Early this week we drove about 30 miles south of Forks on US 101 to check out the tide pools at Ruby Beach. We’ve been fortunate that low tide has occurred during mid-afternoon for most of our stay here, allowing us to visit the beaches at the best time to see the sea life. Ruby Beach is very popular so we felt fortunate to find a parking place and quickly headed down the path to the beach.
As we searched the rocks we noticed a little head popping up in a nearby pool. It turned out to be a little sea otter enjoying lunch.
We moved a bit to the south and found a group of rocks covered with sea stars and anemones.
As we ended our visit the fog began to roll in and the temperature began to drop, indicating that it was time to head home!
The next day we again drove south on US 101 for about 15 miles and turned to the east on the Upper Hoh Road. From there it is 18 miles to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center in Olympic National Park.
The Hoh is one of the best remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the country. Throughout the winter rain falls frequently here, contributing to the yearly total of 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet!) of precipitation each year. The result is a lush, green canopy of both coniferous and deciduous species. Mosses and ferns blanket the forest floor.
There are three trails that begin near the visitor center. Two are short ones, the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles) and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles) while the Hoh River Trail goes out 17 miles into the mountains. We hiked all three, beginning with the Hoh River Trail. Someone told us there was a nice waterfall near the trail a little less than three miles from the visitor center, so we made that our turnaround point.
The waterfall was a bit difficult to photograph, but we were able to hike up a side trail to a spot near its base where we enjoyed a snack.
At one point the trail made its way along the side of the Hoh River.
Below is a colonnade of Sitka spruce and western hemlock that straddles the remains of its nurse log. We saw numerous examples of this where the nurse log has moldered completely away leaving the buttressed roots of the trees exposed.
While we enjoyed exploring the Hoh Rain Forest area, we didn’t think that it had that same eerie rainforest atmosphere we experienced on our hike with Erik and Laurel on the Lover’s Lane/Sol Duc Trail last month near Crescent Lake. The warm, dry weather may have contributed to the absence of a “rain forest” feeling.
We have a hike planned before we leave the area in the rain forest just north of the Hoh River so we may find that a bit more interesting. More on that later . . .