This trail leads nearly 18 miles from the Hoh Visitor Center to the northern flanks of Mt. Olympus. It begins in rain forest and climbs steadily then steeply through montane communities to end in subalpine meadows. There are opportunities for camping and fishing along the route, as well as swimming in Elk Lake. This route can be used as climbers access to the northern glaciers of Mt. Olympus or in conjunction with other trails to form a long backpacking trek.
Begin the Hoh River Trail from the Hoh Visitor Center at approximately 600 feet. The trail leads eastward along a paved path from the trailhead. A short distance east of the trailhead the Hoh River Trail forks left from the Spruce Nature Trail. The trail leads above the river on its northern bank through a level area for the first few miles. The terrain along the riverside is lush rain forest.
Approximately one and a half miles from the trailhead glimpses of Mt. Tom come into view. This peak lies west of Mt. Olympus south of the White Glacier. Shortly after this opening in the forest the trail crosses two small streams, reaches Mt. Tom Creek Camp and passes the mouth of Mt. Tom Creek.
Beyond Mt. Tom Creek the route descends to the riverside. After a brief walk by the riverside hikers will leave the waterway and walk through bottomlands for two miles. The trail ascends slightly then turns somewhat southward to meet the river at the Five Mile Island Camp.
Beyond this primitive camping site the track continues to ascend slowly. It leaves the river side, crosses two streams descending from Green Peak then again meets the river. The trail remains close to the river for the next mile and a half to Olympus Camp. This site lies nine miles from the trailhead at an elevation of 950 feet.
A half mile beyond Olympus Camp the tread reaches a junction with the Hoh Lake Trail. The trail to Hoh Lake ascends northward to High Divide. Follow the Hoh River Trail to the right as it continues to lead along the valley floor. The route follows Slide Creek a short distance before crossing it. It then begins to turn southward crossing another stream from High Divide and ascending more steeply.
The trail follows the river closely as the drainage narrows. Thirteen miles from the trailhead the Hoh River Trail reaches the confluence of the Hoh River and Martin Creek. The river has created a deep gorge at this point and the trail crosses to the southern bank on a high bridge. Beyond this crossing the trail follows the eastern bank of Martin Creek, climbing steeply. It crosses Martin Creek approximately one mile south of the confluence. Elk Lake Camp lies on the western bank of Martin Creek 14.5 miles from the trailhead. A shelter as well as designated tent sites are available at this site. The lake supports trout and swimming in relatively mild waters.
Continuing southward the trail climbs along avalanche-cleared slopes above the lake. The route climbs quickly through subalpine forest in the Glacier Creek drainage. Approximately one mile south of Elk Lake the tread enters a clearing that provides views of the northeastern ridge of Mt. Olympus. From this point the trail continues with the grade easing for a half mile before becoming very steep. It climbs 500 feet in the next half mile to reach a small tributary of Glacier Creek and Glacier Meadows. At the southern end of the meadows is Glacier Meadows Camp.
This camp lies immediately north of Blue Glacier. Beyond the campground the trail splits. The left side is climbers access to the glaciers on Mt. Olympus. The right side leads one half mile to an overlook above the snout of Blue Glacier. This climb consists mainly of scrambling along a moraine over huge boulders.
Directions: From junction of Highway 101 and Hoh River Road, Drive eastward on the Hoh River Road 18 miles to roads end and the Hoh Trailhead and Visitor Center.
Elevation: 600 feet
Ending Elevation: 5,000 feet
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Olympic National Park, Washington
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