Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest, campground and hiking opportunities within a premier example of North America’s temperate rain forest. The Hoh is a must-visit location.

My children and I discovered the Hoh Rainforest in 1992. Having been raised in the greater Los Angeles area, I was used to "rivers" being muddy trickles in the middle of a cement aquaduct wandering toward the Pacific Ocean through industrial jungles.

The Hoh Rain Forest was wonderful. I had no idea that such a magical place as a temperate rain forest could exist on earth, let alone in the USA.

After two glorious, sun-filled days, the rain set in. As we attended a ranger presentation just before leaving, a few guests in the audience feared the rain would ruin their vacations.

Because the Hoh had already made a deep imprint on my soul, I never forgot the words of the ranger as he opened his talk:

"Don't resent the rain! It is because of the rain that we have a rain forest, and without it, you could not enjoy the beauty of the Hoh."

Years later, my hub and I moved to Port Angeles, where we can now return to the Hoh Rainforest as often as possible.

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

Cities Near the Hoh Rainforest

Port Angeles
is approximately 88 miles
 (141.6 km) to the north and east, or about a 2- hour drive from downtown Port Angeles. If Port Angeles is not your starting point...

  • Forks is 31 miles (km) away, or a 47 minute drive
  • Aberdeen is 112 miles (km) distant, or a 2 hour 15 minute drive.

The Hoh: Epitome of a Temperate Rain Forest

On Washington's Olympic Peninsula, tucked in a valley between the Pacific Ocean and the west-facing slopes of the Olympic mountain range, is the Hoh Rainforest and Visitor Center. It is the location - near the Pacific Ocean to the west producing prevailing winds that pile up against the Olympic Mountain Range immediately to the east - that results in a temperate rain forest biome. The Hoh Rain Forest typically experiences lots and lots of rain, 12 - 14 feet annually on average. During the summer when rainfall diminishes, the morning mist waters the forest.

Other characteristics of a temperate rain forest are:

  • The climate rarely freezes
  • Temperatures seldom reach above 80 degrees

The result of location, climate and prodigious rainfall, is a collection of enormous evergreen trees, some deciduous trees, and lots of ferns, lichens, mosses, and berry brambles fed by the rich loamy soil made from millennia of fallen trees, branches, and leaves.

It is no wonder that the region was set apart for future generations as the Olympic National Park.

Though parts of the area outside the Park have been logged over the last century, inside the Park there is plenty remaining of the quiet mystery of moss, fern and lichen and the awe-inspiring native Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. These giants can reach sizes of over 300 feet high and 25 feet in diameter.

Click here for a collection of Hoh Rain Forest photos

Fauna in the Hoh Rainforest

Chickadees, wrens, woodpeckers, nuthatches and thrushes whistle and tweet their way through the trees providing a symphony for Pacific tree frogs, black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk, cougar, Olympic black bear, bobcats, raccoons, banana slugs and their nemesis, the non-native black slug. And, of course, the occasional human, including you, me, and Mick Dodge (see below).

All have made themselves at home amid the moist, draping moss and the understory of big-leaf maples, alder and ferns.

Hoh Visitor Center, Hub of the Hoh

The Hoh Visitor Center, located at the end of Upper Hoh Road, off Hwy 101, south of Forks, WA, is the hub of the Hoh, as most of the walking and hiking trails are accessible at or near the Hoh Visitor Center.

Stopping at the Visitor Center can be very helpful. Ask all your questions about the amazing rainforest or obtain local up-to-the-minute information about trails. Check out the rainforest exhibits, get your wilderness permit, and purchase a gift or souvenir.

The Hoh Visitor Center is:

  • Open daily in summer
  • Closed December through early March
  • Open Friday through Sunday the rest of the year
  • Check current hours by calling: +1-360-374-6925

Hoh Rainforest Hiking

You have your choice of five trails within the Olympic National Park's Hoh Rainforest, ranging from easy to difficult. All will lead through rainforest mosses dripping from maple trees, creeping over fallen trees and carpeting the forest floor. Look for "nurse" trees nurturing the next generation of distinguished sentinels.

  • The Mini Trail is 0.1 mile, flat and paved, accessible for those who need assistance.

  • The Hall of Mosses Trail. This 0.8 mile long trail begins with an initial incline then levels off to a comfortable loop through "halls" of mosses.

  • The Spruce Nature Trail is a 1.2 mile loop providing another opportunity to marvel at rain forest mystery and beauty. This hike will take you to the bank of the Hoh River and then back to the Visitor Center.

These shorter trails are wonderful for giving the essence of the Hoh Rainforest. Choose one, or stroll all of them. They won't disappoint!

(Below: click any photo to open gallery in full size.)

The next two trails are for the experienced and well-conditioned hiker. They may include fording rivers and/or traversing glaciers.

  • The South Snider-Jackson Trail originates 6 miles west of the Visitor Center at the Olympic National Park entrance station. Its 11.8 mile, 2,700-feet ascent and descent will take you to the Bogachiel River.

  • The Hoh River Trail starts near the Hoh Visitor Center. In 17.3 miles, you'll climb 3,700 feet to Glacier Meadows on the shoulder of Mount Olympus.

Five Mile Island is just 5.3 miles along the Hoh River Trail (10.6 miles counting the return hike). Altitude gain is negligible. It's a lovely hike, and sightings of elk are somewhat likely. But, it will feel really long if you're unused to hiking.

If you like, the Hoh River Trail also offers access to an additional hike to Blue Glacier, 0.9 miles beyond Glacier Meadows and 700 feet higher. Along the way catch glimpses of the High Divide and Mount Tom. Backpackers will need to obtain a wilderness permit before proceeding. 

Hoh Campground

The Hoh Campground is situated within the Hoh Rainforest surrounded by lush rainforest. It is open year round, is wheelchair accessible with flush toilets and potable water. Some riverside campsites available. First-come, first-serve.

Many campsites on A Loop and C Loop border the Hoh River, which snakes along beyond the trees in the photo above.

See the Visitor's Map/Brochure of the Hoh Rainforest

Mick Dodge Spells Hoh "Home"

This rainforest story is not complete without mentioning the legendary Mick Dodge, who lives off the land near the Hoh River Valley. The National Geographic channel featured his life in its series, "The Legend of Mick Dodge."

More info at this link: 
Seattle Times story: Hoh Rain Forest Dweller Featured in TV Series


Have You Been to This Beautiful Place?
Tell Your Story and Share Your Photos With Us!

Nature can present us with unexpected, memorable, and breathtaking moments! Do you have a great story or an interesting experience that took place in this beautiful part of the Olympic National Park? We'd love to hear about it! Feel free to share it in the form below. Be as wordy and as descriptive as you like. Include photos as well, if you have them; there is plenty of room for it all on our website.

Just click into the title box below and go from there. When published, you'll have "your own" page on MyPortAngeles which you can share with friends or anyone who asks!

We're happy to ensure professional and amateur photographers get credit for their work. Leave us your name in the form below, and means of contact, website, or FB page info so we can link back to you.

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