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Rainy Forest Path

OverviewThe Hoh Rain Forest, pronounced "Hoe", earns its name from the ever-flowing Hoh River that carves its way from Mount Olympus towards the Pacific Coast. However, where the name originates, is up for debate. The word "Hoh" undoubtedly comes from Native American languages; possibly the Quileute word "Ohalet" which means "fast moving water" or "snow water." Since the river itself forms from glacial runoff, that origin seems straightfoward. Other explanations state that the Quinault word "Qu," meaning "boundary," could be the root of the name as a river as massive as the Hoh certainly forms a formidable boundary across the landscape. A third consideration claims that the word "Hoh" translates to "man with quarreling wives." What the actual history behind the name is appears to be lost to time.Regardless of the name, there's no question as to the allure that draws visitors back to the rainforest year after year. Throughout the winter season, rain falls frequently in the Hoh Rain Forest, contributing to the yearly average of 140 inches (3.55 meters) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns that blanket the surfaces add another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest.

Rainy Forest Path

The Hoh Rain Forest is located in the stretch of the Pacific Northwest rainforest which once spanned the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. The Hoh is one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States and is one of the park's most popular destinations.

Places to StayThe Hoh Rain Forest has a campground that is open year round, with 72 sites located in the old growth forest along the river. All campsites are reservable during the peak season and reservations are available online six months in advance at

Located in Pacific Rim National Park, the scenic Rainforest Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails among locals and visitors in the Tofino-Ucluelet area. The trail has two routes, one on each side of the highway (listed as "Route A" and "Route B" below). The parking lot is located on the west (ocean) side of the highway.

Once on the other side, enter the forest along the wooden boardwalk and go left at the junction. This 2-kilometer trail runs parallel to the road for a short distance before curving deeper into the forest, leaving the sound of cars behind. You'll see a pair of grand, old trees lying across the trail - simply duck down to pass underneath them. The trail then drops down to a steep set of stairs taking you farther into the forest and weaving you through the thick foliage. You'll soon reach a junction with a short trail on the left. (To the right of the trail, however, stands a grand, majestic tree that's not to be missed: This one is nearly twice as thick as the trees surrounding it.)

Continue along the trail as it drops and climbs through the forest until you reach another junction with a short trail to the left, offering a view of a small creek. Back on the trail, walk up the wooden steps and follow the boardwalk as it leads you back towards the junction. A short walk to the left returns you to the highway, where you (again) carefully cross the busy road and return to the parking area.

Route B starts from the far right side of the parking lot. To begin this 2-kilometer hiking loop, follow the gravel trail - which soon turns into a wooden boardwalk. At the junction, turn left and follow the trail as it descends farther into the forest and passes alongside beautiful moss-covered trees and tiny streams. Along the way, you'll find several signboards offering information about the local ecosystem. Continue as the trail climbs and then again descends, threading its way deeper into the forest before looping back around. (Of course, all of those steps you walked down earlier means you'll have to now climb a number of wooden steps for your return trip.) Follow the trail as it climbs back up, passing a few viewpoints along the way, before reaching the junction you came across earlier on your hike. Veer left for a short walk along the gravel trail, which will guide you back towards the parking lot.

Refresh your soul as you discover the diverse ecosystems and breathtaking views found throughout El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Along the way, you'll encounter many endemic flora, rare fauna, refreshing rivers, and cascading waterfalls. Get out your hiking boots and athleisure wear (and maybe a raincoat) to explore one of these popular trails.

One of the easiest hikes in El Yunque is just 100 feet south of the Sierra Palm Visitor Center on Road 191 km 12.1. This short 0.4 to 0.6-mile walk is ideal for those who want to enjoy what the rainforest has to offer but are not ready to take on a more challenging trail. It is excellent if you're going to exercise with young ones or pets. Along the trail, you'll find many picnic spots with tables and barbecue pits, giant fern trees, beautiful wildflowers, and streams. This trail is the best opportunity for a "quick" nature trip and birdwatching.

The path has three covered rest stations on the way up and connects to the El Yunque Trail, which leads to the peak (about another hour uphill). The Mt. Britton observation tower was built in the 1930s by the Conservation Corps and is named after famous botanist Nathaniel Britton. It has an elevation of 3,087 feet and climbs 594 feet in less than a mile. The scenic views from the tower span across the forest all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Prepare to get muddy! Near La Coca waterfall along Road 191 is a very challenging path that posts an elevation change of 656 feet. This trail offers a walk in the lower part of the tabonuco forest. It runs for 1.8 miles one way and requires some effort, so be sure to pack extra water for the uphill return. The natural surface trail has very steep slopes and difficult parts with various streams and river crossings. The trail ends at the Río Mameyes, which is a designated Wild and Scenic river. Be sure to stay on the designated path and follow the markers placed along the way.

Hike to the highest point of the rainforest along a challenging and steep trail. The 4.9-mile out-and-back pathway known as El Toro is uneven and requires you to climb over rocks and fallen trees, which means you'll get a full workout and be somewhat muddy. During the hike, you'll be able to enjoy the varied flora of the forest, changing from tabonuco to fern trees and sierra palms the higher up you get. El Toro is more secluded than the other trails in El Yunque, so it is recommended not to wander off the designated path in order to protect the natural environment and prevent accidentally getting lost.

Explore rushing rivers, tumbling waterfalls and miles of trails through dense rain and old-growth forests. Herds of Roosevelt elk accompany your views and world-class salmon and steelhead fishing beckons.

The Carbon River Rain Forest Nature Trail is a pleasant and easy stroll that offers two short segments which can be combined to create a 0.6 mile roundtrip walk. Both paths penetrate primeval rain forest where giant ferns, maples, and spruce tower above charming cedar puncheon bridges and babbling brooks. This hike is great in any season, and takes on particular wildness in winter. Interpretive signs and photo opportunities abound. Continue reading

The Carbon River Rain Forest Nature Trail is a pleasant and easy stroll that offers two short segments which can be combined to create a 0.6 mile roundtrip walk. Both paths penetrate primeval rain forest where giant ferns, maples, and spruce tower above charming cedar puncheon bridges and babbling brooks. This hike is great in any season, and takes on particular wildness in winter. Interpretive signs and photo opportunities abound.

From the trailhead, choose either path heading left or right. Both return to this same junction. The lefthand path starts on soft dirt and forest duff made up of countless hemlock cones and needles. The forest here is in different stages of maturity; hemlocks are coming into dominance as cedar and spruce are being crowded out. This is deep rain forest.

In shoulder season the trail is often muddy and littered with forest debris such as lobaria that fall from the very top of the trees. Old cedar puncheon bridges slowly succumb to entropy, sinking and rotting one board at a time, and eventually disappear into the muck. Just shy of 0.2 miles in, a string of official tape marks a destroyed bridge, which severs the former loop. Return to the trailhead to complete the hike.

Soon the trail meets the same broken bridge seen earlier, and no more progress can be made. A side trail heads steeply uphill here but it is very strenuous and many times more difficult than the flat nature loop. Return to the trailhead by retracing your steps along the clumsy puncheon boards and note how small you feel as a visitor in this forest.

Hikers can choose between two loops (A or B) on The Rainforest Trail, but both could be done within the same trip. Each route is approximately 1.2km in length, so depending on how fast a walker you are, one route can easily be done within an hour.

The Hoh Rain Forest lies on the west side of Olympic National Park, about a two-hour drive from Port Angeles and under an hour from Forks, Wash. Although the rainforest area is open year-round, the visitor center is closed January through early March, and has limited hours during spring and fall. There is a picnic area near the visitor center with accessible restrooms.

For those with more time, another loop, the Spruce Nature Trail is just 1.2 miles and an elevation gain of only 230 ft. Parts of the trail follow Taft Creek and the Hoh River. Watch for nurse logs, fallen logs that provide a base for newly growing trees. Like the Hall of Mosses Trail, the first 400 ft. of compacted gravel trail has less than a 5% grade with the remaining trail trail being more rugged. Near the beginning of the trail, there is bench to sit and breathe in the forest. 041b061a72


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