Hoh River Trail - Backpacking/Camping

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About

Summary

The Hoh River Trail gives a stunning opportunity to experience the fascinations of a temperate rain forest and will appeal to all levels of backpackers by offering a rare glimpse into this special ecology.

Written by

Marc Fryt

Distance

17.3 miles

The Hoh River Trail stretches 17.3 miles, one-way, to the Glacier Meadows Campsite located at the base of Mt Olympus.

Destination Distance From Downtown

76.8 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

This trail is suitable for all levels of backpackers. It is well maintained, and there is little elevation gain in the first twelve miles. The trail can even be gauged as a 4 star for those looking to venture to the Glacier Meadows Campsite which averages over 35 miles roundtrip and 3700' of elevation gain.

Time To Complete

3 hours

With 17.3 miles into the Hoh River Valley there is an ample amount of options to choose a simple day hike to a multi-day backpacking trip.

Seasonality

Summer and Fall

The best season for exploring and enjoying this river valley is mid-June to early September due to the immense precipitation this area receives in the fall through spring seasons.

Dog Friendly

No

There is a rule of thumb for the area that dogs are only allowed where vehicles can go. Dogs, even leashed, are not permitted on the trail.

Fees Permits

Yes

Camping at the Hoh Campground is first come, first served costing $20 per night. There are a total of 88 sites available. Wilderness camping along the Hoh River Trail is a $5 per night per person fee. For the Martin Creek Stock Camp, Elk Lake, and Glacier Meadows sites reservations are needed between May 1st to September 30th. Visit the Olympic National Park website for the mailing address to submit reservation requests.

Review

Intro

The Hoh River Trail, situated on the western edge of the Olympic National Park, is the quintessential opportunity to experience the enchantment and rarity of a temperate rainforest, all while being easily accessed along a well-maintained trail with options for every level of backpacker. Unparalleled in beauty, time appears to be fixed as you explore every forested passageway shaped around you by old-growth and draping moss, creating a truly unique world to unite you back with nature.

What Makes It Great

Typically used as an out-and-back trail the Hoh River Trail is a backpacker's wonderland. Although the valley receives over 170 inches of annual precipitation, don't let this deter you, as the summer season washes the area more in sunlight than it does rain. Depending on your hiking experience and conditioning, the trail system offers camping every few miles along the river, and there are even sites available near the visitor's center.

Setting out to explore, the trail is well-maintained and easy on the knees, as there is very little elevation gain for the first twelve miles. Roosevelt elk, black tailed deer, and bald eagles are common inhabitants to the valley and sightings are frequent. While hiking, the rainforest is best observed at a slower pace so as to take in all the particular subtleties that surround you. It will also help you to watch your step, as banana slugs can sometimes be seen criss-crossing the trail.

Rising and twisting above you are moss-coated bigleaf maples and sitka spruce, living cathedrals growing slowly as glaciers. Many of these massive trees cover the forest floor while others end up in the river serving as natural barriers, creating deep emerald pools for local trout and migrating salmon. Allow yourself to be captivated and taken away by all that this primeval forest has to offer along with the tranquility and solitude that can come with a night spent in such a place.

Who is Going to Love It

For those seeking to rejuvenate and restore that visceral connection with nature, the Hoh River Trail rewards the senses in unmatched splendor. Suitable for all levels of backpackers, this trail will beckon you to return year after year to witness its amazing spectacle. 

Of course, for the more ambitious backpackers, there is a 35 mile, round-trip, trek to the Glacier Meadows campsite. Settled up the valley at the base of Mt Olympus, the campsite rewards you for your hard work with staggering views of the Blue Glacier. Even more solitude, pristine alpine meadows, wildlife, and precipitously perched waterfalls greet you as you enter the upper reaches of the valley. Be sure to set aside three to four days fort his trek however, as there is significant distance and elevation (roughly 3700'in the final five miles to the campsite) to be covered.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Seattle, Take I- 5 S, WA-8 and US-12 W to the Wynoochee Valley Road. Take the Devonshire Road exit from US-12 W and continue on the Wynoochee Valley Road. Turn right onto US-101 N and continue on the 101 N for 76.2 miles. Turn right onto the Upper Hoh Road and travel the remaining 18.1 miles to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.

There are several large parking areas and the main trailhead for the Hoh River Trail is just to the east.

This is a National Park so entrance the fee is $20 per private vehicle and is good for seven days if you don't already have a National Park Pass (Annual, Military, Senior, etc.).

Location

Hoh River Trail

WA,
47.860889, -123.936998

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