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Jordan DeCoster reviewed Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier Trail
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 1, 2021
HikingFloodedGreat!MuddyWashed out

Did this trail January 1st as a new years adventure. 5 stars for the beautiful Washington scenery. But i would definitely recommend rain gear and rain boots. Trail gets completely flooded out about 5-6 miles in a bit past the first campground. Worth the views though! Get out, Get wEt!

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 17, 2020
HikingFeeGreat!MuddyWashed out

My wife and I did a day trip to Olympic NP back in 2013; we were able to spend about 30 minutes max in the Hoh River Rainforest. I knew returning to this enchanted area to complete the trail to the Blue Glacier would become a bucket list item. We were avid day hikers back then, but had never worked up the courage to go backpacking. Fast forward to June 2019 and, after a few 3 day/2 night and overnight trips at various parks over the years, I was ready to fulfill this dream and debark on my first solo trip (my wife passed on it due to the distance). I camped the first night at Lewis Meadows, the 2nd night at Elk Lake, and made the 17 mile trek from Elk Lake to the trailhead on the final day. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Blue Glacier. I got as far as the ladder at the washout portion. So did it live up to my expectations? Mostly, yes, though the disappointment of not seeing the Glacier still sticks with me. Still, the adventure is always in the journey and I find myself reminiscing about this trail often. A few honest assessments: 1) The first 13 miles are about an easy as a backpacking trail can get; it's virtually flat the entire time. Once you hit the bridge (the height is quite impressive here), it's a steady climb that become more steep the further you go. While I wouldn't say this is a difficult trail, the miles add up and I was pretty gassed by the time I reached the ladder. Don't underestimate the elevation gain. 2) If you don't make it all the way to the Blue Glacier, it can all feel like a bit of a waste. There are few points of interest or impressive views until the end. 5 Mile Island has some nice campsites, but I wouldn't exactly say it's a destination in itself. After this, the scenery becomes redundant and you'll find yourself begging for a change as the miles add up. However, I would say the building suspense as you sense yourself getting closer to your goal makes up for this. 3) Lewis Meadows is a very nice campground; sites are well-spaced out and a few are even private. However, the trek to actually get to the river is considerable. Elk Lake was a bit less impressive. As somebody else mentioned, it's more of a big high-altitude pond. There are no activities you can actually do on the pond. It took me forever to find the trail leading to the water (it's behind the large tree across from the rain shelter). The campground itself is on a hill and you're pretty close to your neighbors. The Martin Creek campground seemed more appealing (though the main trail cuts through that campground). 4) Some people say the ladder is no biggie. Others say it's a bit sketchy, but very doable. I'll admit to being a bit terrified of it. I'll cut myself some slack after factoring in I was pretty fatigued and a steady rain was falling, but it may be unnerving to some, especially if you're going solo. 5) I'll state the obvious: prepare for a lot of precipation. Rain pants will come in handy since parts of the trail after Elk Lake become overgrown. Waterproof/trash bags for food suspended from bear wires are a must and I was really wish I had a footprint for my tent. The long distance (forget what the signage says. It's about 20 miles one way) makes for several options on how to tackle this trail. Each has its pluses and minuses. A) Some people set up basecamp at Lewis Meadows and day hike to to the glacier in one day. This is probably a good option if you're not a fan of carrying weight uphill. This does make for one LONG tiring day and removes some of the fun of backpacking to your destination. B) Lewis Meadow or the Guard Station the first night with Martin Creek/Elk Lake the second night. Gives a different campground each night and allows you to drop your gear before the toughest elevation. C) Some combination of the above and staying at Glacier Meadows. Gives the fullest satisfaction of making it to the last campsite with all your gear and allows travel to the glacier twice. However, if the ladder concerns you already, trying to descend it with a full backpack will seem a bit nutty. D) The one tent sites in the 12 and 13 mile marker range make for really intriguing options as they are doable destinations for the first night and allow most of the toughest elevation without your packs. If you like having some company around you, these might not be for you and I'm not sure about the water situation at these locations. Ultimately, I had a great time and you can't go wrong with this trail. It's great for novice backpackers or experienced ones looking for a rewarding hike that's not really taxing until the end. Hikers of a wide range of fitness levels should be able to finish this trail by carefully considering the different campsite options. Now I can't wait to come back and actually finish this one!

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Jennifer Ranieri reviewed Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier Trail
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 30, 2020
Hiking

Amazing trail, very easy to follow. The leaves are yellow and still changing! Words can't describe how pretty this trail is. About .10 from the trail head I saw a small family of elk. Another bulk elk across the river at .5 miles cat calling the ladies. As others have mentioned, the ladder / rope section is fine. Just go slowly and pay attention to footing. Camped two nights at Elk Lake. Awesome camp site but beware the mice! They chewed through my dry bag that was suspended from the bear wire. Clearly these are well trained mountaineer mice. I recommend a bear can or suspending a Kevlar stuff sack. Hung out at the glacier for 4 hours on Thursday, October 1. I had the place to myself the entire time.

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Amanda Cherkauskas reviewed Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier Trail
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 1, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

It was definitely beautiful!

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 26, 2020
CampingGreat!

Worth going to Lateral and Terminal points for the glacier. The benefit of camping at Glacier Meadows is that you can enjoy a sunrise or a sunset, or both at the glacier. The washed out section isn't too bad. I had a caribiner and just clipped into my backpacks waist strap to repel down.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 25, 2020
Backpacking

Serenity

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 24, 2020
Hiking
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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 19, 2020
HikingMuddyRockyWashed out

Fabulous, challenging hike. I definitely recommend it. Here's some info that might be useful: My Itinerary: I hiked in to Lewis Meadows, an 11.5 miles stretch, and set up camp. From there, I hiked up to the glacier and back on the next day, a 17-mile round trip, and then back out on day 3. One thing I would've done differently: The hike up to the glacier was pretty grueling. There's no exceedingly steep sections, but it's a steady, unrelenting climb. Given the option, I would've preferred to camp at either Camp 12.4 or 13.2 to shave off some miles from the ascent to the glacier. Those camps are really small, however, and weren't available.  Useful Details: The Hoh River is very silty, which means it's a destroyer of water filters. In some sections, this made water more scarce than you would expect in the Olympics. It wasn't a huge issue, but it's something to be aware of. The only water source at Lewis Meadows is from the silty Hoh, and it's a bit of a trek to get to it. If that's not an issue for you, the camp itself is very spacious, has plenty of shade, bear wires, and even a cedar wood pooper! I found the notorious ladder section to be a 4/10 on the sketchy scale. I didn't feel like my life was on the line, but I was careful to move slowly and keep my focus. Once you've descended the ladder, you have to go up and across the rock pile to get back on the trail, which isn't visible from the bottom of the rope ladder. Lastly, check the weather! I got dumped on for two days straight and came back a swamp thing! Still worth the experience though!! 

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 17, 2020
BackpackingGreat!

Two night stay at the Olympus guard station. The second day we day hiked up to glacier and back and we happy we didn’t have our full packs. Trail was pretty crowded. This hike is a nice forest walk with the only real view point at the end.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 14, 2020
BackpackingBugsGreat!MuddyRockyScrambleWashed out

Hiked this in 4 days, 3 nights. Long stretch of beautiful rainforest with very few views of the goal, but all working up to the crescendo of finally arriving at the glacier. Fantastic! First day to Lewis Meadows. Nice camp site with very few actual riverside spots and only water is silty river water which is a bit of a slog to access. Filters functioned without issue though. 3 bear cables available were loaded down but functioning well. Second day to Elk Lake. No lake view. Nice water at stream 0.3 before camp ground. If doing it again would stop at Martin Stream campground instead as it was less crowded, set up well and fires are allowed. Not sure if there are bear cables though so may need a bear can for that site. Got up early on the third day for a slack pack to the glacier and back. The washout ladder is no joke but doable with patience, confidence and some skill. Saw people navigate it several different ways going down and back up. Forward, backward, ladder rungs, next to ladder rungs. Everyone used the rope for support and stability. After having the glacier and crystal clear views of Mt Olympus to ourselves for 30 mins, we hiked back to Elk Lake, broke down camp and hiked back to Olympic Ranger Station for our last night. Nice sites with same river water. 2 of 3 bear cables functioning. Last day made for an easy hike out. This hike plan worked well for our group of 4 ranging in age from 50 - 57, 2 women, 2 men. Thank you to the trail maintainers! What a pleasure to hike this trail!

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking

Got a late start and didn’t get to trail head till 5pm. Even that late the parking was packed. Only hiked a few miles the first night to Tom’s creek. Then up to Olympus Guard Station the 2nd day. Stayed 2 nights at Olympus. Day 3 tried to do a day hike up to the glacier but only made it to Elk Lake. Definitely need to get back to pre-COVID shape. As far as the trip, great hike overall. Mosquitos weren’t bad but the flies were a pain at times. Gorgeous along the river. And once you got past all the day hikers was a little more pleasant. Not knocking day hikers as I do that a bit myself but it always seems that day hikers in the National Parks are a bit more obnoxious and unaware that they are merely visitors and not owners of the park. Day hikers weeded out at about 5 mile camp. Elk lake was a bit of a let down as was expecting more alpine clear type lake and was more like a lowland murky ponds. So if camping up that way I would recommend trying to snag 12.4 mile camp or 13.3 mile camp. Then making way up to glacier. If trying to get a little closer, Martin’s creek is just before Elk lake and much nicer. Last day hiked back to trailhead. Few more of them day hikers :) For a Tuesday park lot still packed at 2pm. All in all was a great hike with a nice river and beautiful rain forest landscape. Would do this one again and maybe even make it to the glacier next time.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 7, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail along the bank of the Hoh River. Flat with lots of turn off space for social distancing. Beautifully treed and vegetated. Only went 2 miles in, pressed for time. Would like to return. Fair number of fellow hikers in August 2019.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 4, 2020
Hiking

Such a beautiful trail, we planned on taking it easy and doing this in three days but ended up doing it in two. We did a short afternoon hike out to Lewis meadows campsite where we stayed the night, left our tent and gear there and just took our packs with water and snacks up to blue glacier. Once we got up there it was only 11:30, we hiked back down in no time and realized we could easy hike back to the car since most of the trail is flat so we completed 26 miles the second day. I’d suggest breaking it up a tad more evenly and camping at elk lake, but either way not a super demanding hike. We didn’t have any issues with bugs and once we were out about 6 miles the crowds weren’t constant. I will say there was a family at the campsite who was being rather loud at night which for someone who goes out into nature for some peace and quiet I was a little frustrated, so please keep in mind you aren’t the only ones out there.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 29, 2020
BackpackingBugsFee

Beautiful maintained trail and backpack camp sites! Bear wires easily accessed at all sites (except 5 mile). Only a few spots of trail with some overgrowth, but no trouble at all. The sign mileage really felt inaccurate at times and the trek to glacier meadow was much more difficult then I anticipated! The only negative part of trail is so many aggressive flies! Bring sunscreen for sunny days, it can be intense! Bring a water filter that is scrub cleanable!!! I made this mistake and was very grateful my friend had the hand pumping MSR.. you cannot use most filter systems in the river water (due to glacier topography- it will clog and break it!) - fresh water streams felt harder to find. I spent 4 days on the trail and loved every moment. A few miles past lewis meadow elevation climbs and past elk lake it gets harder. You need permits for all days your overnight backpacking and a park pass to enter! Most everyone we passed masked up and gave space on the trail. Felt really safe! I plan to do this trip again! It was a beautiful experience!

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