Trail of the Week: Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park
A chance to run through rainforest in the Pacific Northwest.
Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project.
One of America’s last remaining rainforests features a 17-mile path ripe for good trail running. The Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington—and within Olympic National Park—lies about 150 miles west of Seattle.
The Hoh’s major running trail is the Hoh River trail, which leads 17.3 miles to Glacier Meadows and Blue Glacier, on the shoulder of Mount Olympus. Most people run the initial parts of this trail and turn around to retrace their steps once they have been overwhelmed with enough beauty. For this reason, the number of other users drops off after the first few miles, even though this is one of the most heavily used trails in the park.
From the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center area, take the paved loop east for just 0.2 miles to the junction with Hoh River Trail. This well groomed, easy trail ascends the lush river valley along the north bank of the braided Hoh River. The heavily wooded and mossy trail is mostly flat for the first 12 miles. The first good view of the river comes around 1 mile, although you’ll likely have heard the rush of its waters over the birdsong much earlier. Spot Mount Tom and the High Divide from here. Pass campsites, two small falls and the impressive Cougar Creek cedar grove. After 5.3 miles, you arrive at Five Mile Island, a meadow-like spot formed by a huge gravel bar. Elk often can be found here and there are good views up valley. This is a worthwhile destination after which many people turn around.
For those continuing on, the trail takes on a more mystical wild feel away from other people. Pass the Happy Four shelter, several more campsites and cross a rickety bridge. After the Olympus summer ranger station and the intersection with Hoh Lake Trail, you start really feeling isolated. Marvel at the blue Hoh River water as you near its source. Wind towards the river and away from it, through meadows and dense forest. Begin an abrupt ascent climbing 3,000 feet over four miles through narrowing valleys and over a gorge via the High Ho Bridge.
Runnable: 88 percent
Singletrack: 100 percent
Average Grade: 6 percent
Max Grade: 32 percent
Total Ascent: 4,897 feet
Total Descent: -427 feet
Highest Elevation: 5,089 feet
For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos and virtual run simulator courtesy of Trail Run Project: