An easy loop exploring the enchanting Hoh Rain Forest, the Hall of Mosses is a perfect hike for small children and new hikers. The trail includes many educational signs explaining the wilderness area and its history. The trail is also right next to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, which sells small gifts and maps of the area and is open year-round. The Hoh Rain Forest receives 12-14 feet of precipitation per year and is a temperate rain forest. The Hall of Mosses trail is in the Olympic National Forest, so there is an entry fee to get into the park. The National Forest does not allow pets along the trails. There are restrooms and water fountains available at the Visitor Center, and knowledgeable park rangers to answer any questions! Camping spots are available, but more adventurous hikers can fill out registration at the Visitor Center for dispersed camping.
The Hall of Mosses Trail begins next to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. The 0.8 mile loop features minimal elevation gain, making it an ideal hike for kids and new hikers. From the trailhead, you begin with a slight climb through the dense and majestic forest. Follow signs that demarcate between the Hall of Mosses Trail (to the left) and the Spruce Trail (to the right). Soon you will cross over a pellucid creek and continue climbing up. From here, the trail will earn its name, with trees over a thousand years old covered in hanging moss. Many gigantic fallen trees litter the area. The trees themselves are the main attraction to this trail.
Because of the abundant rainfall, there is a thick green canopy of coniferous and deciduous species of trees covered with thick epiphytic spikemoss. Epiphytes are plants growing on other plants without causing harm. Amongst these trees are Sitka spruce, western red cedar, Douglas fir, and western hemlock--Washington State’s official tree. These trees can grow above 300 feet high and be wider than seven feet in diameter!
Underneath the large trees is a lush undergrowth of green ferns. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife both large and small. There is potential to see large banana slugs and even elk. Because of the popularity of the Hall of Mosses, it is important not to habituate wildlife, so be sure to keep a healthy distance from any wild animals encountered. Next up, the trail’s elevation quickly levels off, then ends with an easy descent back toward the Visitor Center.
Once back at the Visitor Center, there is the option to head along the Spruce Trail for a quick visit to the Hoh River, an easy 1.25 mile hike with almost no elevation gain. More avid hikers/backpackers can head toward the base of Mount Olympus via the Hoh River Trail, a 17.3 mile trip taking you deep through the breathtaking rain forest.
The Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic National Park was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. The Hall of Mosses trailhead is just feet away from the Hoh River, which is eponymous with the Hoh Tribe, a band of Quileutes who are recognized as their own separate tribe.
Native lore contains an origin story in which Those-Who-Live-on-the-Hoh (Chalat’) were created by K’wati, a shape-shifter who made the world as it is today. When he arrived at the Hoh, he discovered a race of upside-down people who walked on their hands and used their feet as arms. He righted them and told them to go and smelt fish out of the river.