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Hoh River Traverse


  •   Guides Choice backpacking trip
  •   Old-growth rainforest & alpine glaciers
  •   Rare overlook of the Blue Glacier
  •   Cascading waterfalls & glacial rivers
  •   Amazing natural & cultural history
  •   Abundant wildlife habitat


Explore temperate rainforests, alpine lakes, and a dramatic glacier on this 5 day classic Olympics backpacking trip. We’ll start low, winding our way beneath the moss-covered old-growth giants of the Hoh Rainforest, and spend our first night camped along the beautiful Hoh River. The next day we’ll continue deeper into the Olympics, and camp for two nights at beautiful Elk Lake, where elk, black bear, and deer abound. On day three we’ll take daypacks and climb to the base of the Blue Glacier. A steep ladder down an old avalanche chute provides one last major obstacle to negotiate before the final payoff of Glacier Meadows and the Blue Glacier. We’ll spend plenty of time lounging, photographing, and absorbing the dramatic views of Mount Olympus, the deep crevasses of the Blue Glacier, and the low lying rainforest behind us. When we’ve had our fill we’ll return to camp for a hearty dinner at Elk Lake, and get up the next morning to start our return trek.

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Backpacking Trip
Olympia, WA
5 days
36mi / 58km
Season: 6/15-9/15
$1485 Per Person

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Travel to Olympia, WA

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Trip Dates & Booking

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800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  • Shuttle to the trailhead: 3.5 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 770 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 400 feet

This multi-day Olympic National Park hiking trip begins with pick up at your hotel in Olympia and a scenic drive to the trailhead on the Olympic Peninsula. We’ll start our hike with a flat 9-mile trek into our first campground at Olympus Guard Station. Along the way we’ll pass waterfalls, discuss old-growth rainforest ecology, and snap photos of some of the oldest trees in the world.

After camp is set up we'll relax and enjoy a hearty backcountry dinner and take time to appreciate our truly stunning surroundings.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 740 feet

Our second day’s hike will take us from low-lying rainforest to breathtaking views of the higher mountains at Elk Lake. We’ll leave the historic Olympus Guard Station, a national park relic dating from the 1930s, and start climbing through rapidly changing forests. River rapids, high bridges, and turbulent river confluences accompany us along the way, until we make our final ascent up to our high country camp for the night.

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2800 feet

On day three we’ll take daypacks and hike out of the forest and up to the stunning Blue Glacier. Our day hike will require navigating a steep ladder down a former landslide—the most exciting part of the day. We’ll climb up above the glacier itself to look down on it, and see Mount Olympus towering behind it. 1.7 square miles of ice pour off of Mount Olympus, and we’ll discuss the incredible power of glaciers in carving the Olympic Mountain Range. We’ll eat lunch overlooking the glacier, and then return to camp for a relaxing evening and feast of a dinner back at Elk Lake.

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2600 feet

On day four we’ll retrace our steps most of the hike out. With an initial descent and a lot of level ground, we’ll make good time and camp at Five Mile Island, just five miles short of the trailhead. Although we’ll be covering ground we’ve already seen, we'll be seeing it all from the opposite vantage point (hiking downhill vs. uphill) and there is truly no shortage of new wonders to take in on this trip!

Day 5
  • Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 200 feet
  • Shuttle to Olympia: 3 hours

On our last day we’ll enjoy one last hearty breakfast and a relaxing morning. Eventually we'll break camp and hike the last little bit out to the trailhead, say goodbye to the rainforest, and enjoy a relaxing shuttle back to Olympia. We’ll stop again at a beautiful spot on the coast for one last lunch together, and then deliver you back to your lodging in Olympia for some much-deserved showers.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Olympic National Park hiking guide
  • Comprehensive, roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Olympia and back
  • All entrance fees, permits and passes
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($100).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

This trip originates in Olympia, Washington. Your guide will be in contact approximately 10 days before the trip start date to coordinate the pre-trip orientation, which will be at 5:00 PM at the Hotel RL Olympia (we recommend staying here as well - mention you're hiking with us and get a discounted rate as low as $99, 360-943-4000). If you're staying at the Governor Hotel (our other recommended hotel, 20% discount), we're happy to pick you up for the orientation. Your guide will then pick you up at your hotel the next morning for transport to the trailhead.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on Olympic backpacking trips is 6 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park covers a dramatic diversity of terrain from seashores to rainforests to alpine peaks and glaciers. The weather will be largely dependent on which trip you sign up for and which ecosystem you will be hiking in. Read below for average high and low temperatures in different parts of Olympic National Park:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
3.8 in
3.9 in
2.8 in
2.1 in
2.8 in
2.2 in
4.4 in
4.7 in
11 in
8.5 in

Camping on Backpacking Trips

backpacking tent

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

backpacking meals

Backcountry Cuisine

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

backpacking campsites

Amazing Campsites

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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