Hoh Rainforest – Hall of Mosses Trail
Hoh Rainforest has more water dumped on it per year than anywhere else on the mainland USA. With up to 170 inches (14ft) that’s an awful lot of precipitation which means it rains pretty much every day. All day. About 2 hours from Port Angeles, on the western side of the Olympic National park, it is easily accessible and perfectly tied in for Twilight fans that will love the series location, Forks, less than an hour (en route from Port Angeles). If you have never watched Twilight (like me) then it’s a great little town with an eerie feel, particularly in the morning when it is draped in mist. Actually my daughter said as we drove through “dad, please don’t break down here, there are definitely vampires”… Probably not.
Start: Hoh rainforest car park
End: Hoh rainforest car park
Distance: 0.8 miles circular
Driving up to the rainforest from Forks is a simple case of continuing south on highway 101, look for the left turn on upper Hoh Road which is easily missed from either direction.
The visitor centre is open Friday thru Sunday during winter, and on holidays. This means that in winter, if you rock up midweek you are expected to use an honesty box for your fee and there will be no rangers available to answer questions. The good thing about this, is that there will be much fewer people. In our case there was no one else in the rainforest.
At the visitor centre you have two choices of trails, one is the Hall of the mosses and the second is the Spruce nature trail which is 1.2 miles circular. I wasn’t sure which to take, but when we turned up the rain had ramped up from heavy to hardcore. It was full on falling down and so we threw on the waterproofs and headed off at superman’s pace and headed off up the Hall of Mosses.
The trail head is obvious and is the head for both trails. Ours headed to the left and after literally a minute we were mesmerized. In fact mesmerized is the wrong word, blown away is not even sufficient. It is an absolutely enchanting, beautiful, surreal place. My daughter commented that it looked like where Tinkerbell lived, my son agreed. It is actually really difficult to give the place the justice that it deserves, it is like no where else we have ever seen.
The trail is well trodden and though unsuitable for strollers is well walkable by anyone from ages two upwards, those younger can easily be carried up the occasional incline. Generally the route is flat and not difficult at all. The signs claim the route takes around 60 minutes, but it doesn’t. We actually went around twice as we missed the exit point. Basically after walking for a while, there is a sign that points to the Mosses trail, it didn’t click with me that this was the sign at the start and so we went up and back around. Jack kept saying “Dad, ive definitely seen this tree before” and after realizing myself that this was a long 0.8 miles I agreed.
The trail winds through the edges of the forest and takes in some amazing sights of huge, vast cedar trees draped in moss and blanketed by ferns. There is just about every shade of green you can think of, and though it rained heavily for the duration it didn’t at all take away from the enchantment that had us spell bound. Without doubt it is not just our favourite short trail, but also the most unusual one that we have ever taken. It is the sort of place you go, take photos and then wonder if they have been secretly photo shopped!
A real gem in the Pacific Northwest and worthy of the excursion required.