Olympic National Park: Hoh Lake and Heart Lake via Hoh River Trail - Backpacker

Olympic National Park: Hoh Lake and Heart Lake via Hoh River Trail

Link lush, mossy forests with alpine lakes and meadows on this 35.2-mile backpacking trip in Olympic National Park.

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; nps.gov/olym.
-Mapped by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan and Ted Alvarez

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 56.6



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.


Location: 47.861204, -123.933291

Bear left @ Y-junction, and continue hiking northeast toward the Hoh River.


Location: 47.865326, -123.915131

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


Location: 47.865393, -123.906426

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


Location: 47.868473, -123.884647

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


Location: 47.867883, -123.880666

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


Location: 47.867519, -123.842018

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


Location: 47.868545, -123.829758

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


Location: 47.878246, -123.768239

Cross a rickety bridge.


Location: 47.878232, -123.767874

Pass a group site on the right.


Location: 47.877712, -123.767311

Nice campsite by the river.


Location: 47.878419, -123.754828

Bear left onto Canyon Creek Hoh Trail @ the signed Y-junction. Ahead, the trail leaves the river and climbs north toward Hoh Lake. Switchback climb begins in a few hundred yards.


Location: 47.884838, -123.751845

Prepare for 22 steep switchbacks.


Location: 47.88996, -123.783002

Pass the last campfire site. Keep climbing.


Location: 47.893845, -123.790383

CB Flats (4,100 ft.)


Location: 47.897744, -123.787658

Hoh Lake: This small lake sits at 4,539 feet.


Location: 47.897655, -123.788856

Best site at Hoh Lake: you'll find incredible views of Mount Olympus.


Location: 47.904217, -123.778517

On the small saddle beneath Bogachiel Peak, bear right onto Deer Lake Trail. The trail to the left leads to Seven Lakes Basin.


Location: 47.905094, -123.775169

Keep right @ 3-way junction for a traverse along the High Divide. Optional: To climb Bogachiel Peak, turn left @ junction.


Location: 47.907822, -123.738236

Bear left @ Y-junction. Leave the High Divide for a descent to Heart Lake.


Location: 47.910834, -123.733177

Heart Lake: This aptly-named lake resembles a heart and is tucked at the foot of a small cirque. Continue north to Heart Lake Shelter (not mapped), or turn around and retrace steps to the trailhead.

Heart Lake

Location: 47.908259, -123.736997

Nestled in a valley.

Sitka Spruce

Location: 47.863594, -123.92812

Huge, moss-covered Sitka spruce form a dense canopy.

Tributary of the Hoh

Location: 47.865119, -123.910224

Many tributaries lead away from the glacier-fed Hoh.

Trail Views

Location: 47.867135, -123.89838

A few miles in, vistas get bigger.

Hoh River

Location: 47.868689, -123.890483

The Hoh has wide gravel bars.

Gigantic Trees

Location: 47.886133, -123.757038

The brush clears and you can see how big the trees are.


Location: 47.888867, -123.770943

Trail is soft dirt, but occasional slides put large logs in your path.


Location: 47.889068, -123.778753

Fireweed pops up as you climb.

Snake Ridge

Location: 47.890737, -123.787036

As you crest the ridge, look for wildlife (like snakes!) sunning on the path.

Good spot to filter water

Location: 47.894233, -123.790169

Plenty of water and wildflowers as you move towards these protected bowls.

Hoh Lake

Location: 47.897816, -123.787293

Hoh Lake's clear blue waters.

Mount Olympus

Location: 47.89747, -123.788495

Mount Olympus framed by trees.

Mount Olympus.

Location: 47.897672, -123.788366

Sunset on Olympus.

Views near the High Divide

Location: 47.902477, -123.780856

Olympic peaks stretch beyond as you climb.


Location: 47.903095, -123.778582

The inner, drier portion of the park.

Flora and Fauna

Location: 47.905555, -123.772702

Plentiful alpine flowers.

Distant views of a bear

Location: 47.906418, -123.769484

Plentiful black bears. Careful: They regularly use the trails.

Mountain Goat Kid

Location: 47.906696, -123.764885

Tons of mountain goats in Seven Lakes Basin.


Location: 47.906476, -123.761973

The far spine of the High Divide.

Hoh River from the High Divide

Location: 47.906993, -123.758583

You can see distant braids of the Hoh.

Seven Lakes Basin

Location: 47.907713, -123.754077

Several tarns ringed by huckleberry.

Views above Seven Lakes Basin

Location: 47.907569, -123.75176


Location: 47.908144, -123.745494

Remnant snowfields near the top.

High Divide

Location: 47.908029, -123.743134

Keep hiking towards Heart Lake.

Camp at Heart Lake

Location: 47.90951, -123.733435

Beautiful--and filled with mosquitoes.