutherland. A premier kokanee sockeye salmon fishery, the lake also holds a good supply of cutthroat and rainbow trout. An active stocking schedule assures a good supply of 'keeper'-sized trout from the hatcheries on the Sol Duc River every year. The lake greets returning generations of fishermen each year. New visitors are regularly recruited via the well-exercised bragging rights of successful past fishermen. The ice-free temperate climate allows fishing on open water year round.
A prefect spot to act as home base for an extended vacation, Lake Sutherland is located only 17 miles from the port city of Port Angeles. Here, one can take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island or enjoy a chartered fishing trip. The small city offers all amenities a visitor might want, including movies, night life and shopping. The headquarters for Olympic National Park are located in Port Angeles and the road to famed Hurricane Ridge goes south out of town. Here, the non-hiker can drive up 5240 feet to view the breath-taking vistas within the mostly roadless park. A few short miles up the shore, one comes upon Sequim, with plenty of golf courses, public beaches and boat launches. Home of the famed Dungeness crabs, Dungeness sand spit (the longest in the United States) provides for the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Farther east, the quaint Victorian seaport of Port Washington boasts Fort Worden State Park, with a musical venue in a renovated WWI blimp hanger where concerts are regularly held. Jazz and Blues festivals occur regularly here. Bicycling routes are available along the entire journey.
Going west from Port Angeles, one can follow the coastal road to view whales, watch bald eagles hunting along the shore and end up at Neah Bay, home of the Makah Native Americans. A cultural museum at Neah Bay includes archeological discoveries that are the result of uncovering a 500 year old village buried by a landslide; exhibits include a longhouse, canoes, artwork, daily living and fishing tools. More extensive exhibits/tours are available with reservations. Going south from Neah Bay, one can stop at First Beach in the La Push area for beautiful views of the amazing sea stacks along the coastline. Near La Push, one can find the trailheads for entering the Hoh and Quinault Rainforests. The Hoh supports the largest unmanaged elk herd in the world and gets 12 to 14 feet of rain a year! Only 50 miles from lake Sutherland, it's an easy day trip.
Four of the famed waterfalls on the Olympic Waterfall Trails are in the Lake Sutherland area. Maps are available on-line and at the Ranger Stations. And, no one can visit this area of Olympic national Park without at least one visit to the Sol Duc Hot Springs. Formerly a private therapeutic mineral springs resort, the property was purchased by the National Park Service in 1920s. It is now operated by a concessionaire and visits to the pools are kept at very reasonable cost. And a pleasant afternoon can be had cycling or hiking the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent. The trail is an old railroad bed once used to transport spruce lumber for aircraft use. Restoration work is being done on the two tunnels along the rail bed and then they, too, will be opened to the public.
Limited improved camping facilities are available in the Lake Sutherland area but there are many wilderness camping areas in the nearby National Forest. So, camper or cottager, there's a perfect spot near Lake Sutherland for you. Spend a week or a month . . or even the entire season exploring all that the Olympic Peninsula has to offer. The perfect lake, the perfect vacation rental and the perfect place to tour nature's majesty: come to Lake Sutherland and begin your personal odyssey.
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