Olympic National Park: Glacier Meadows via Hoh River Trail

On this climb from the Hoh River's silty riffles to high-country glacier views, you'll pass through a moss-hung rainforest that might be the lushest place in America.
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On this climb from the Hoh River's silty riffles to high-country glacier views, you'll pass through a moss-hung rainforest that might be the lushest place in America.

SEASON: Higher up, prime hiking starts in July and extends into October. River valleys are usually snow-free even in winter, though fall, winter, and spring bring the rain.

MAPS: Green Trails Seven Lakes Basin/Mount Olympus Climbing (Hoh River Trail); Tyler Peak (Royal Basin); Mt. Angeles and Tyler Peak (Four Passes Loop); Mt. Steel and The Brothers (Mt. Ellinor); $6 each, greentrails.com Guidebooks Olympic Mountains Trail Guide, by Robert Wood ($19); Climber’s Guide to the Olympic Mountains, by Olympic Mountain Rescue ($17); both from mountaineersbooks.org

BEAR PROTOCOL: Food canisters are required and available (free, $3 donation suggested) from the Wilderness Information Center.

PERMITS: Required ($5, plus $2/person/night). Reserve no more than 30 days in advance.

CONTACT: Wilderness Information Center, (360) 565-3100, nps.gov/olym/wic/index.html nps.gov/olym.

-Mapped by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan and Ted Alvarez

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 27.0

Waypoints

HOH001

Location: 47.860311, -123.934214

Start from the Hoh Ranger Station (north of the Hoh Rain Forest Campground). Hike northeast on the Hoh River Trail.

HOH002

Location: 47.861204, -123.933291

Bear left at Y-junction, and continue hiking northeast toward the Hoh River. Huge, moss-covered Sitka spruce form a dense canopy.

HOH003

Location: 47.865326, -123.915131

Pass a trail on the right that leads 0.9 mile to a campsite.

HOH004

Location: 47.865393, -123.906426

Pass a trail on the right that leads 1.4 miles to a campsite.

HOH005

Location: 47.86892, -123.884668

This easy waterfall crossing over a bridge is a great photo spot.

HOH006

Location: 47.867883, -123.880666

Pass a trail that leads 2.9 miles to Mount Tom Creek Campsite.

HOH007

Location: 47.867519, -123.842018

Pass a trail on the right that leads to Five Mile Island.

HOH008

Location: 47.868545, -123.829758

Hike past Happy Four Shelter. Ahead, the trail continues southeast, then rounds to the northeast.

HOH009

Location: 47.878246, -123.768239

Cross a rickety bridge.

HOH010

Location: 47.878232, -123.767874

Pass a group site on the right.

HOH011

Location: 47.877712, -123.767311

Nice campsite by the river.

HOH012

Location: 47.878304, -123.754849

Bear right at the trail fork, heading east.

HOH013

Location: 47.88383, -123.717213

At the head of the valley, the trail curves to the right.

HOH014

Location: 47.876721, -123.694682

Cross footbridge over the Hoh River and enter the Glacier Creek drainage.

HOH015

Location: 47.860311, -123.690777

Cross Martin Creek.

HOH016

Location: 47.857633, -123.693008

Elk Lake: Skirt the eastern edge of this small backcountry lake. From here, the route continues climbing south.

HOH016

Location: 47.830328, -123.688374

The route ends in Glacier Meadows. Retrace your route back to the trailhead.

Trail Views

Location: 47.867149, -123.898315

A few miles in, vistas get bigger.

Hoh River

Location: 47.868704, -123.890419

The Hoh has wide gravel bars.