The forests of Olympic National Park are famous for the massive, moss-covered trees and lush undergrowth. You may have seen photos of thick fog among the trees or golden light beams piercing through the branches – all stunning scenes of a forest draped in green. For people visiting Olympic National Park, Hall of Mosses is a great place to stop to experience this landscape on a short trail that is great for all hiking levels. Here are some tips for planning your visit!
Getting to Hall of Mosses
The Hall of Mosses lies on the west side of Olympic National Park. From the 101 (the main road around the Olympic Peninsula), turn east, or further inland, down Hoh Valley Road (aka Upper Hoh Road). This pretty road follows the Hoh River and winds through pretty sections of dense forest with peaks sometimes visible above the canopy. The landscape is beautiful, but the road is curvy and narrow at points with many turnouts, so make sure to focus on the road.
The Hoh River Visitor’s Center lies about 18 miles (half an hour) down the paved Hoh Valley Road. As you near the end of the road, you’ll see the Hoh Campground, Ranger Station, and Visitor’s Center. Find a parking spot and head towards the visitor’s center to begin your walk.
We visited on a weekday in the early spring and the parking lot was pretty full. We recommend arriving early during peak times to secure a spot. Otherwise, you may have to be patient and circle to wait for one to open up.
A pass is required to visit the Hoh River Valley. It is best to purchase your pass online and print it beforehand. An Olympic National Park day pass is $30 for a private vehicle and is good for seven days. An annual pass for this park is $55.
Alternatively, you can purchase an America the Beautiful annual national parks pass for $80. Ours had just expired, so we picked one up along with a bear canister at the REI in Olympia before our excursion into the park.
Exploring Hall of Mosses
Hike Type: Easy loop – can combine multiple loops and trails
Distance: Hall of Mosses Trail: 0.8 mi (1.3 km) roundtrip, Spruce Trail: 1.2 miles (1.9 km) roundtrip
Duration: 1-2 hours
Regulations: Drones and pets are not permitted. You must obtain a wilderness permit to camp in the backcountry.
We arrived to the Hoh Valley mid-afternoon after visiting the Sol Duc Valley, Mt. Storm King, and more spots on the northern end of the park. Because we were there later in the day and it was beautiful, sunny weather, the place was busy.
The Hall of Mosses Trail began with a little bridge crossing a creek. The scenery is instantly beautiful with old trees and moss already apparent. As we walked down the trail, the trees encompassed us further and the moss draping from the branches thickened. There were a couple informational signs and rangers strolled along the trail too, answering any questions visitors had.
Not only did the moss cover the trees, but it also covered the rocks, much of the ground, and many of the fallen logs surrounding the trail. It was a truly unique and beautiful scene. Furthermore, the area is also known for its wildlife, from bears and elk to smaller critters like slugs and owls.
After completing the Hall of Mosses Loop, we continued to the nearby Spruce Trail. This trail was a little quieter, but still pretty crowded for our liking. Moss seemed to cover everything along this trail too. We were in awe of how incredibly green everything was!
Both of these loops are pretty flat with only a few steps and rocks here and there. The trails, restrooms, and visitor areas were very well kept.
With access to a few trails and stunning scenery surrounding this part of Olympic National Park, you may want to consider camping near Hall of Mosses. Reservations for the Hoh Campground are available six months in advance online, and we recommend booking as early as you can! There may be 72 sites, but spots fill quickly. Sites cost USD$24 per night in addition to your parks pass. There are food lockers, water, fire rings, and other features, but there are no RV hookups or dump and fill stations here.
If you don’t want or are unable to stay in the Hoh Campground, there are other options nearby. We had heard about a small, free dispersed camping area back towards the start of Hoh Valley Road on Hoh Valley Trust land. The dirt side road is off to the right about 15 minutes down Hoh Valley Road from the 101. These spots are first come, first served and there are no amenities here. Please camp where a fire ring or site has been established previously and pack out all your trash.
Nearby are the Minnie Peterson and the Hoh Oxbow Campgrounds. These campgrounds have nine and eight sites respectively that are occupied on a first-come, first-served basis. The Washington Department of Natural Resources runs them, and we understand that the sites are free as long as you have a Discovery Pass.
If you want to do some backpacking, the Hoh River Trail offers around 18 miles of pretty scenery with backcountry camping opportunities. Backcountry camping requires a Wilderness Camping Permit that can be reserved online. For more information, see the park website.
What to Bring to Visit Hall of Mosses
Water: An essential for any hike. You may be able to refill your bottle at the visitor’s center
Passes: Bring your parks pass and display it in your vehicle
Sun Protection: Though most of this trail is very shaded, we always recommend bringing a form of sun protection, such as a hat, sunscreen, and/or sunglasses
Hiking Shoes: This trail is fairly flat, but is frequently muddy. Check the weather to determine if you’ll want your water resistant/proof shoes.
Layers: Even in the summer, mornings and evenings among the mossy trees can be chilly, so bring layers. A rain jacket is a good idea since this area of Washington gets a significant amount of rain. In the winter, heavier coats, gloves, and jackets may be necessary.
Camera: This is an incredibly beautiful place to photograph
Final Notes on Visiting Hall of Mosses
Hall of Mosses is a great stop if you’re hoping to see some of Olympic National Park’s stunning forests with an easy trail. The opportunity to see a wide variety of flora and fauna also makes this place an incredible spot to visit. It is one of the more popular stops in the park, so try to arrive early or explore the area later in the afternoon. The crowds made the place not quite as peaceful as we had imagined.
Furthermore, we honestly didn’t think the landscape was much mossier than what we had seen near Marymere Falls and the Staircase Rapids. That said, we were camping in the area and of course didn’t regret making a stop. Overall, we recommend visiting if you have the time in your Olympic National Park Itinerary.
Lastly, while the hike sits right off a paved road near a developed visitor’s center, the trails and Hoh Valley Road can close due to flooding, seasonal variables, and more. Check the park website for closures and updates before your trip.