Visiting Hoh Rainforest in Washington: A Quick Guide

A tour of the Hoh Rainforest is something you shouldn’t miss when in Olympic National Park. As one of the natural wonders of Washington State, prevalent fog and mist equivalent to 30 inches of rain — make this lush jungle more deserving of being called Hoh “rain” forest.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the Hoh rainforest in Washington, this post will help you prepare well for your visit.

Getting Inside Hoh Rainforest

Reaching this lush green forest is a long drive from anywhere. It’s situated on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. And if you’re willing to drive all the way, it’ll take about 4 hours from Seattle, 3.5 hours from Tacoma, and 5 hours from Portland.

Driving is only a good idea if you don’t mind the long hours of sitting in your car and didn’t want to stop by anywhere else. However, the Hoh rain forest is a place that’s best enjoyed at a laid-back pace. Moreover, you wouldn’t want to miss other amazing sights to see in Olympic National Park.

Alternatively, if you want to maximize time, avoid repeating the long drive, and do even more exploring, you can drive through Olympia and around Lake Crescent going to Hoh. Return through Forks and Port Angeles, then ride the ferry back to Seattle (or Tacoma Narrows bridge if you return to Portland or Tacoma).

Best Time To Visit

Hoh is a great destination you can visit all year round. However, due to the ongoing fight against the pandemic, there are restrictions and trail conditions you need to be aware of. Before you go, check with the park website.

Trails To Visit

You’ll never run out of things to do in Olympic National Park! Once you reach the parking area, don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to learn about the ecosystem of the Hoh. You can pick a map from here, including nature trails, and discover different programs of the ranger station.

Look up as well as down. The thicket of ferns and mosses is just as breathtaking as the canopy above. You’ll see giant trees covered in moss, and sometimes, huge slugs.

Without further ado, here are two trails you can get lost and wander in the Hoh Rainforest.

Also read: Quick and Useful Summer Camp Packing Hacks

Spruce Nature Trail and Hall of Mosses

The Spruce Nature Trail (1.2-mile loop) near the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is one of the most visited. Together with the Hall of Mosses trail, they’re a nice pair of flat, beginner leg-stretchers in the Hoh. Both areas are perfect introduction if you’re bringing kids to explore with you.

Hall of Mosses is 0.8 miles long, while the Spruce Nature Trail is 1.2 miles. Both trails are loops, so if you’re not into hiking or you don’t have much time, you can just pick one trailhead to start with.

Hoh River Trail

Are you looking for a more challenging trail? The Hoh River Trail is a 36-mile adventure that goes all the way to the Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus. But if you simply want to see what’s out there, you can go for a 10-mile trip then make a turn at Five Mile Island.

Hiking along the Hoh River will be an unforgettable experience. The trail slightly goes up and down, and you might have to keep an eye around for an elk surprise and other wildlife! If you’re lucky, you may have a chance to see an endangered spotted owl, deer, raccoon, or some rare cougar or black bear which frequents old-growth forest.

The Hoh River Trail is great for a beginner backpacking trip. If you’re going to camp here, make sure to get ready for rain. Also, you’ll need to secure a wilderness permit which you can get at the Hoh Rainforest visitor center or other wilderness information centers at Olympic National Park.

Things To Bring

The temperate rainforest is a campground, so don’t expect convenient services and be self-sufficient. Bring tons of food and water for your hiking trip. There’s a picnic area where you can enjoy your packed lunch or dinner.

Here are other things recommended for you to bring:

  • Rain jacket
  • Waterproof boots
  • Phone tripod
  • Backup power supply
  • DSLR camera or smartphone with a good camera
  • Flashlight
  • Hat

Let the Forest Be Your Therapy

Whether your hiking in lower or upper Hoh, take the time to get the most out of this unique rainforest environment. Slow your pace and give yourself enough time to be present. Perhaps, spend a few minutes looking up the magnificent height of ancient trees and enjoy the wonderful serenading sounds of birds.

Forest bathing is a therapeutic act of taking in, through all human senses, the nature around you. It’s not simply walking in the woods. It’s the conscious and meditative practice of immersing yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the forest.

You’re not just out for an amazing hike. You’re also on a journey of healing yourself by taking a break from all the stress of day-to-day living.