Elk Lake Campground via Hoh River Trail
This is a difficult one-way trail to Elk Lake Campground in Olympic National Park. Most backpackers are using the Elk Lake campground as a base camp on their way to the amazing Blue Glacier. The hike is rated as difficult due to its length, 15 miles, and elevation gain, 2800 ft, with most of the climb in the last 3 miles. The hike passes through a pleasant forest of second-growth and old growth trees. Unfortunately, the trail is usually above the river so views of the beautiful glacier-silted river are rare.
Reservations are required to Camp at Elk Lake, via Recreation.gov The campsites are scattered uphill of the lake on the east side and accommodate one tent. The camp includes a privy, bear wire, and emergency shelter. The lake is not very accessible due to vegetation surrounding it, but there are paths near the shelter and logs extending into the lake for access. Water is also available from streams both before and after the lake along the Ho River Trail.
This trail goes by Mineral Creek Falls, the turn around point for many day hikers. There are numerous campgrounds long the way, including Mount Tom Creek Campsites, Five Mile Island Campsite, Happy Four Campsite #2, Happy Four Campsite #1, Olympus Ranger Station Camp, Olympus Ranger Station, Lewis Campsite, 12.4 Miles Camp, 13.2 Miles Camp, and 13.3 Miles Camp.
The trail meanders up and down above the Ho River until 12.4 Miles Camp where the trail begins to steepen and continually climb to Elk Lake. The highlight of this section is the High Ho Bridge, just before the 13.2 Miles Camp.
From Highway 101 turn east onto Upper Ho Road and continue for ~18 miles to the trailhead and visitor center. The parking lot can fill, so consider arriving early.
The Ho River trail is appropriate for children of all ages, although care is needed near the water and the distance to Elk Lake should be consider.
Sights to See
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