Elk Lake Campground via Hoh River Trail

1 review #95 hike out of 333 in
14.5 mi
Distance
7 hrs 21 min
Time
terrain
2,146 ft
Elev Gain

Overview

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.

Five Mile Island Campsite is a nice rest stop with its beach along the Ho River as well as the Olympus Ranger Station with a nearby bench.

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.

Getting Started

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.

Taking Children

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.



    Rate this Hike

    user_profile stars
    5 months, 2 weeks ago
    We hiked this trail in mid-July on weekdays. The Ho River Trail was a nice hike through sometimes old-growth forest and occasional views of the Ho River. The reason for hiking to Elk Lake is to then continue on to Blue Glacier, which was amazing! The trail was crowded on our return on Friday with Mt Olympus climbers, Glacier backpackers, and day hikers closer to the trailhead.
    ★ ★ ★ ★


Public Tracks

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PNWRich 5 years, 5 months ago
PNWRich: Elk Lake to the Hoh Ranger Station
This is the route back from Elk Lake on my Elk Lake to Mount Olympus track. The way in/out is LONG and mostly flat - 12.4 miles worth of flat before the climb starts up to the lake. We camped at Martin Creek, which is the last place where you can have a campfire and there is better water.
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tisha.west 2 years, 7 months ago
Hoh to BG
Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier
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jskroko 1 year, 6 months ago
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Lita 1 year, 7 months ago
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ITuOWbwi5 2 years, 3 months ago
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Ian Glass 2 years, 6 months ago
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sarah.swezey 3 years, 5 months ago
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Amber Chang 3 years, 5 months ago
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Sam 3 years, 9 months ago