Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Hiking Hiking Guide Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake

Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake

Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast
47.8536, -123.9512 Map & Directions
Length
33.0 miles, roundtrip
Waterfall on trail to Elk Lake. Photo by Dave Wald. Full-size image
  • Ridges/passes
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Mountain views
  • Established campsites
  • Waterfalls
  • Old growth

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

Beautiful multi-day hike that shows off the beauty of the Hoh Rainforest. Hike on relatively level ground until the last two miles, which climb to Elk Lake Campground, a good place to start a day hike to the glacier. Continue reading

Rating
4.50 out of 5

(4 votes) Log in to rate

Hiking Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake

The hike to Elk Lake on the Hoh River trail is a wonderful multi-day hike that shows off the beauty of the Hoh Rainforest. Hike on relatively level ground until the last two miles, which climb to Elk Lake Campground, which is a good place to start a day hike to the glacier.

Along the way into camp, hikers will enjoy views of magnificent old growth rainforests and rushing rivers along a trail that meanders along a level grade until arriving at Five Mile Island, several gravel bars that form braids in the mighty river. Elk lurk in the grasses here, so hikers keep a weather eye out!

Continue past Five Mile Island through dense understory to a log bridge where you reenter a beautiful forest full of cedars and mosses. Here, begin climbing until you reach a broad view of the river, nearly nine miles in, and shortly come to the Olympic Ranger Cabin. If you have time, a spur trail near the cabin takes you to a wide gravel bar in the river that offers stellar views up the valley you're hiking through.

Move on, exiting the meadow and entering forest before arriving at a fork for the Hoh Lake Trail. Stay on the Hoh River Trail, though the trail will gradually lead away from the water. Never fear though, the trail returns to the riverside at the 12-mile mark, where hikers are greeted with forceful rapids.

From here the trail begins to climb for the last three miles as you cross a bridge after a mile of hiking. Be sure to stop and snap a photo from the bridge -- the deep gorge plunging away below you and the impressive fork in the river are excellent photo material.

The trail gets even steeper past the bridge, snaking through more forest before entering a more alpine environment. Soon pass Martin Creek campground, the last place on the forest where hikers may have fires. Continue past Martin Creek and onto your final destination: Elk Lake.

The lakeside is packed by trees and brushy areas, but campsite trails make it easier to get to the water. Be sure to head to the north end of the lake for the real treat: views of Mount Olympus and the surrounding craggy peaks.

Hike Description Written by
Multiple authors contributed to this report, WTA Community

Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.8536, -123.9512 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

See weather forecast

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Drive Hwy 101 to the turnoff for the Hoh River Road, about 12 miles south of Forks.

More Hike Details

Trailhead

Olympic Peninsula > Pacific Coast

Olympic National Park

You can improve or add to this guidebook entry

Hoh River Trail to Elk Lake

42 Trip Reports

Hiked here recently?

Submit a trip report!
 
Trip Reports