The Hoh Rainforest, the most famous temperate rainforest in the United States, is so gorgeous it is hard to recommend just one trail. That is why Exotic Hikes has put together a day hiking event that will give you a fantastic day in the Hoh. Whether you visit on a rare sunny day or experience the rainforest in its signature dampness, the following trails will be perfect for hikers of any age and ability.
To start your journey, explore around the small, yet educational Hoh Ranger Station Visitor Center to learn about the region. The ranger working can tell you everything going on in the region, including when the elk were last seen on the trail. They also have a nifty chart of recent rainfall totals, which is incredible to look at if you aren’t from the always wet Olympic Peninsula. The Hoh Rainforest gets well over 10 feet of rain a year!
VISITOR CENTER AND HALL OF MOSSES
After learning about the region, take a quick stroll around the Hall of Mosses Trail. At a little over 1 mile long, this loop trail is a must-walk experience. Here you will see huge nurse logs, moss-filled streams, and giant maple, fir and cedar trees. Sword ferns line the trail and millions of hues of green are visible as far as the eye can see. This trail is a perfect introduction to the Hoh rainforest, but don’t stop here; it gets better!
SPRUCE NATURE TRAIL
From the Hall of Mosses Trail, follow the signs for the Spruce Nature trail, which is 1.25 miles long. This loop trail provides even more unique rainforest beauty, with more small creeks surrounded by mossy trees and ferns, as well as a chance to stand on the banks of the mighty Hoh River. During the fall months, this trail provides excellent opportunities to see eagles, salmon and elk.
After you have seen the Hall of Mosses and the Spruce Nature Trail, it is time to actually take a hike along the Hoh River. Unlike most other trails in the Olympic National Park, the Hoh River Trail is mostly flat and extremely easy to walk. While you can follow the Hoh River Trail all the way to the Summit of Mount Olympus, we feel that to best get a feel for the region, one should take a day hike to 5 Mile Island.
HOH RIVER TRAIL
For the best experience Olympic National Park rainforest experience, head down the Hoh River Trail to 5 Mile Island. While the Hoh Rainforest brings visitors from around the world, few actually take the time to venture down the Hoh River. The trail to 5 Mile island, named because it is about 5 miles from the visitor center, is mostly flat, but lined with giant cedars, spruce, fir trees and endless ferns. For most, this trail gets you into the true rainforest.
With wooden bridges, streams and the occasional view of the mountains leading to Mount Olympus, this walk becomes a step back in time. With each mile behind you hike, you get deeper and deeper into the moss-covered wilderness. No matter what the weather, the rainforest canopy does a good job at shielding the sun or rain from you. At about four miles in, the trail becomes even better, with giant cedars looming high overhead, the majority of which are hundreds of years old.
Elk herds visit these trails often in the early summer and late fall. Salmon, eagles and an occasional black bear may also be visible. Since the trail is flat, it can be done by all levels of hikers and is a perfect introduction to longer hikes. If you want to see an old shelter, hike a half mile further to see the Happy Four Shelter, one of many emergency shelters on the Olympic Peninsula.
TRAIL INFORMATION AND DIRECTIONS
Distance: 12.25 Miles
Elevation Gain: 200 Feet
WORRIED ABOUT DISTANCE?
Yes, this entire route may be 12 miles long, but you are in the rainforest of the Olympic National Park. We know walking long distances is not in everyone’s skill set, but it should be. The hikes along the Hoh River are a good test at where you are as far as physical health is concerned. Unless you have a serious injury, you should be able to walk this trail. It is ridiculously flat, extremely well marked and maintained and worth every step. Sure, you might be tired at the end, but isn’t being a little tired worth knowing that you have walked along the most beautiful section of rainforest in the contiguous United States?
We want you to live a long time, and hiking will help do that. Get in shape, start hiking every week and explore the beauty of the Olympic National Park this weekend!
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