Situated in a subalpine basin, and surrounded by wildflower and huckleberry meadows, Hoh Lake is a secluded wilderness destination where you’re likely to have more company with elk and black bears than you are fellow campers. The lake lies just south of 5,474-foot Bogachiel Peak and the Olympic High Divide. There are two ways to reach Hoh Lake, and both are long and strenuous. The route from the Hoh River trailhead is 14.5 miles, and gains 4,670 feet of elevation. The trail ascends mildly along the Hoh River for the first 9 miles, then it’s a steep, steady climb for the remaining 5.5 miles. The route from the Sol Duc trailhead is 8.9 miles, and gains 4,680 feet. This route makes a steady ascent to the High Divide, then drops over the other side and descends to the lake basin. The latter route affords more views, while the former route often sees more wildlife.
The camp area at Hoh Lake is a mere three campsites on the southwest side. One group site is located about 0.5 mile south of the lake at C.B. Flats. These are primitive tent sites have no amenities, and Leave No Trace practices should be exercised. Water can be obtained from the lake, but must be treated (boiled or filtered). Campfires are not permitted at this location, but contained-fuel camp stoves are allowed. A composting privy is located on the hillside above the camp area, as well as bear wires for hanging food and scented items. If starting in the Sol Duc area, you’re required to carry your food in a park-approved bear canister. Camping in the Olympic National Park backcountry requires a wilderness camping permit. These may be obtained up to 30 days in advance of your trip, or by visiting a Wilderness Information Center up to 1 day before the start of your trip. Permits are $8/person/night.
awesome time hiking and hammocking. Lush Green Everywhere! Woke up surrounded by a herd of Red Elk.
This is the thick rainforest you picture when you think of the PNW. It is a pretty basic campsite, but they do have some ranger programs. No reservations taken. We stayed one night when our backpacking trip took an extra day. After visiting we read about the salmon run in the area and would love to come back to see that sometime!! There are many more campgrounds in the area if this one is full, most are pretty similar from what we’ve experienced.
We did an overnight, clockwise around the High Divide Loop. This campground is a bit over a mile off the loop, and the junction is close to halfway: our first day was 13.5 miles and second 10. Compared to the campsites closer to the trail (the basin, Heart and Deer lakes, etc.), it isn't as close to the main loop but is well situated for a one-nighter, and certainly has the most beautiful lake we encountered.
The campground is on the side of a hill south of the lake and just to the west of the drainage stream. We found three campsites, and then the trail continues up the hill to the composting toilet and past it to the bear wire. We chose the lowest of the campsites (labeled site 3) which also appeared to be the largest, with two tent areas, and put a 2P tent on one and 2P and 1P tents on there other: there wasn't much room for any more tents. The ground was a little sloped and very hard: I left my tent mostly unstaked. There was a convenient trail off to the side of this site leading into the woods for when nature calls.
A main attraction of this campground is the bear wire, which allows you to hang whatever bags you want, avoiding the use of bulky and heavy bear canisters, or even having to bring rope and try to figure out a hang situation of your own. The wire consists of two pulleys hanging from trees, each having two large hooks. Hook up your bag, hoist them up, and then clip the pulley to an anchored ring to keep it from falling. Easy to use and very convenient. The campground also has an composting toilet which has an amazing view of Mt. Olympus from its perch on top of the hill. It also offers zero privacy, being unenclosed and right along the trail to the bear wire and facing down towards the campsites.
The lake is a short walk away and is stunning. In late July, it was the perfect refreshing temperature for a swim after a long hike, and is pretty large. Two of my friends decided to swim around the entire lake before spotting black bears on the far side and coming back. Fortunately this was the closest we saw them getting.
On the other hand, there is a pair of goats, an adult and a kid, who made it clear this is their campground. They walked around the entire grounds using the trails and paying no heed to any humans in the area: we had to jump off the trail for them to rush past us at one point. In the morning, they woke me up at 5:30 when they trampled through our tent area, fortunately ignoring any of our stuff. We mentioned these to a ranger we passed on the next day and she said she was off to Sol Duc Park to help with a goat problem there, so this is not unique to this site.
The mosquitos were fairly bad this time of year (late July), we were swarmed during the evening while cooking, but they died down later at night. We chose to eat breakfast up on the High Divide rather than deal with them again in the morning.