Low Point: 600'
High Point: 4200'
DirectionsFrom Forks, follow Highway 101 South until reaching the turnoff for the Hoh River Ranger Station, Olympic National Park (its very well signed, you can't miss it!). Follow this road to its end, the trail starts there!
The Hoh River trail in the Olympics is great…you get great scenery, and best of all, the path stays in the valley bottom where the hiking is mostly flat and easy. There are many meadows and camping places along the way, so the trail can be taken as slow as you want it to be. The forests are wonderful as well, and there are occasionally good views of the mountains along the way. There is some great camping near the Olympus Guard Station (somewhere around 9 miles out) because of the great meadows. A mile past the guard station the trail to Hoh Lake and High Divide intersect with the trail, very worthy side trails. Eventually, the trail starts climbing a little more as it crosses the Hoh River at around 12 miles where there is a good view up the valley towards Mt. Carrie. From there the trail starts climbing up the Glacier Creek Valley. Be sure to check out a nice waterfall shortly before a creek crossing…you’ll hear it and get partial views from the trail, but run down the side of the trail for even better views. At around 14 miles, you get to Elk Lake, which is a pretty peaceful lake, with some views of Mt. Olympus, but since you are right under it, they are kind of obscured. A few miles past the lake, lies Glacier Meadows and an awesome viewpoint of Blue Glacier.
Just did this hike during mid-December and it was great. We had one overcast day, one day of rain, and one day of brilliant sunshine. Most of the hike was spent with about a half to an inch of snow on the ground, but snowy conditions never posed any problems for us. On the first day out, we saw a herd of Elk, as well as a Black Bear that was hangin' out with the Elk. The trail was washed out in several locations, which posed some challenge in routing around the obstacles. Some of the stream crossings posed challenges, but nothing to severe. We made it out to the Olympus Guard Station before turning around.