HikingOlympic National Park

Hall of Mosses Trail – Everything You Need to Know

Hall of Mosses
  • Total Distance: 1.1 Mile Loop
  • Required Passes: National Park Pass
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Is it possible that a rainforest exists in Washington State? Absolutely! After moving from the East Coast, I was amazed to discover that Washington State indeed harbors its own rainforest. Nestled within Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest is a trail that demands to be explored. This enchanting 1.1-mile loop trail seems as though it’s been pulled straight from a fairy tale. As you wander beneath the majestic canopies of Sitka spruces and Western hemlocks, each step takes you deeper into a lush, green world. This popular trail is accessible for explorers of all ages and skill levels. I’ll also introduce you to another trail in the same area that offers a similar experience but with fewer crowds

Getting to the Hall of Mosses Trailhead

The trailhead for Hall of Mosses is located within Olympic National Park, about 18 miles off the 101 Highway. The road in is completely paved and usually accessible year-round. I just happened to be there while it was snowing but had no issues getting to the trailhead. At the entrance booth, you are required to pay a $30 entrance fee or present a National Park Pass. The drive in is incredibly beautiful as well! Be prepared to wait, up to a couple of hours, just to get into the park during the summer.

The Best Time to Do Hall of Mosses Trail

Visiting the Hall of Mosses during the off-season is probably the best move. Last summer, I did the Hoh River to Blue Glacier trail, which is right next to the Hall of Mosses trailhead. I also thought about hitting the Hall of Mosses trail, but it was just too crowded for my taste. It did not seem like it would be much fun with so many people. So, I really think you should try this trail during the rainy season. Honestly, it’s the best time to be in a rainforest.

What Makes the Hoh Rainforest Unique?

The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States, characterized by its mild temperatures and significant rainfall, which ranges from 140 to 170 inches annually— that’s a lot of rain! Renowned for its astounding biodiversity, the Hoh Rainforest features colossal old-growth trees draped in mosses and ferns, alongside a lush understory teeming with plant life. Thanks to the nearby Pacific Ocean, the climate is moderated, funneling vast amounts of moisture into the region.

One of the Quietest Places on Earth

Did you know that Olympic National Park is considered to be one of the quietest places on earth? Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton identified the Hoh Rainforest, nestled within the park, as the quietest among all the National Parks. I can vouch for this claim—the experience of standing amidst towering trees shrouded in moss was truly unparalleled.

Big Trees and Lush Understory

Olympic National Park hosts some of Washington’s largest trees, especially in the Hoh Rainforest. The most common are Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. These towering giants can rise up to 300 feet and measure 12 feet in diameter. Truly impressive!

Beneath these giant trees lies an extremely diverse ecosystem. Ferns thrive here in the moist shady conditions of the forest. The Hoh Rainforest is famous for its epiphytic mosses and lichens that drape the trees, giving the forest a mystical, green glow.

Wildlife in the Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest supports a diverse set of wildlife. The most common and iconic animal you might see are the very large Roosevelt Elk, often seen grazing in the clearings and river valleys. Besides Elk, you might see Black bears, owls, deer, banana slugs, frogs, salamanders, pacific wren, and on a very rare occasion – a cougar!

Additional Hikes Worth Doing

The Hall of Mosses Trail is likely to be a quick hike. I would highly recommend exploring the Hoh River Trail, an adjacent trail, which provides similar views. If you’re seeking a less crowded experience and more alone time, then this trail is also a must-hike. You can venture a few miles in and then retrace your steps. This trail not only presents the same magnificent views as the Hall of Mosses but also showcases the glacier-fed Hoh River.

Tips for Exploring Hall of Mosses

  • Visit in the off-season if you can to avoid the crowds or plan to arrive early or later in the day. Experiencing the Hoh Rainforest in the rain is how I think it should be done!
  • Wear boots because the trail will undoubtedly be muddy and carry a rain jacket just in case it rains, it mostly likely will!
  • The trail is very short so definitely take your time exploring or just stand there and take it all in.
  • Stay on the trails, even if they are muddy! This is why you should have boots.
  • Before you visit, check the National Park Alerts to ensure there are no closures.
  • The visitor center is minimal. You won’t find any food here. It will likely be closed in the off-season. Bathrooms will remain open though.
  • The nearest gas station is in Forks, Washington – a 45 minute drive away.
hall of mosses trail hoh rain forest map
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Kurt on Instagram
Source
Hoh Rain Forest AlertsHall of Mosses Map

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