“Learn about a temperate rainforest as you revel in its magnificence.
— Brian Smith
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
This is a short, family-friendly loop through magnificent old-growth temperate rainforest.
Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hoh Rain Forest, contributing to the yearly total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.
The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the stretch of the Pacific Northwest rainforest which once spanned the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular destinations.
Need to Know
The Hoh lies on the west side of Olympic National Park, about a two-hour drive from Port Angeles and under an hour from Forks. The Hoh Rain Forest is accessed by the Upper Hoh Road, off of Highway 101.
Start on Mini Trail
from the main car park. This is a flat, paved path making the old-growth forest accessible to handicapped visitors. Stay right to complete the first portion of the loop, taking the time to read some of the informational placards as you go. At a junction, stay right onto Spruce Nature Trail
and run the loop in either direction.
This short loop, similar to the Hall of Mosses Trail
, winds through old growth temperate rain forest with minimal elevation gain. This is a great option for families looking to take a quick stroll through the rainforest. The Spruce Nature Trail
sees slightly less elevation change over a longer distance than the Hall of Mosses Trail
, making it an easier alternative.
Back at the junction with Mini Trail
, complete the portion of the loop that you bypassed at the beginning and follow it back to the parking lot.
Flora & Fauna
The 50-mile long wild Hoh River is born high on glacier-capped Mount Olympus and descends 7,000 feet to the Pacific Ocean, fed by snowmelt and rain along the way. The glaciers of its birth grind rock into glacial flour, coloring the river a milky, slate blue. On its descent the river meanders, creating gravel bars and cutting into the lush rainforest along its banks.
Immense fallen conifers are swept downriver and create logjams and quiet pools for salmon. Their spawned-out carcasses feed dozens of aquatic and forest animals and fertilize the soil, bringing riches from the ocean to the forest. In turn, the forest lends stability to the river by preventing massive sediment flushing. Mountain, river, forest, oceanâ€“â€“each part of this ecosystem depends on the other, a tapestry woven together as one naturally functioning unit.