As cliche as it is, I often find myself looking for the iconic shots of the certain places that I visit. Arches National Park, you bet I took a photo of Delicate Arch. Santa Monica Pier, yep, I have a photo of the sign leading down to the pier. Chicago, of course a photo of The Bean is in my possession. So when I arrived to the Hoh Rain Forest I went looking for the cute old phone booth covered in a layer of moss, that I had seen several photos of when researching the Hoh Rain Forest. I was perplexed with where the phone booth covered in moss was as I stood near the visitor center. After ten minutes or so of being unsuccessful in locating the phone booth I took out my cell phone to google the location of the phone booth. It was both ironic and disappointing. Ironic in the fact that I was using a phone to find a phone and disappointing as my cell phone revealed that the phone booth had been taken down and was no longer at the Hoh Rain Forest thus taking away all cliche photographers hopes of capturing the photo of the mossy phone booth.
Luckily the phone booth was not the only reason I wanted to visit the Hoh Rain Forest. There is something oddly fascinating about this dense mossy covered land that makes you feel as though you just walked into a Tim Burton film. And it draws you in, more than the hope that Johnny Depp in some crazy “Burtonesk” costume will pop out from behind a tall fern bush. And do not get me wrong, Johnny would of course be welcomed, although we would probably all question what he was doing there. Unless of course he was dressed as Edward Sissorhands, then it would be obvious that he was there to sculpt the forest with his sissorhands.
There are three main hiking trails that led from the Hoh Rain Forest visitors center, The Hall of Mosses Trail, a quick 0.8 mile (1.28 km) loop, The Spruce Nature Trail, a 1.2 mile (1.93 km) and for the overachievers The Hoh River Trail, a 17.3 mile (27.84 km) trail that leads you (not me) to Mount Olympus.
As I am no overachiever when it comes to hiking, I kept to the shorter trails, starting first with the Spruce Nature Trail. The trail is fairly easy, with very little incline, leading you through tall trees draped with moss, fern covered floors and the Hoh River as the backdrop. Although I was traveling alone I did make several “new friends” along the way while on this trail. And while the area is known for blood suckers, it was not the vampires that I was befriending but the other kind of blood suckers, mosquitoes. Tragically all of these new friendships came to a violent end that day and I highly recommend mosquito spray with a high DEET content in it. Aside from loosing a pint or so of blood the trail was enjoyable as well as informative with interpretive signs along the way. This trail did not have as heavy of traffic on it as the Hall of Mosses, so if you are looking for some tranquility in this mossy wonderland the Spruce Nature Trail is your trail.
The Hall of Mosses Trail was my next adventure. This trail has a slight incline with a 100 ft (30.48 m) elevation gain, which is not a huge gain but still worthy of noting. I would also not necessarily describe this trail as more mossy than anywhere else in the park as it’s name could imply. This trail, while I was there, was definitely more popular as there was heavy foot traffic on this trail. Perhaps a fluke or maybe that it was that it is a shorter trail and it more popular, I do not know, however I believe both trails are worthy of time spent exploring. The short looped trail lead me around the rain forest with more interpretive signs about the types of trees with the most commonly known: Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock and Big Leaf Maple that can be found in this rain forest.
Another sign told the demise of this poor Sikta Spruce, who had toppled over and now lays on the ground, about 190 feet (57.92 m) in length. These trees can reach an average of 220 feet tall (67.05 m) with some growing to 300 feet (91.44 m). Not quite the full length of a football field, but almost.
There is a small nugget of a trail located near the visitor center, appropriately named Mini-Trail. This trail is 0.1 mile (.16 km) and is fully paved and flat giving anyone with mobility concerns an opportunity to view the rain forest without trudging off into the mossy wilderness.
The Hoh Rain Forest is apparently a hotbed for the Roosevelt Elk, boasting the largest populations in the United States of Roosevelt Elk. Although I did not see any Elk while I was in the park, I did see a small group of them while exiting the park. Like all wild animals it is always recommended to not approach and view from a safe distance. I am talking to you, person who gets to close to the buffalo at Yellowstone National Park.
The Hoh Rain Forest is located about an hour south of Forks Washington. Take Highway 101 South for 13 miles (20.92 km) and turn left (east) onto Upper Hoh Road following for about 18 miles (28.96 km) until you reach the visitor center parking lot. The visitor center is only open in the summer and there is no food or fuel located near the visitor center so you will want to plan accordingly. Trails are also not dog friendly but dogs can be on leash in the parking lot.