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Hoh River Trail

Intermediate
 4.6 (41)

This favorite trail along glacier-fed Hoh River is a riot of techincolor, moss-covered trees


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Map Key

17.1

Miles

27.6

KM

Point to Point

5,089' 1,551 m

High

681' 208 m

Low

4,897' 1,493 m

Up

497' 151 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife

Horses are allowed on this trail. No campfires permitted beyond Martin Creek campsite.

Description

The Hoh's major hiking trail is the Hoh River trail, which leads 17.3 miles to Glacier Meadows and Blue Glacier, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus. Most people hike the initial parts of this trail and turn around to retrace their steps once they have been overwhelmed with enough beauty. For this reason, the number of other users drops off after the first few miles, even though this is one of the most heavily used trails in the park.

From the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center area, take the paved loop east for just 0.2 miles to the junction with Hoh River Trail. This well groomed, easy trail ascends the lush river valley along the north bank of the braided Hoh River. The heavily wooded and mossy trail is mostly flat for the first 12 miles. The first good view of the river comes around 1 mile, although you'll likely have heard the rush of its waters over the birdsong much earlier. Spot Mount Tom and the High Divide from here. Pass campsites, two small falls and the impressive Cougar Creek cedar grove. After 5.3 miles, you arrive at Five Mile Island, a meadow-like spot formed by a huge gravel bar. Elk often can be found here and there are good views up valley. This is a worthwhile destination after which many people turn around.

For those continuing on, the trail takes on a more mystical wild feel away from other people. Pass the Happy Four shelter, several more campsites and cross a rickety bridge. After the Olympus summer ranger station and the intersection with Hoh Lake Trail, you start really feeling isolated. Marvel at the blue Hoh River water as you near its source. Wind towards the river and away from it, through meadows and dense forest. Begin an abrupt ascent climbing 3,000 feet over four miles through narrowing valleys and over a gorge via the High Ho Bridge.

The vegetation changes from luxuriant rainforest to drier fir forest. Pass the Martin Creek camping area and marshy Elk Lake. Views of the Mount Olympus glaciers are superb from the north side of the lake. Continue the arduous climb ever southwards, now along Jemrod Creek towards Glacier Meadows in the high country. There is one slide area to navigate, but a helpful rope ladder makes this very do-able. The trail ends at a spectacular overlook on the lateral moraine of the shrinking Blue Glacier. Hear it creak and groan? It is sweeping past you very slowly. Visit the glacier's terminus on the way down by taking the Terminus Primitive Trail to the west.

Flora & Fauna

The 50-mile long wild Hoh River is born high on glacier-capped Mount Olympus and descends 7,000 feet to the Pacific Ocean, fed by snowmelt and rain along the way. The glaciers of its birth grind rock into glacial flour, coloring the river a milky, slate blue. On its descent the river meanders, creating gravel bars and cutting into the lush rainforest along its banks.

Immense fallen conifers are swept downriver and create logjams and quiet pools for salmon. Their spawned-out carcasses feed dozens of aquatic and forest animals and fertilize the soil, bringing riches from the ocean to the forest. In turn, the forest lends stability to the river by preventing massive sediment flushing. Mountain, river, forest, ocean--each part of this ecosystem depends on the other, a tapestry woven together as one naturally functioning unit.

Ferns, moss and huge trees. Elk, deer, bear.

Contacts

Shared By:

Megan W

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 41 votes

#42

Overall
  4.6 from 41 votes
5 Star
61%
4 Star
39%
3 Star
0%
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Trail Rankings

#5

in Washington

#42

Overall
211 Views Last Month
18,277 Since Mar 16, 2015
Intermediate

19%
3%
35%
5%
35%
3%

Photos

Trail maintenance is a BIG job on the Hoh River Trail!
Jun 26, 2017 near Quinault, WA
Rushing side stream
Mar 24, 2015 near Forks, WA
Green More Green on the Trail
Feb 25, 2015 near Forks, WA
Hanging mosses in the Hoh
May 17, 2019 near Forks, WA
Hoh Rainforest Loop
Jul 15, 2019 near Forks, WA
Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park, Washington.
Dec 16, 2016 near Forks, WA

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Check-Ins

Jun 19, 2021
Cameron Booth
From trailhead to Olympus Guard station and return. ~20 miles. 20mi
Sep 4, 2020
William Hepler
First day Trailhead to Elk Lake, 2nd day Elk Lake to Blue Glacier to Olympus Camp, 3rd day Olympus Camp to TrailHead. Incredible challenge, Amazing. 37mi — 48h 00m
Aug 28, 2020
Thomas Horn
5mi
Aug 14, 2020
Michael Young
Aug 10, 2020
Abby Winters
The trail was 17.3 miles to Glacier Meadows, one way. The hike to the glacier (terminal and lateral each) is approximately an additional 0.5 to 1 m… 17.3mi
Aug 8, 2019
Scott Meier
Aug 7, 2019
Sam Ivey
I am a slower hiker who doesn't have the best knee. Estimated time to get back to trailhead was about 8 hours. Yes I walked relatively slow. Take y… 15.1mi — 2h 45m
Aug 6, 2019
Sam Ivey
left from the Olympus Mountain Ranger campsite. 6mi — 16h 00m