Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rain Forest

Forks, WA

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.

End of the path

Crossing a small creek to get further up the beach

We headed to the far sea stack to check for life

Anemones abounded in the rocks

Look closely and you’ll find life everywhere in the rocks

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.

Moving a bit to the south along the beach

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.

Upper Hoh Road

Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center

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.

One of the many huge old growth trees

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.

The root system of an old growth tree

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 . . .

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33 Responses to Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rain Forest

  1. exploRVistas says:

    Oh, most definitely! Hopefully you get to see it when it is dripping wet! That was a standout for us over all our years of traveling. 😊

    • placestheygo says:

      We did get to experience the rain forest in the drizzle and mist when we did the Lover’s Lane/Sol Duc Loop hike with our friends. The wet day made us truly appreciate the beauty in the rain forest. I think we actually started with one of the most spectacular areas so it was a hard act to follow!

  2. Thanks so much for taking us along with you. I really enjoyed your photos. Love the sea otter! Ten year ago Ruby Beach was the first place we got our first close up view of the Pacific Ocean. When we went to the Hoh Rain Forest the entrance to the park was closed (too early in the season) so we did a short hike from a trailhead just outside the entrance.

  3. heyduke50 says:

    you can always try the Queets and Quinalt – the other two temperate rain forests found in the USA

  4. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    Conjures up fine memories… sights, smells, sounds of waves breaking on the rocks, the taste of salt air on my lips…

  5. carol wegner says:

    We’ll be following in your footsteps in a few weeks staying at Dungenous Campground and Klaloch, one of our favorite campsites. We also visit Ruby Beach bright and early when it’s only the fishermen and us!

    • placestheygo says:

      You stay in some very nice areas. Our friends stayed in the Dungeness Spit Campground. Even with all the cars at Ruby Beach, we were basically alone most of the time in our tide pool viewing. I loved that the area was so vast.

  6. Jeff Pierce says:

    It was raining at our campsite at Mora, so we went up to the hoh to hike in the rain in the rain forest. It was sunny and near 80 up there 🙂 Did the short hikes you did, thanks for the memories.

  7. I just loved the tidepools at Ruby Beach!
    It was so hot and dry when we hiked in the Quinault Rainforest we ended up skipping the Hoh. Jim had seen enough trees by then 😉

    • placestheygo says:

      My main goal for this whole trip was getting to the tide pools and seeing the sea stars. I’m glad I got to visit two great areas, Second Beach and Ruby Beach.

      Every time we hike in the trees I find myself thinking, Jim wouldn’t like this…haha! But I feel very much the same way, so I understand.

  8. The otters are pretty cute and anemones colorful. I am jealous of the jacket. We are sweltering in the NE.

  9. An otter…so freaking cool! I’ve never seen one out of the water, what an amazing sight!

    • placestheygo says:

      I’ve been looking everywhere for an otter, so you can just imagine my excitement when this guy jumped up on the rock with a fish in his mouth and then hung around for photos! It was very cool!

  10. Gay says:

    So awesome you saw the otter! And you know how I LOVE the Tidepools…the starfish are beautiful!

  11. Debbie L says:

    Nice! It’s strange, we just don’t get many of the super interesting things on the east coast as out west. We’ve enjoyed many a tide pool in Myrtle Beach but never saw any sea-life. This was amazing! But we did see an otter family once playing in a river/pond forest where we were hiking!

  12. pmbweaver says:

    I love seeing the sea stars and anemones. Brings so many memories back at being at Haystack Rock in Nehalem Bay.
    Oh how I love Hoh Rain Forest. What a gorgeous place. Since we have never been to a rain forest, I love seeing all the photos. What a wonderful adventure.

    • placestheygo says:

      Glad we could take you back to Nehalem Bay! The tide pools along the west coast are so amazing. This was our first visit to a rainforest. It was so wonderful. It was tough to hike very quickly because there was so much to see.

  13. Laurel says:

    It has been driving me crazy to not have internet — but now I can finally read your blog and see your photos! How wonderful that you got to see your otter. Very cute. 🙂 And your tidepools filled with beautiful creatures! I agree with you about the rainforest — the hike we did together was spectacular, and I’m glad we hiked it on a misty day so we could get the full effect.

  14. My friend is going to the Hoh Rainforest next month – sent him your post! Great photos 🙂
    Alicia @ http://www.GirlonaHike.com

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Alicia! Make sure your friend also checks out the Bogachiel River Trail. A more beautiful, eerie rain forest with no people! The trail runs for over 20 miles.

  15. geogypsy2u says:

    The Hoh really does need rain to make it feel right. Seeing the otter is way cool! I too am loving the return of memories from this PNW journey.

  16. Brings so many memories back at being at Haystack Rock in Nehalem Bay.
    Oh how I love Hoh Rain Forest. I agree with you about the rainforest — the hike we did together was spectacular, and I’m glad we hiked it on a misty day so we could get the full effect.

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