Living in Seattle means I don’t often get over the Olympic Mountains. For whatever reason the stars aligned this spring and I not only did my first solo hike in the Olympics, but I also went on a killer camping trip to the Hoh Rainforest. We hiked the Hoh River Trail to the Happy Four Shelter campsite, about 6 miles, to spend the night sleeping next to the calming sounds of the Hoh River. This Washington rainforest is an incredible sight in the springtime when everything is at its most green. Clovers the size of your hand, rushing waterfalls and really, really big trees make the Hoh River Trail a surreal place.
We left Seattle Friday evening and took the Edmonds-to-Kingston ferry. We arrived late at our car-camping site, but sit were able to score a nice spot at Sequim Bay State Park near the boat launch. The night was filled with stars in the sky and bioluminescence in the water. It made for quite the beautiful night, followed by a fantastic, classic, northwest foggy morning. What was once a clear view across the water turned into a cloud of white mist that was gorgeous in its own eerie way.
After breakfast we continue our trip westward to the Olympic National Park welcome center. We got a pass and registered for our spot on the trail, then continued the drive to the coast. You have to drive all the way to the ocean to get to the Hoh River Trail entrance, but the drive is beautiful and you have the option of stopping at one of Washington’s most famous beaches—Ruby Beach—on the way in or out.
The Hoh River Trail is a 32.8 mile trail with a number of campsites and points of interest along the way. The trail is varied, but suitable for most all ages as it doesn’t seem to have much elevation. However, should you be looking to hike in further I’d definitely suggest doing some more research. We went about 3 miles to Tom Creek, but found many of the good campsites to be taken. We had some energy to burn still, so we kept hiking to the 5.7 mile mark where Happy Four Shelter is. Those that are there for a good day hike normally go 4 miles in to the waterfall and turn around, so traffic lightens up quite a bit after that. Happy Four, or as we called it “Happy Hour” was a great little riverfront area with a number of campsites spaced out moderately.
It was a fun night of campfire food, bourbon and chats by the campfire. Surprisingly it wasn’t too cold at night for a mid-April night as we lucked out with an uncharacteristically sunny day to hike in. The morning hike back to the parking lot was cooler, but we did spot an group of elk about 10 minutes before we arrived back at the trailhead. I spent most of the hike back looking for a 4-leaf clover (the clovers in the rainforest are the size of your palm by the way), which I finally spotted after at least an hour and a half of looking at the ground. They DO exist! A perfect way to end an awesome camping trip.