Olympic National Park: Hoh Rainforest
Filled with every imaginable shade of green, the Hoh Rain Forest is one of the most spectacular temperate rain forests in the world. Fallen, moss-covered trees, grazing Roosevelt elk, and the milky Hoh River all intertwine to create an ecosystem that breathes life into your visit.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Hoh Rain Forest?
There is no bad time to visit the Hoh Rain Forest. However, you'll be in for a real treat if you manage to visit when it is raining and wet because that is when the moss is at its most lush and green. The wet season, in winter and early spring, is also the best time to see Roosevelt Elk in this part of the park since they tend to move to higher elevations during the warmer summer months.
Luckily, the Hoh Rain Forest receives 140-170 inches of rain every year (that's 12-14 feet!), plus condensed mist and fog that contributes another 30 inches of water, so you're likely to find the rain forest in fine form whenever you visit.
Hoh Rain Forest Lodging
If you don't feel like camping in the rain, Kalaloch Lodge is one of the closest lodging options to the Hoh Rain Forest. Located inside Olympic National Park, Kalaloch provides an array of cozy rooms and cabins only steps from the Pacific Ocean.
Trails to Explore
Easy walking trails like the Hall of Mosses (0.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles) introduce you to old-growth forests filled with the grand Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and maples draped in moss that are the essence of the rain forest.
The more ambitious hiker can find small waterfalls, cascades and a glimpse of the snow-covered mountains with a hike to 5-Mile Island (12.25 miles round-trip). The trail is relatively flat and easy walking. Elk can often be found along this trail, especially during early summer or late fall. Lucky hikers may also encounter salmon, eagles and black bears.
Backpackers continue beyond that along the Hoh River Trail (17.4 miles one-way) into the heart of Olympic National Park. The first 13 miles of this trail are relatively flat, then climbs steeply to the shoulder of Mount Olympus. An extra 700 foot climb beyond that leads you to views of the magnificent Blue Glacier, the source of the Hoh River. (Climbing Mount Olympus (7,979 feet) is technical and requires expertise and the appropriate equipment.)
Another alternative is the Hoh Lake Trail which splits off the Hoh River Trail, and leads up 22 switchbacks to Bogachiel Peak, between the Hoh and Sol Duc valleys (6.4 miles).