Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
We spent two days hiking 36 km (22 mi.) on the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park.
Grid references: WGS84. Units: metric (imperial).
Weather: Mostly cloudy to mainly sunny. High 23ºC (73ºF). Low 11ºC (52ºF). Winds calm to light west. Pressure steady 1018 to 1019 hPa.
Route: Started at Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301011. Day 1, hiked 17.5 km (11 mi.) to Lewis Meadow Camp, 300 m (988 ft) GR 446030. Day 2, hiked 17.5 km (11 mi.) back to Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301011.
Wildlife: Reports of an aggressive elk with calf at the trailhead, 182 m (597 ft) GR 301011. This is prime elk habitat (400-500 in the Hoh Valley) with lots and lots of elk sign. We smelt and heard them, but we did not see them. Besides the abundant flora in the thick Hoh Rainforest (huge Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western red cedar, bigleaf maple, vine maple, ferns, mosses, lichens, and other epiphytes), the most impressive wildlife viewing was meeting a lone coyote on the trail 760 m (0.5 mi.) west of Five Mile Camp 774 m (2540 ft) GR 368017.
Notes: The Hoh Rainforest is one of the most spectacular examples of temperate rainforest on the planet. The 80.5 km (50 mi.) long Hoh River Valley stretches from the highest peaks in the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Olympus 2432 m (7980 ft), to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This is an excellent early season valley-bottom backpacking route with a couple of nice options to ascend into the alpine later in the season.
Check in with the rangers at the Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (Open daily) or the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center (Open Fri-Sun) for up-to-date route conditions and your mandatory backpacking permits. Reservations are not available for the Hoh River Trail. You can get self-serve permits outside the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center. There are several established wilderness campsites along the route. In addition, many un-marked primitive camping sites are nestled along the river.
We drove our car onto the Coho ferry from Victoria, BC and made the scenic 142 km (88 mi.) drive from Port Angeles, WA to the Hoh Rainforest in 2 hours. There is self-serve car camping (78 sites) on the banks of the Hoh River, adjacent to the trailhead and hiker parking. It’s First Come, First Serve. Get there early in the day and claim a premium riverside spot. The Hoh Campground is a perfect staging area to prep and enjoy car camping comforts before hitting the trail early on your first day of hiking.
Update (from ONP website): Reservations should be made for parties of 7 or more persons and for groups with stock animals. All other sites are first-come, first-served. Reservations can also be made for Elk Lake, Glacier Meadows, Hoh Lake, and the Seven Lakes Basin area.
Mike Blake, HG