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Better option for solitude!

Happy Four is an under-utilized campground in the backcountry of the Hoh River Trail. It's confusingly more like 6 miles from the trailhead, past the wildly popular 5-mile Island campground.  This is a good option for people who make it to the trailhead by early afternoon and can rack up the miles along the flat Hoh River trail. It's far enough in the backcountry that you aren't competing with day hikers for trail space. 

I couldn't find the privy here but they are mapped to exist, the bear wires are somewhat hard to find because there's no sign pointing you there and there's so many trails crisscrossing the campground. The trail is a little hard to find from the main Hoh River Trail but if you see the shelter you know you're close!

The campground is far enough off the trailhead that you won't get much trail noise and there's enough vegetation between sites that you won't necessarily see your neighbor. It's still close enough to the trailhead that you won't be by yourself but most people tend to stop at 5-Mile Island so things are a little quieter here.

Solitude and views for days!

Are you looking for total solitude and hearing elk bugling in the morning as your alarm? Can you really rack up the miles if you have the time? Then Lewis Meadows is a great spot. Nearly 12 miles from the Hoh River trailhead getting here in one day is a journey but totally worth it, especially in the busy summer months where other campground along the Hoh River are full of people. Many stop at Olympus Guard Station so pushing a little further along the trail means you are essentially alone!

This campground might have the nicest group spot, shaded under a massive tree with space for 4-5 tents and a fire ring. The meadow has a few spaces including the stock camp as well as the open-air privy and the bear wires. I opted to go through the woods and camp on the eroding back next to the massive gravel bar on the river. 

This is a great option if Olympus Guard station looks too busy. Backtracking a bit means you can head up over the ridge to Seven Lakes Basin or pushing further up the Hoh River trail leads you to the amazing High Hoh Bridge and up to Blue Glacier (it's an all-day hike). But just being this far out in the backcountry is good enough for most!

Crowded in the summer, party island!

This spot (appropriately 5 miles from the Hoh River trailhead) is a great choice for a day hike or an overnight spot if you have enough time to make it this far into the backcountry before nighfall (if not try Mt. Tom Creek). With that being said this place gets really crowded with overnight campers during the summer so if your idea of solitude is hearing elk bugling in the morning you're better off pushing on. If you have a big group and don't mind seeing your neighbors this spot may be a good bet for you!

Located directly on the river with at least one privy (which probably gets utilized a lot) and directly off the trailhead this campground is just past the point that most day hikers turn around, so you won't have too much trail noise. There's a number of spots both on the side of the river and more than likely across the river on the island itself (although don't cross unless you know what you're doing). All the spots I noticed had fire rings and some had make-shift seats. Like all the spots long the Hoh River Trail there are bear wires here so no bear cans necessary although when I was there reports had come in of a curoius coyote who was stealing food/bags/clothes from the camping area!

Overall you're still going to get an outdoor experience here at 5-mile island, it's just how much solitude you want that will dictate if this is the right campground for you. In my opinion, if you have time pushing for Olympus Guard Station is a better option or stopping at Mt. Tom Creek.

Great easy backcountry spot!

As easy as it is to get to this campground along the Hoh River Trail there are surprisingly few people here, most opt to go a little further up the trail to Five Mile Island or even further to Olympus Guard Station. With that being said the trail is still incredibly crowded this far up with day hikers/large groups/birdwatchers/instagrammers so if you are looking for total solitude you are better off pushing further. With that being said once the day hikers leave there are few people that opt to stay here overnight. 

Set only about 2 miles from the trailhead at the Hoh Visitor Center Mt. Tom Creek has about 6-8 sites scattered across the creek and river, meaning you're always close to a water source. There's a large group site that can probably fit 6-7 tents for big groups (reserve at the WIC in Port Angeles or the Hoh Visitor Center). Make sure you have your permit ready as a ranger may be likely to come by and check on you here. Like all spots along the Hoh River trail there are bear wires here so no need to bring a bear canister!

As this campground is really close to the trail it's pretty easy to get in and out although it makes for a constant human presence. The sites are set far enough apart that you may not see your neighbor (although you may hear them). Mineral Falls is a nice spot to walk up to (only a half-mile back) and the spots along the river make a great place to stop and have a snack!

Solitude with new facilities!

For 2019 The National Park Service upgraded the Olympus Guard Station campsites, mainly in the form of new privys! It's still just as amazing backcountry campground nearly 10 miles into the backcountry of Olympic National Park with tons of spots to choose from and enough space that even in the busy summer months you feel more solitude than in other spots along the Hoh River Trail. 

This is by far the nicest of all backcountry campsites along the Hoh River trail and quite possibly in the entire west side of the interior of the park. Two larger group spots are reservable at either the WIC in Port Angeles or at the Hoh Visitor Center if you're feeling lucky. There are numerous other spots tucked away from the trail in the forest and out on a gravel bar next to the Hoh River. Obviously water is not an issue but bring a filter as even this far in the backcountry its best to filter/boil your water. There are bear wires at the campground (as with all campsites on the Hoh River Trail) so no bear can necessary unless you want your food a little closer to your campsite.

This place gets pretty crowded in the summer but is not as bad as places like 5 mile Island, it's worth the extra effort to make it back here, even if it's just for the night. Good base camp for a day hike up to either Blue Glacier or over the Ridge into Seven Lakes Basin. The trail is fairly flat the entire way and barring any major washouts is pretty easy going. There's usually a summer guard at the station as well if you need any assistance.

Great Spot!

Awesome little campground. Trails to walk & amazing customer service!!! Would love to return in the summer!

American Lake Camp Ground (JBLM)

Good little camp ground on post with almost everything you need. It is in the wilderness, on the lake, but it is also fairly close to stores and gas stations. Long term max is 28 days per spot. All hookups available trash laundry showers bathrooms fire pits as well as grills all in each spot

Ranger Review: Banner & Oak At Heart O’ The Hills Campground

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Once entering one of the most iconic areas of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge, you are are welcomed with open arms to the Heart O’ The Hills Campground, a beautiful primitive camp nestled only a few short miles from the ridge itself. 

The first taste of Olympic from this direction, the campground is the perfect retreat for a day or even a week for those wanting to explore the many trails and features within a short driving distance of the northern entrance. 

I had the privilege of visiting this location on my lengthy trip to the Pacific Northwest and as a Ranger For the Dyrt was given the unique opportunity to share not only my experience but also a special product by Banner and Oak which made my adventures within the park even better. 

Campground Review: 

Heart O’ The Hills is a quiet location just south of the Port Angeles area and a few miles within the entrance gate. There are no reservations available for this unique campground so early arrival is suggested on weekends, especially during peak season. 

I visited on a weekday in late fall and noticed there were numerous spots available to choose from. Empty sites are easily located by visiting the pay kiosk near the main restrooms of camp, here there is a paper slip system of making occupied spaces, very similar to that of the ones they use by the National Seashores. 

Pricing for this camp is very reasonable at only$20 per night, or for those with the Senior Interagency Pass only $10. Unlike many kiosks which accept only cash you can make payment at this location by check as well which allows you an additional option. However keep in mind there are no credit card payments accepted!! 

When I explored the camp I noticed two main styles of camping were available, smaller sites which catered to single vehicles and tent campers and larger sites which could easily accommodate larger rigs or double occupancy car groups. While there is a limit of 8 people per site, these larger sites would not feel crowded with 8-12 people in most instances. 

Sites are equipped with standard amenities of picnic tables and fire rings. Throughout camp there are bear boxes with shared access for many sites. Additionally, I found that while this is considered to be a primitive campground there are water spigots located every few sites for shared usage. There is no electrical hook ups and at the time of my visit the restrooms were closed temporarily, with port-a-pottys instead located at this area. 

Unfortunately by the closure of the restrooms I was unable to determine if there were electrical outlets or even showers at the this campground which did weigh heavily on my mind when staying here. I really wish I would have known, because those two features could take the stay from a great one to an extraordinary stay.

 Just beyond the C loop of camp the Heart O’ The Hills Forest Trail can be found. The first of many trails you will want to explore at the park, this trail allows you a glimpse at the beautiful forest around you. Though this trail is nor ADA for those able to walk on slightly uneven ground this trail is one you will not want to miss. 

Taking a walk down this trail it was so peaceful and I easily could have lost track of time just discovering the larger than life mushrooms, the massive ferns and the trickling streams around me, a far different setting than my native Texas home. 


  • Firewood is available at this location only seasonably. Should you arrive at camp and wood not be available you can return to the community of Port Angeles and pick some up for a reasonable price point. 
  • If you are going to be staying in this area and are not prepared for bear country, stop at the visitor’s stop when you come into the park and ask about their bear cans. 
  • In an effort to conserve paper, the park is working toward going paperless when it comes to maps, if you happen to be visiting this area download the online maps to your smart phone before visiting or take a photo when stopping at one of the visitor centers.

Product Review: 

As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I am often given the unique opportunity to try products in the field which might add value to the camping and exploring experience as a whole. I was very fortunate to be able to evaluate some of the many items from the Banner& Oak Company along this adventure. 

For this adventure I took the Pike solid back panel construction hat for a trip around the campground. I personally love hats and find them to be a travel must for men and women for a variety of reasons. On cool days they allow you to keep your body heat from escaping through your head, which is the area of our bodies which allows the most to escape. On a sunny day, a hat can keep you from getting to much glare or help with sunburn on your sensitive scalp region. A hat is a must for all travel. 

The Pike is a hat which was named from the infamous Pike’s Peak in Colorado. It’s sturdy construction allows for comfort and coverage while allowing adjustability through a snapback. 

On a more personal level, I found the hat to have great overall feel to it. The material used was perfect for the slight chill in the air and being able to secure the hat through adjustments came in handy as I moved from the calm of camp to the winds of the Hurricane Ridge. The olive color fit my personal style well, and while they do have other color options in the Pink including charcoal and maroon, the green tone feels very outdoorsy. 


  • Do not be afraid to shop both the mens and women’s sections for different designs. When doing so make sure you check the sizing but keep in mind some styles might suit your style more from your not standard shopping section. 
  • Hats are one of the more essential travel items so finding a hat which is comfortable in all situations is important. I suggest solid back panels for cooler months and vented or mesh backs for summer.