The Hoh Rain Forest is located on the western side of Olympic National Park and is one of a few astonishing examples of a temperate rain forest in the United States. This temperate rain forest experiences mild winters and cool summers and receives between 12 and 14 feet in precipitation each year, which helps give this area a jungle look. The rain forest is filled with giant conifers including Sitka spruce, western hemlock, western red cedar and Douglas fir and is home to one of the larger Douglas fir trees in the state, measuring 298 feet high and over 37 feet in circumference. The forest is also home to epiphytes, plants that grow on other plants as well as 'nurselogs' which are downed or dead trees that support new life.
The Hoh Rain Forest is easily accessible via the 101, just about an hour drive from the small town of Forks, which is a great place to stop for diner and lodging given its close location to the west side of Olympic as well as being close to the coastal strip of the park. The Hoh Valley is only about 2 hours from the Lake Crescent and Port Angeles area on the northern section of Olympic, which makes traveling around the park easy. Once you get to the Hoh Valley there is a visitor center that has interpretive exhibits and rangers that will be able to answer any questions about the region.
One of the more popular activities to do in the Hoh Valley is hiking. This temperate rain forest offers hiking for all abilities starting with the Mini-Trail, a .1 mile trail that is accessible and travels a small loop through old growth of the rain forest. There is also the Hall of Mosses which is .8 miles and also travels a loop through old growth and can be exceptionally beautiful during a fall day with the Big Leaf maple trees turning into the bright Autumn colors normally not seen in Washington. The Spruce Nature trail is a 1.2 mile loop that travels through the temperate rain forest to the Hoh River and has less than 100 feet of elevation gain.
Some of the longer trails are South Snider-Jackson trail, an 11.8 mile trail that starts just west of the entrance station and ascends 2,700 feet before descending to the Bogachiel River. The Hoh River trail is a total of 18 miles and ends at Blue Glacier, one of the larger glaciers that adorn Mt Olympus. Day hikers can walk the lower sections of the trail that leads to Glacier Meadows, 17.3 miles from the start of the trail to the shoulder of Mt Olympus. To hike the entire trail, hikers must obtain a wilderness camping permit. Along the Hoh River trail is the Hoh Lake trail, which branches off just after the ranger station and ascends to Bogachiel Peak.
Hiking the Hoh Rain Forest is truly a special experience to enjoy, but the Hoh Rain Forest offers more than just hiking and beauty, it's also a great opportunity to see some spectacular wildlife. This temperate rainforest is home to lots of different bird species, including the western robin, winter wren, gray jay, pileated woodpecker and raven. Some of the mammals that can be seen on the forest floor are black tailed deer, the occasional black bear, shews and the most popular, a particular species of elk that is only found in Olympic National Park, the Roosevelt elk.
The Hoh Valley is the gateway to Mt Olympus and offers its visitors short and beautiful hikes to multi-day back country hiking trips that can give you a view of the world. The valley is easy to get to from many points, including Forks and Port Angeles, within 2 hours, giving visitors many options of where to stay and eat while exploring one of the world-class temperate rain forests left.
To learn more about the activities and lodging options available in the Hoh Rainforest Region of the Olympic National Park Peninsula, visit National Park Reservations' Olympic National Park page.