For more on the Hoh River Trail, visit our Hoh Rain Forest page.

09/17/11 - Hoh Rain Forest

We were out on the Hoh Rain Forest Trail for the first time in a while. This is a World Heritage trail, so we don't have to say much, especially this year. We arrived mid-week in the shoulder season and found the parking lot full. We're betting that the park had a record summer in terms of visitors, even with the Elwha area closed.

We walked up to Five Mile Island and made our way to the campground. Things had really changed. The river had eroded a fair bit of its northern bank leaving a much narrower flat area between the rise inland and the river itself. The gravel area across the channel had grown with a big region of fresh gravel contrasting with the shrub covered region of older gravel. It's easy to look at a river and think of it as defined by its banks. In fact, the a river like the Hoh is constantly remodeling and reinventing itself, moving its channels this way and that and redecorating its banks with gravel and driftwood.

We had also forgotten just how big some of the trees are. When a trail has a lot of big trees, it's easy to walk along categorizing them as "middling", "middling large" and so on, when in fact it would take a small team to just link arms around one. Early along the trail, not all that far from the trailhead, there is a fallen tree lying parallel to the trail. It's quite a walk from the broad section where it had broken from its stump to its upper reaches. It seems that a few hundred feet on there is still a tree beside the trail, and it takes a moment of thought to recognize that this is just more of the same tree.

It's an amazing trail, and we have only explored the first bit of it. Despite the full primary parking lot - we parked in one of the overflow lots - the trail thinned out quickly. Most people just explore the short interpretive Hall of Mosses trail at the start, but it is worth wandering a bit up the river to get a better sense of the river and the forest.

The twisty trees and vines of the rain forest

More twisted trees

The view up the river

A fallen tree on the river gravel

Another view up the river - the magic of framing

Pacific dogwood in bloom and in fruit

More amazing rain forest trees

A fungal friend

It's hard for a photograph to give a sense of how big some of these trees are.

A glimpse of the river

Another view up the river

Keywords: hoh rain forest

09/13/09 - The Hoh Rain Forest

The sign at the Rain Forest Cafe on the road to the Hoh Rain Forest says "When you see rain, think of us." So, now that the fall rainy season has started, we've been thinking of the Hoh Rain Forest. Of course, we chose a nice sunny day and hiked up to Five Mile Island for a picnic. We were well rewarded. The forest was as beautiful as ever, and the river as wild.

Our picnic spot with a view of the mountains to the east

The wild forest

Friendly, but most likely toxic, mushrooms

A bit of autumn color

One of the streams

Keywords: autumn, hoh rain forest

09/29/08 - The Hoh Sun Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is famous for its cloudy days. After all, it is a rain forest. But the forest also has its sunny aspect, so we got to enjoy the nearly as famous Hoh Sun Forest the other day. For most of our hike up to Five Mile Island and back, the sky was cloudless. The sun was brilliant and the river a glorious milky blue.

We hadn't been up this way for about a year, so we did notice a few changes. In particular, one of our favorite trees was gone, or at least severely damaged. That's the One Arm Tree which is not far from Five Mile Island and served as a landmark for years. There were a number of damaged trees along the trail. We have one or two suspects which might have been the One Arm Tree. In one case, the main branch is doing fine. In the other, the tree has fallen. We suspect the damage was from last November's violent wind storms which damaged so many trees around the peninsula.

The season is changing too. We spotted some autumn leaf color, mainly in the little maples along the river. We could see how the river has changed its flow, shoveling gravel and drift logs this way and that, and biting chunks out of the trail along the banks. For the most part, the trail is the same, but it changes with the years and seasons. That's one of the reasons we go back again and again.

The view from our picnic spot at Five Mile Island

Another view of the river

We fear that the One Arm Tree has lost its arm.

Perhaps this was the arm?

Or perhaps this was?

Late afternoon light on the trail

Hoh River and mountains

The waterfall

More river color

Some autumn color

This elk by the side of the road is probably a young bull, still bulking up.

Keywords: autumn, hoh rain forest, elk, waterfall

08/27/08 - Hoh Rain Forest

We were out on the Hoh Rain Forest Trail the other day. The weather forecast was for a 30% chance of showers, but we should have known better given that we were heading off to a rain forest. Usually, the rain holds off, but this year we had the true rain forest experience, so we didn't quite get to Five Mile Island.

Still, we managed to get a ways up the river and found a spot to enjoy our bacon, lettuce, tomato and cucumber sandwiches. (We Kalebergs, like an army, travel on our stomach.) Some of the leaves are already starting to change color here and there. August is a little early, but this has been a cool, wet year. The trail was wet. The side streams feeding the Hoh were full. The river was misty. All told, it was a wondeful hike.

It was a misty, rainy day. What does one expect in a rain forest?

A close up of the little waterfall

The waterfall in the forest, just after the footbridge

The trail goes on.

The first autumn color

Yet another haunted grove

The Hoh

Keywords: hoh rain forest, kale, waterfall

07/26/07 - Driving Time and Distance Map of the North Olympic Peninsula

We get a number of questions from people trying to plan trips to the North Olympic Peninsula and not sure of how far it is from one attraction to another. Olympic National Park is a big park comprising the central part of the peninsula and much of the Pacific Coast. There are no roads through the middle of the park, and there is no long coastal road to follow. This makes planning a trip a bit tricky. Even getting from La Push to Rialto Beach, a distance of perhaps a mile or two along the coast requires driving inland to the bridge at Mora, so the total drive is perhaps 11 miles and takes about 25 minutes. Hurricane Ridge is not very far from the Hoh Ranger Station as the raven flies, but it is several hours drive.

To help the many visitors to the park and surrounding areas, we offer this Kaleberg Driving Time and Distance Map of the North Olympic Peninsula. It is based on the distances as computed by Google Maps, but we have used our own estimated driving times rather than the Google estimates. Google has some peculiar ideas on how fast one can drive on various park roads, and they still have the Hurricane Hill Trail from Whiskey Bend to Hurricane Hill as an automobile road! We're sure that was a trail, even before Google was founded. We've also taken some liberties in defining certain intermediate locations which do not appear on any map. In general, things like Elwha Turnoff and Hoh River Crossing are not marked as such on any other map you might find, but are useful junction points linking roads and turnoffs, just what you want for planning your drive.

Driving Distance Time Map for the North Olympic Peninsula

Keywords: maps, science, port angeles, hurricane ridge, hurricane hill, hoh rain forest, elwha, la push, lake crescent, obstruction point, rialto beach, la push, spruce railroad, kale

03/06/07 - First Salamander (and Slug) of Spring

A lot of trails are closed right now. Whiskey Bend Road is more or less wiped out, and the Hoh Rain Forest is inaccessible. This means we are spending a lot of time on the Spruce Railroad Trail at Lake Crescent. We were out there a few days ago, and it sure smelled of spring. Today, it smelled even more spring-like. The currant and salmonberry blossoms are getting ready to bloom. Then we saw it. The first salamander of spring! We knew that slugs could not be far behind. We were right. A bit down the trail, there it was, a slug, slugging its way through the trail debris.

Eventually other trails will reopen, and even the high country will thaw out and open up, but for now, we are going to watch for spring.

We often have trouble believing how clear Lake Crescent water is. The upper rocks in this picture are under water. The water is radioactive pool blue, even without radioactive waste to make it glow.

Keywords: elwha, spruce railroad, spring, animals, salamander, slugs, high country, hoh rain forest, lake crescent, trails, salmon

Hoh Rain Forest View From Five Mile Island

03/21/06 - Hoh Rain Forest : Winter Damage Report 2006

We were out at the Hoh Rain Forest yesterday, and the views of the snow covered mountains were spectacular as you can see from in the picture on the left. We have never been that far up the river this early in the season, at least not when the mountains were still snow covered.

The trail was passable to Five Mile Island, but there was a lot of wind damage. Some pretty big trees were down, some blocking the trail. Bushwhacking wasn't that hard, but we had to do some clambering and thrashing.

For more pictures of downed trees, the snow covered mountains and the elk herd we saw, see our special photo report.

Keywords: hoh rain forest, elk

01/12/06 - Tarzan of the Hoh Rainforest

A few years back, we greatly enjoyed Disney's animated version of Tarzan. We particularly enjoyed their rendition of the jungle, with all the great trees, laden with vines. They seemed just like the trees at the Hoh rainforest, one of our favorite hikes. We would often walk up the river to Five Mile Island remarking that the trees looked like something out of the Tarzan movie.

Well, we were recently speaking with a friend of ours who does guide work in the area, and he explained the similarity. Some years back, Disney sent an artistic team up to the Hoh rainforest, and our friend gave them a guided tour, starting at the visitor center, and heading upriver to Five Mile Island. Surprise, surprise.

The Real Hoh RainforestCompare the still from Tarzan above and the images below. The inspiration is obvious. More Hoh Rain Forest

Keywords: hoh rain forest, movies