The spur road to the Hoh Rain Forest is 13.2 miles south of Forks Washington. Along this road you'll see second growth forest, where an earlier forest appears to be victim of a blowdown.
Willoughby Creek (DNR) campground is 3.6 miles east with three campsites. Minnie Peterson campground (DNR) is 4.7 miles east of the highway with seven campsites. Just past there is Peak 6 Outdoor Store with everything you need for camping and hiking along the Hoh or into the Olympics. A mile further is the Hard Rain Cafe with an RV park, mini-mart, hot showers, rain forest art and souvenirs and lots of llamas elk and deer grazing nearby.
The Hoh is a glacier-melt river. that is colder, and often higher, in the summer from ice melt, and warmed in the winter when it is fed only by winter rainfall.
At 7.3 miles you come to Morgan's Crossing with six sites which has picnic facilities, toilets, fishing and boat launching.
The Rain Forest Monarch, a giant Sitka spruce tree, 270-feet high, 12.5 feet in diameter, aged between 500-550 years, is about 15.3 miles from U.S. 1 01
The Hoh ranger station and visitor's center is 19 miles from the highway, The Hoh is the premier temperate rain forest in the United States because of the warming trend of the Japanese Current. While the forest is dominated by the Sitka spruce, it is the big leaf maple whose arching limbs provide the frame work to support the mosses which give the forest its mellow feeling.
An estimated 200,000 people visit the Hoh Rain Forest annually. Easily accessible by car, the Hoh gives visitors a peek into every aspect of forest life. One of the finest examples of a temperate rain forest left in North America, the Hoh has been named the third best hike in the world ' Although busiest in July and August, rangers say the best time to visit is in September. The park maintains an interpretative center here with a naturalist on the staff. One loop is open with full services until July 1. Full opening after that date. Summer features ranger-led walks and campfire programs.
A rain forest is defined by a lot of rain - an average of 150 inches a year - which makes this the wettest spot in.the United States outside of Hawaii, where Mount Waialeale has an annual rainfall of 460 inches. In 1997 a new record of 190.42 inches was set. Protected by the mountains: to the east, the mild temperature seldom drops to below freezing in the winter or rises above 80 degrees in the summer.
Temperate rain forests are rare, only being found here, in southern Chile and in New Zealand.
The Hoh Rain Forest, which contains more than 3,000 species of plant life, abounds in Sitka spruce and western hemlock, some reaching 3OO feet in height and 23 feet in circumference. Douglas fir, western red cedar, big leaf maple and black cottonwood are also found throughout the forest. The forest floor is carpeted with ferns. Nearly every bit of space within the forest is taken up with a living plant, and its biomass may be the greatest in the world. In some areas of the forest the vegetation is so thick that snow cannot reach the ground.
It is here that the shy Roosevelt elk are most likely to be seen, grazing on the heavy undergrowth. This unique white-rumped elk, whose population is nearly 5,000 animals, is one of the primary reasons for the creation of the park. The park was shaped by their migratory trails. They represent the only major concentration of elk remaining in the United States. The Roosevelt elk, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, are social animals that exist in herds unlike the smaller wapiti found elsewhere in western North America.
Hiking and nature trails start at the visitor's center. A mini trail 1/4 mile long which opens a window on the rain forest starts at the visitor's center. Nearby is the Hall of Mosses Trail 3/4 mile; The Spruce Trail 1-1/4 mile 1-1/2 hour hike; and the Hoh River Trail 17.3 miles along Hoh River to Blue Glacier and Mt. Olympus. This is the principal trailhead for climbing Mt. Olympus, 20 miles farther up the canyon.
As you walk through the forest, green draperies soften the outlines of the forest. you experience damp smells which are a mix of decay and fresh new growth,and hear sounds of water from streams and dripping leaves. You see the different textures of a variety of plants, and feel a cool breath of fog against your cheek. Benches are plentiful along the trail. Specially marked horse trails lead through the forest.