The Hoh Rainforest is one of the most popular areas of Olympic National Park. Located on the west side of the park near Forks, Washington, Hoh Rainforest is beautiful, but it can be a little difficult to visit. This is for two reasons. First, it is on the remote side of the park, which makes it a longer drive. Second, despite the remoteness, Hoh is really crowded.
We highly recommend arriving at Hoh in the early morning or late afternoon. We got there at about 8:30 am, and there was no line. When we left, the wait to park was “more than 2 hours.” This is because park rangers don’t allow vehicles in to the rainforest unless cars leave. They have vehicles stop and line up with approximate wait times posted. If you don’t want to sit in that line, get there before 8 o’clock or after 4:00 pm. We visited Hoh Rainforest on a Thursday in August, and it was still packed with cars.
The Visitor Center is small, but there are a few small displays about the rainforest and the animals that live there. We stamped our passports and picked up our Junior Rangers. There is also a small store with a few souvenirs.
At Hoh Rainforest there are three main hikes. Two of the hikes are family friendly, and we did both. The third is much longer and follows the river. We’ve written about both family hikes in the Hoh Rainforest. Below are brief descriptions, but you can read our full reviews by clicking on each link.
The Hall of Mosses was our favorite hike in this area. We walked through a dark, forbidding forest among colossal trees with green beards hanging from their branches. The sunlight was almost entirely blocked in this Tolkein-esque forest. The drive to Hoh Rainforest is worth doing this hike, even though it is a little less than a mile roundtrip.
The Spruce Nature Trail is nearly as nice as the Hall of Mosses. The trail is a little more open, leaving you a chance to see an animal or two. There is some standing water that is crystal clear, as well as a large open area overlooking the Hoh River.
Hoh River Trail
We did not hike the Hoh River trail because we headed to other areas of the park, but this trail is one of the most popular backpacking trails in Olympic National Park. It goes for 18.5 miles to Mount Olympus. If you’d like to hike part of this trail, the trail opens up to a great view of the river at 0.9 miles making the RT distance 1.8 miles. Or if you have more time, you can continue on to Mineral Creek Falls (5.4 miles RT).
If you visit Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, plan a half day to drive in and do these two short hikes. This area is gorgeous and definitely needs to be on your list of things to do in Olympic National Park.