Hoh Rain Forest, WA AUG 9, 2018

Washington state, nicknamed the Evergreen State, has so much natural beauty with three national parks: Mt Rainier NP, North Cascades NP, and Olympic NP. For the past several weeks we have been enjoying the diversity of Olympic National Park. Encompassing 922,651 acres, it has three distinct and very different ecosystems:

  • glacier capped mountains, 
  • more than 70 miles of rugged coastline and
  • a temperate rain forest.

In previous blogs we described our visit to mountainous Hurricane Ridge, and in the past two blogs we talked about the rugged coastline. This blog is dedicated to the Olympic rain forest.

On Thursday we visited the nearby Hoh Rain Forest an hour away from our campground in Forks.  The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the last old growth temperate rain forests in the Western Hemisphere. It averages fourteen feet of rainfall annually.  The trees here can grow up to 300 feet tall. IMG_3402IMG_3408

As we approached the fee booth at the entrance to the park we were met by a long line of cars. We wondered why the line was moving so slowly and when it became our turn to show the ranger our pass, we found out why.  The ranger told us the parking lots were all full and we had to wait for a car to leave so we would have a place to park. We didn’t mind chatting with the friendly park ranger for a few minutes until we spotted a car coming from the opposite direction and it was our turn to enter. The ranger said they have been this busy all season. I can’t imagine what it is like on the weekend! (The cost to visit a national park is now $30 per vehicle and luckily we both bought senior passes when we became 62 which never have to be renewed)

Our goal was to take two hikes in this area of the park. We started with the Spruce Nature Trail which led us among moss covered trees and banks of ferns IMG_3409IMG_3414IMG_3416IMG_3417IMG_3418IMG_3422


This tree has two ears


which eventually led us past the Hoh River.  IMG_3434

This river is fifty miles long and begins high on glacier capped Mount Olympus and descends 7,000 feet to the Pacific Ocean. Hoh is a Native American term meaning “fast moving water”. Members of the Hoh Indian tribe still live in the area.  By the way, Washington state has more major cities with Native American names than any other state. IMG_3435IMG_3438

We then hiked The Hall of Mosses trail. We were amazed at the strange shapes the roots of trees formed as they spread through the forest. As you can imagine, the trails were very crowded.  IMG_344020180809_142548IMG_3442IMG_3443IMG_3444

We were last here in 2014 and we were somewhat surprised in this visit. Washington state has been very dry and it certainly shows in the rain forest. The area did not have the lush rain forest feeling we remembered from our visit four years ago. Instead it was hot, dry and the trails were dusty. 20180809_143557IMG_3445_stitch20180809_144115


Not sure what to call this animal with a hat


An amazing part of old growth forest is nurselogs: a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings to grow on it. 20180809_14585420180809_14403320180809_14471620180809_145706

The trail passes many large downed trees. IMG_3452IMG_3457IMG_345620180809_150357

Though we were surprised we still enjoyed our two rain forest hikes.

Today ( Saturday) we received about a quarter inch of rain. The first rain in a very long time. I could almost hear the grass, which crinkled when walked on, breathing a sigh of relief as it drank in the precious rain.

Tomorrow we move a little further south in Washington for some camping on the beach. Hopefully the marine layer will cooperate!

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