Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

hall of mosses
Mossy Pines near the Parking Lot.

Rain dripping off moss, the sweet smell of damp soil, the combined gentle rustle of a soft breeze through the trees, shaking loose the leaves of fall from big leaf maples, a moment frozen in time like this primordial forest. There are few places in the western united states as lush and beautiful as the Hoh Rainforest and few as aptly named as the Hall of Mosses.


Difficulty - Very Easy
Length - 0.8 Miles
Crowds - Busy
Best Season(s) - Summer, Spring, Fall

Getting There:
- Exit Hwy 101 on to Upper Hoh Road
- Proceed down Upper Hoh Road for 18.1 miles to Parking Lot (the ranger’s entrance booth is about 4mi from the trailhead)

The Hoh Rainforest receives 12 to 14 feet of annual rainfall giving it the distinction of being one of the few temperate rainforests (as opposed to a tropical rainforest like the amazon). When we arrived the clouds were threatening to add on to that annual total. The forest’s location on the western slope of the Olympic Mountains puts it directly in the path of powerful pacific storms which constantly batter the park and drench the forests.

hoh rainforest

What began as a small detour so “we could say we had been there” turned into a remarkably memorable stroll through a staggeringly beautiful forest.

The Hall of Mosses trail is a snacky 0.8 miles which can easily completed in under an hour. Our objective was not to set a speed record, but to take a very leisurely stroll through the mossy forest. Fortunately although the clouds threatened ominously, they never unleashed more than a slight misting on us. In fact the less than perfect afternoon seems more fitting for the park and in many ways enhanced the lush atmosphere of the forest.

fall color
Fall Colors in the rainforest.

In the valley of the Hoh river the water table is remarkably high, nearly at the surface. Consequently many roots grow above the ground or right at the surface. The sprawling root structures rise sometimes 2-3 feet off the ground elevating the trunks.

exposed roots
Roots of a deciduous tree elevating 4 feet off the ground.

Littering the forest floor are moss and fungus covered husks of decaying trees called nursing logs which have been blown over by the strong winds of those pacific storms. The living groves of trees though, covered in a carpet of old man’s beard is what gives this trail its name though. The moss is everywhere hanging from almost every branch of every tree.

The forest is all untouched and old growth. We couldn’t help but marvel at the enormous old hemlocks and spruce trees mixed with the smaller deciduous maple and elm trees showing off splendorous fall colors. The trail was littered with the yellow and brown leaves which shook off with every slight breeze. They crunched under our boots as we walked along the well established trail.

mossy giant
Moss Covered Giants.

mossy tree hoh rainforest
The moss in this forest, although thick, is not harmful to the trees.

When finally we made our way back over the creek and to the trailhead we couldn’t help but feel a little changed by visiting such a special place. My expectations were fairly low at the start of the hike but the overwhelmingly lush forest blew them away.


  1. It looks like it could be the set of a horror movie at night. Or maybe where Treebeard from LOR lives. Awesome pics...thanks for sharing.

  2. Actually the popular novel series "Twilight" is set in town nearest to Hoh, Forks, Washington. Sadly the town is plastered with blatant attempts to exploit that fame.

  3. Defapt,totul arata super si Stephenie Meyer a avut o idee geniala sa filmeze in aceste locuri......Dar sa recunoastem TWILIGHT SAGA este un ciclu reusit