Route: Trailhead To Blue Glacier (Round Trip)
Distance: 36.2 Miles
Longest Day: 14.8 Miles
Campsites: Lewis Meadows, Martin Creek
Ever since my Dad and I went up the Hoh River Trail in 2011 we have wanted to go back. My brother has spent the last four years in Japan for work and has been home visiting for the last couple of weeks, He wanted to do a backpacking trip with us.
We debated between heading into the Enchanted Valley or, if the conditions allowed, doing a trip up the Hoh River Trail to the Blue Glacier. Everything seemed to fall into place when the ladder that the park installs during the non-winter months to assist hikers down a large avalanche chute was installed for the season a few days before our trip was due to begin. With the ladder in place and decent enough weather forecasted we decided that the Hoh River Trail trip was a go.
We piled into the car and drove the 3 hours to the Hoh Visitor Center and got our permits.
The plan was to hike 10.8 miles the first day to Lewis Meadows and we left the trailhead around 12:30 PM. The weather was perfect, around 70 degrees and sunny. The birds were chirping, the rain forest was green as always and the river was running fast and cold. It was a great day for a hike and we made decent time as we headed up the trail. We took breaks at 5 Mile Island and the Olympus Guard Station and rolled into Lewis Meadows around 6:00 PM.
The next morning we woke up and packed up camp. The plan for the day was to pack with full gear up to Martin Creek and then setup camp. After a short break we would day hike up to the Blue Glacier and then back down to Martin Creek to camp for the night. A 40% chance of rain was in the forecast so we got an early start with hopes that we could get to the top before the rain came. In the Olympics, and especially in the Hoh Rainforest, a 40% chance or rain means it will rain 99.60% of the time.
As were were leaving Lewis Meadows a small group of deer greeted us. One of the little guys was having some fun and pranced around in the tall grass.
The trail past Lewis Meadows is mostly flat until mile 12.4. From there until mile 18.1 at the Blue Glacier there are not many flat places left on the trail.
The trail climbs up a small ridge and then reaches a large bridge with the Hoh River far below moving through a canyon. We stopped here for some pictures and then continued up the hill until we reached Martin Creek.
The last time Dad and I hiked this section we were hiking from the Visitor Center to Martin Creek in one day and I called the hill past mile 12.4 the ‘Hill Of Death’. On fresh legs it was not as bad as I remembered it.
After setting up camp we headed up the trail towards Glacier Meadows and the Blue Glacier. The trail was in good shape and we kept climbing until we got to the big avalanche chute.
We navigated through the avalanche chute and down the ladder and then made our way the last .3 miles to Glacier Meadows.
We continued up the trail into the Glacier Meadows. I was shocked with how little snow was still in Glacier Meadows. The Olympic National Park website said there was 3 to 4 feet so we expected a lot, but when we got there it was mostly melted out.
There was still some snow travel near the top, but way less than what we had to do 3 years ago when we hiked this same route. We pushed our way up and made it to the Blue Glacier lateral moraine.
Clouds floated over the mountain, but the weather was calm for about an hour while we ate lunch. We had the mountain and the glacier to ourselves. We sat there eating and listened to the glacier cracking as it moved along slowly.
About an hour after arriving the weather took a turn for the worse and strong winds and rains hit. We took this as a sign it was time to leave. We got on our warmer clothes and rain gear and hiked back down the trail to camp.
The rain that was in the forecast had finally arrived and it rained hard until about 12:30 in the morning.
We built a fire when we got back to camp and ate dinner.
The next morning we woke up and hiked the full 14.8 miles back to the trailhead.
The rain was gone and it stayed cool. My legs were finally feeling the last few days of hiking and I was suffering a bit from some blisters on my feet (new boots, yikes) so the hiking was slower than when we hiked in. I pushed on though and we made it out around 2:30 PM.
It was a great hike and even better to be able to hike it with family.