Hall of Mosses: Olympic National Park Trail Guide

One of the most popular hiking trails in Olympic National Park is the Hall of Mosses. This unique trail shows off some of the best views in the Hoh Rain Forest in a short and sweet distance. Keep reading for everything you need to know about hiking this stunning moss- and fern-covered trail. 

Hall of Mosses trail, Olympic National Park Hikes | Hoh Rainforest

It’s easy to understand why words like “magical,” “dreamy,” and “fairytale-like” are often used to describe the Hall of Mosses trail. 

One of the most iconic (and popular!) hikes in Olympic National Park, moss covers just about every visible surface. Literally everywhere you look is lush, verdant green! Ferns stand as tall as many adults and ancient trees tower 200-300 feet overhead. 

Needless to say, pictures don’t do the Hall of Mosses justice! Amazingly, though, you can experience all this Hoh Rain Forest epic-ness in a super short, super sweet hike

Let’s dive into why this hike totally lives up to its hype! 

Hall of Mosses Trail Guide

Psst! Check out our entire Olympic National Park guide on our sister site for more information on visiting the national park and what you can expect. 

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Hall of Mosses trail stats

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington
  • Location: Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington
  • Distance: 1.1-mile loop
  • Elevation gain: 78 feet
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Timing: 1 hour to hike, but plan for extra time to enter the park and get to the trailhead
  • Pets: No
  • Permits: No hiking permit required, but you will need to pay park admission or have an annual park pass 
  • View the trail notes

Hall of Mosses hike overview

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

It’s honestly hard to believe the incredible effort-to-reward ratio that the Hall of Mosses delivers. In just one ultra-easy mile, you get up-close and personal with some of the best scenery in the Pacific Northwest. 

Lush, bright green moss carpets every surface, from the forest floor to the tree branches hundreds of feet above. Giant ferns line the trail and as you look around, your eyes take in hundreds of shades of green. 

All this magical drippy green scenery is the result of a mind-boggling amount of moisture. The Hoh Rain Forest gets an average of 12 FEET of rain each year, making it one of the wettest places in the continental US. It’s truly one of those places you have to see to believe.

The Hall of Mosses trail is so short that it feels like if you blink, you’ll miss it. This is one hike you won’t want to rush through! Luckily, you can easily hop on two other trails to extend your time in the rainforest. 

Things to know before you go

As one of the busiest, most popular trails in ONP, there are several things you should know before hiking to the Hall of Mosses. 

Best time of year for the Hall of Mosses hike

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

The Hall of Mosses is accessible year-round, but we’d say the best time to hike it is early fall (September and October). Summer crowds thin out after Labor Day, and this is also the tail end of the “dry” season—in quotation marks because, of course, it’s never really very dry!

On that note, the rainforest does actually experience some dryness in the summer. 

The moss and lichens go dormant, ferns start to wilt, and the forest’s verdant green hues aren’t quite as vibrant during spells of no rain. Combined with the heavy crowds, we actually recommend avoiding summer.

And at the opposite end of the spectrum, if you don’t mind rain or if photography is your main priority, the Hall of Mosses is pretty magical in winter and spring. 

How long does it take to hike the Hall of Mosses trail?

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

You can complete the entire Hall of Mosses hike in as little as 30 minutes, although most people take about an hour, factoring in stops to take photos or simply gaze at the forest.

With that said, it’s important to note that the longest part of your day will likely be just getting to the trailhead. On busy weekends, wait times to get into the parking lot frequently exceed two hours! 

Factor this into your timeframe, along with the minimum 45-minute drive from just about anywhere. 

How difficult is the Hall of Mosses hike?

The Hall of Mosses hike is very easy—truthfully more of a walk. The trail is wide and mostly flat with minimal elevation gain, and there’s nothing technical to worry about. 

You may have to duck under or step over some fallen trees and roots stick up in some places, but those are the only obstacles on the trail. 

National Park Annual Pass 

National Park Pass

If you’re planning to visit more than one of the Washington national parks, we’d highly encourage you to look into getting an annual park pass. At $30 per vehicle for the entrance fee, visiting Mount Rainier National Park along with most other national parks in the U.S. can get expensive.

For just $80 per year, you can purchase the America the Beautiful Park Pass. This pass grants you free access to all of the national parks. Plus it also covers your entrance to over 2,000 natural, historical, and recreational sites across the United States.

If you still need convincing, check out our article: America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass: Is it Worthwhile?

Psst! Check out some of our other favorite national parks on the west coast that make great hiking destinations.

Wildlife on the trail

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

Mountain lions and Roosevelt elk both frequent the Hoh Rain Forest, although you’re far more likely to see some elk. The Hall of Mosses is consistently busy enough that mountain lions aren’t much of a concern, but you may see signs posted about recent sightings.

It doesn’t happen very often, but park rangers may temporarily close the trail due to aggressive wildlife behavior. This is most common during the fall rut season for elk, and closures typically only last a few hours until they move on. 

Black bears also live on the Olympic Peninsula and while they have been spotted in the Hoh Rain Forest, it’s extremely rare. Again, there are too many people for them!

As always, if you do encounter any type of wildlife, keep a safe distance. The general rule is that you should be able to completely cover the animal from view if you stick up your thumb. If you can still see it, you’re too close. 

Finally, while some people may not consider them ‘wildlife,’ there are hundreds (thousands?) of different insects in the rainforest

You may encounter caterpillars, slugs, spiders…the list goes on and on. Some of them may bite or sting, or be poisonous, so it should go without saying to not touch them or get too close. 

The route

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

We broke down the route for hiking the Hall of Mosses trail into parts to give you an idea of what to expect on the route.

The hike starts from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center parking lot. Right by the information boards, look for signs pointing the way toward the Hall of Mosses. 

Very quickly, you’ll cross a picturesque footbridge over Taft Creek. If you’re hiking in the fall or winter, look down into the water—you may see Coho salmon swimming around!

Not even one-tenth of a mile in, the trail forks. Follow the signs to go left to the Hall of Mosses. From this point on, the trail is a one-way loop (which you’ll hike clockwise). 

Immediately after getting on the actual trail, there’s a very gradual uphill climb for a few minutes. Remember, the trail gains less than 80 feet of elevation total, so it is truly a gentle climb. 

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington

There are railings in some places, which are especially helpful when it’s muddy. And if you find that you need a rest or just want a few extra minutes to take in the peaceful scenery, benches are placed throughout the loop.

0.3 miles in, don’t miss the little side path to Maple Grove. Exactly what it sounds like, the path leads you to a viewpoint overlooking a stand of beautiful moss-covered, big-leaf maple trees. 

When you hit half a mile, you’ll start to descend those 80 feet you gained and just like that, you’ll be finished. 

Tips for hiking the Hall of Mosses

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington
  • Wear rain gear and waterproof boots or shoes. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the wettest places in the Lower 48, so the chances of rain are high any time of year. And even if it doesn’t rain during your hike, the trail is almost always muddy and very wet.
  • Factor in plenty of time to enter the park. On summer weekends and other popular dates, it’s not at all unheard of to have to wait over two hours just to get into ONP. 
  • Take your time. The hike is truly shorter than you think, and there’s SO much to see and experience. Trust us, you’ll kick yourself if you rush through.
  • There’s not much of a sunset in the Hall of Mosses. Because of the thick, tall canopy of trees, you lose light quickly in the Hoh Rain Forest. Account for that when you’re planning your entire day’s itinerary. 
  • Be sure to look up! Some of the most impressive scenery on this hike is on the forest’s ceiling.
  • Consider adding the Spruce Nature Trail or Hoh River Trail to extend your hike. Both trails are also easy and start from the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. 
  • It’s a trek to reach the trailhead. The Hall of Mosses hike is 45 minutes from the closest town, teeny-tiny Forks (yes, the same Forks from Twilight!), two hours from Port Angeles, and 4.5 hours from Seattle. 

Where to camp at Olympic National Park

Campervan Lyre River Campsite in Washington
Lyre River Campground

Accommodation is extremely limited in and around Olympic National Park, but fortunately, there is a campsite very close to the Hall of Mosses.

The 72-site Hoh Rain Forest Campground is open year-round. Reservations are required during peak season, from April through September. Outside of this timeframe, the campground is first-come, first-served.

All sites are $24 per night, and they accommodate tents or RVs up to 21 feet. There are flush toilets and potable water, but no dump station. 

We stayed at a place called the Lyre River Campground on our first visit to Olympic National Park and we liked it so much we came back to stay on our return trip.

What to pack for hiking the Hall of Mosses trail

Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park Washington
  • Navigation: we recommend using Alltrails+ to download the offline trail map
  • Hiking daypack 
  • Water bottles and/or bladder for your Camelbak
  • Dry bag (we always carry one with us for our valuables in case of rain)
  • Bug repellant
  • Sun protection: sunscreen, hat, sun glasses
  • Headlamp (if hiking during darker hours)
  • Camera/tripod (this one’s our favorite for hiking)
  • Lots of layers (here is a great resource if you’re wondering what to wear hiking)
  • Rain jacket (you truly never know when a rainstorm will hit in the PNW!)
  • Comfortable hiking boots or shoes
  • Plenty of snacks: check out our favorite hiking snacks here!

Be sure to grab our ultimate hiking packing list includes our must-have gear for any hiking trail!

Hiking Packing List | Go Wander Wild
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Hall of Mosses Hiking Guide | Go Wander Wild
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Comment below if you have questions or want to share your experience doing the Hall of Mosses hike at Olympic National Park in Washington state and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

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