Last year, I started a loose blog series called “Cool Hikes with Kids.” The idea is to share with you hikes that are kid-friendly not only in terms of distances and elevation, but also in capturing your children’s interest! I’ve also shared other locations in the Pacific Northwest our family has visited that I think you should know about (I’ll link to some of these at the bottom of this post!).
Today I’m excited to share with you what is likely to be my kids’ new favorite hike, ever. The Hoh Rain Forest at the Olympic National Park. While this hike does require quite the drive if you live in the Puget Sound area as I do, I promise, it’ll be worth it! (So just plan accordingly.) We opted to drive to Forks, stay there overnight and then head to the Rain Forest the next morning. Of course, if you’re an early bird, this step may not be necessary!
As the hikes I’m about to share today are in the National Park, yes, you will need a parks pass. There are a couple ways you may get entry for free. First, visit on one of the National Parks fee-free days. Second, if you’re lucky enough to have a 4th grader as I have you can score the Every Kid in a Parks Pass which is good through August 2018. From the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, there are a couple great easy hikes you can do.
The first is called the “Hall of Mosses” and it’s a loop with right about a mile’s distance and will take you anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on how fast (or slow) you’d like to hike. Of course if you’re like my family, you have to stop like every 10 steps because there’s just so much to take in!
What’s really remarkable about the rainforest is that it’s not often touched by fire (obviously!). As a result, you have so much biomass and one extremely diverse ecosystem.
From the minute you set foot on the trail, you’ll encounter lush, green moss EVERYWHERE.
It just feels like everything is growing on everything! New trees spring up from fallen trees. Many times, we found trees growing together, too!
There are so many wonderful places for photo opportunities – my camera never got put away!
Would you believe that these moss-covered trees are actually cedar trees?
My kids did not want to leave this place, and they have both told me they want pictures from it all over their walls! It really did feel magical. It was also so, so quiet. We didn’t encounter many hikers and it definitely felt less busy than Hurricane Ridge or other parts of the Park.
There are so many great spaces to explore!
Check out this beautiful heron we spotted on our trek!
After the Hall of Mosses, we hiked the Spruce Nature Trail. This trail is also flat, also departs from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, and is also a loop. It is just under a mile and a half in length.
My daughter wanted me to take a picture of the root structure of this fallen tree. Notice the other trees growing on top of it? I asked my son what he was doing in this picture and he said he was trying to drink some of the rain! (Yes, it aptly rained on our visit through the rain forest!)
There are some pretty little streams to encounter on this trail!
I hope you’ll plan a trip here! If you do, I would say be prepared for rain! As the name suggests, it does rain here – a lot. We just wore regular tennis shoes and were fine, but there were a few muddy spots. We also wore raincoats. We visited during the week, and were disappointed to see that the Visitor Center was only open on weekends. Given how sparse services are here, please plan accordingly. Definitely bring some water and food. If you have older children and/or are so inclined, there are longer hikes you can do from this starting point, including ones that require permits. Make sure to visit the Olympic National Park website to plan your trip!
I hope I’ve encouraged you to pack the fam and visit the Hoh Rain Forest! You won’t be disappointed! I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories if you’ve been here, too.
Looking for some other hikes or places to take your kids? Check out these posts:
- Mima Mounds (Olympia, Washington) – walk, explore, natural wonder
- Penrose Point State Park (Gig Harbor, Washington) – amazing beach with shells and low tide wonders, trails
- Sequalitchew Creek Trail (Du Point, Washington) – hike, beach
- Flaming Geyser State Park (Auburn, Washington) – hike
- Dash Point State Park – Beach Trail (Tacoma/Federal Way, Washington) – hike, beach
- Hylebos (Federal Way, Washington) – great nature walk spot
- Charlotte’s Blueberry Park (Tacoma, Washington) – visit in summer for free blueberries!