Experience Hoh Rainforest Elk and Hiking Tours in Olympic National Park's Protected Old-Growth Forest Ecosystem

Two male Roosevelt elk with large antlers graze with their backs facing us in front of the Hoh Rainforest visitor center sign

Westward Hoh to rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest is dripping in moss, ripe with summer berries, and ablaze in fall color.  Learn more about elk and old-growth temperate rainforest ecology with your naturalist guide.

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Two participants hiking side-by-side in the Hoh Rainforest with trekking poles

Journey to the Rainforest

4 hours (180 mile) roundtrip drive to the Hoh Rainforest from Port Angeles. 

If staying in Port Angeles, consider an Elwha River Restoration Tour for more time hiking.  If staying in or around Forks, consider our guide service.

Close-up of a colorful Hoh Rainforest polypore fungi that shows almost all the colors of a rainbow

The Hoh Rainforest is a temperate rainforest wilderness where old-growth Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock dominate.  Moss is increadibly prolific on all surfaces, especially when it creates curtains on Big-Leaf and Vine Maple trees. 

Enjoy the highest living standing biomass on Hoh Rainforest tours

The placard for Olympic National Park's World Heritage Site designation is housed at the Visitor Center in Hoh Rainforest. Lack of disturbance is reflected in the gigantic proportions of Hoh Rainforest trees including Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock.  According to Unesco, the Hoh Rainforest has a living standing biomass which may be the highest in the world and contains one of the world’s largest stands of undisturbed temperate rainforest.

World Heritage Site placard in the Hoh Rainforest that reads that ONP is recognized because of its outstanding natural and cultural resources that form the common inheritance of all mankind

Two smiling multi-generational participants with binoculars part the strands of curtain moss in the Hoh Rainforest

Two participants look very small next to huge Big Leaf Maples trees draped in moss in the fall

Mossy Silence in Old-Growth Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest is where Gordon Hempton has designated One Square Inch of Silence and Nalini Nadkarni made the discovery that Big-Leaf Maple roots were growing into canopy moss.

Roosevelt Elk on Hoh Rainforest elk and hiking tours

A large bull Roosevelt elk peeks out from behind a huge old-growth Sitka Spruce tree

The aptly named Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center Elk herd (or Campground Herd) usually resides within a mile radius of the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center year-round. Additionally, five or more Roosevelt Elk herds can be observed during the drive to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center. 

Photograph of a trail sign that is near the visitor center in the Hoh Rainforest

While most of these herds move into the mountains during the summer, the Hoh Visitor Center herd is the exception and typically does not stray far from the Visitor Center year round. 

An extreme close up of a Banana Slug on a participant's face

A participant raises her phone to take a photo of a waterfall among a sea of large sword ferns

Why travel to the Hoh Rainforest?

Although temperate rainforest exists outside of Olympic National Park boundaries, almost all unprotected lowland old-growth rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula has been logged.  You therefore have to journey a distance into the park for an undisturbed old-growth rainforest landscape. 

You will no doubt be thankful for the 95% wilderness designation in the park.  Temperate rainforest patches exist in different regions of the world but expansive undisturbed old-growth rainforest is rare.

Hoh Rainforest Hiking Trail Options

On Hoh Rainforest tours you can choose two short loop trails – the Hall of Mosses loop (green) or the Spruce Nature Trail loop (gray).  The other option is an out-and-back of variable distance on Hoh River trail (light blue).

The Hall of Mosses is the classic upland forest characterized by huge old trees, habitat-rich dead-standing trees or snags, colossal nurse logs teeming with life, and trees of variable ages from seedlings to giants.  The Spruce Nature trail takes you towards the Hoh River and through transitional Red Alder forest stands.  The Hoh River trail largely encompasses what you see on both the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature trail.

Combine the Hoh Rainforest with an iconic Olympic beach, waterfall, or restored river

On the way to the Hoh Rainforest, consider a stop at the beach, visit to a waterfall, or learn about one of the largest river restoration projects in the world.  The options below are all possible combination tours that can be included in a day to the Hoh Rainforest.  However, the choice of one of these combinations mean less time for hiking and exploring the Hoh Rainforest.   

Read our multi-day reviews that describe touring the Hoh Rainforest with Carolyn of ExperienceOlympic Guided Tours

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