Forest: Hoh River Trail, WA

This Olympic National Park trail features serious elevation gain and switchbacks galore.
Image placeholder title

Hike into the wild green heart of the Northwest on this 17.6-mile (one-way) tour-de-ecosystems in Olympic National Park. Sunlight stabs through dripping, moss-hung rainforests as the trail climbs 4,000 feet on 22 switchbacks from riverside through Sitka spruce to wildflower-filled alpine meadows (season’s first: avalanche lilies in May). Find a string of aquamarine ponds shimmering below the High Divide’s glaciated peaks at CB Flats, forage for huckleberries (starting to ripen in mid-July) in sprawling patches (watch out for black bear )—and ogle hulking Mt. Olympus. Then cruise 4.3 miles to heath-lined Heart Lake. The next day, retrace your route back to the trailhead. INFO Wilderness permits ($7). Reserve campsites a month in advance (May to September); half are held for walk-ins. (305) 565-3100; Trip data:

1. Hoh River trailhead

0430124E 5301197N; mile 0

Old GPS? Get a nav lock before rainforest canopy limits initial reception—or upgrade.

2. Canyon Creek Trail

0443561E 5303063N; mile 9.5

Turn left for the first of many switchbacks to the Seven Lakes Basin and the jagged, snow-capped High Divide.

3. Hoh Lake

0441039E 5305226N; mile 13.9

Pack an extra memory card: The photo ops here (4,539 feet ) include a wide alpine tundra and the glacier-laced flanks of 7,929-foot Mt. Olympus.

4. Deer Lake Trail

0441819E 5305948N; mile 15.2

Bear right below Bogachiel Peak. Extra day? Turn left/west in .2 mile to bag the 5,474-foot summit or make the 25-mile loop through the Seven Lakes Basin (bear canisters required, $3).

5. Heart Lake

0445214E 5306650N; mile 17.6

Camp lakeside in this small cirque, or hike north to the Heart Lake Shelter; backtrack to the Hoh River trailhead.

Image placeholder title

Tree Time

Find more forest hikes.