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Easy Day Trips from Seattle: the Hoh Rainforest and Hall of Mosses

March 19, 2014 at 1:02 PM | by | ()

Seattle, home of the Space Needle, Starbucks, and so much more, is worth a trip to the Pacific Northwest alone – but not exploring further what Washington State has to offer while you’re there would be a shame. This week, we’re completing our look at a few options for a one-day or multi-day trip from the city.

Part 3: the Hoh Rainforest and Hall of Mosses (see here for part 1 and part 2)

If we had to give one reason for extending your stay on the Olympic Peninsula to a few days, it would be this: the Hoh River Valley, its temperate rainforest, and the Hall of Mosses trail.

Annual precipitation of up to 150 inches (380 cm) makes this one of the wettest places in the continental United States, and consequently almost unnaturally lush and beyond vividly green. Driving down the 101, about 8 miles south of Forks you will see the turnoff for the Hoh River Valley, which takes you 17 miles into the heart of the peninsula to the Hoh Visitor Center. Hiking trails range from easy walks (like the Hall of Mosses trail we’ll come onto in a second) to multi-day treks.

The 17-mile drive, following the river in parts, is lovely in and of itself, winding through thick forest and occasionally opening up to views of the mountain peaks in the distance. Like we said earlier, bring rain gear and don’t expect sunshine, but the grey skies feel pretty apt and add a mysterious, haunting atmosphere.

The Hall of Mosses Trail starts near the Visitor Center and at just .8 miles should be manageable for almost everyone (but as always, ask at the Visitor Center before setting out). Short as it is, it’s a beautiful trail and shows just how conducive to plant life the conditions are.

Almost everything is covered in thick layers of moss, including giant carpets that hang from tree branches overhead.

Multiple trees sprout from the remains of one that used to stand equally tall. Signs along the route explain more about the vegetation and the specific aspects of the environment, including the fact that some plants can survive on the fertile air alone, allowing this ‘plant on plant’ life to continue without damaging the ‘host’ tree for instance.

There are a range of other trails to take you further into the wilderness; the National Park Service has plenty of information if you want to know more.

Next, we'll make a final Olympic Peninsula stop on the western beaches of the Pacific Coast.

[Photos: JasonD]

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