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BACKPACKING GUIDE: Hike with Olympic Elk to Tom's Creek Campground

Backpack through ancient forests, encounter majestic wildlife and enjoy perfect weather.
Olympic National Park plays host to some incredible things, including the Hoh Rainforest. Known for its long hanging moss and crystal clear waters, it's easy to see why this is a popular destination. Spring is the perfect time of the year to visit, the weather is mild and the park is almost empty. After checking out the Hall of Mosses, you will make your way to the Hoh River Trail for your backpacking adventure. 

This trail has many destinations along the way and can easily be turned into an exciting multi-night trip. However, if you're a beginner, this guide is for you. Tom's Creek campground is only about 2.9 miles in after some mild elevation and lots of mud. We crossed paths with a herd of elk on our way in - it was magical to say the least! 
You begin the trail at the parking lot, head to the Hoh River trail and continue on. You'll eventually come to a sign with markers for various campgrounds and other trails. Continue on. 
From here, you'll have to climb up quite a bit and make your way around muddy spots. You will eventually come to an opening where you can see more of the river while hiking, you can either stick to the trail or look for the hidden detours that bring you closer to the river. 
Eventually, you will pass a mile marker letting you know you've gone .9 miles and have 2 left till Tom's Creek. You will come to a wooden bridge with a waterfall to your left, at that point you're about a half mile from the campground. You've almost made it! You will venture up and over a couple more hills before coming upon a fork in the road with a sign that says "Tom's Creek." Take the fork to the right and continue on. You'll come to a small creek, Tom's Creek presumably, and cross that. From there, you'll see the individual and marked group site that has a bear wire. Pick your spot! We veered to the left and found a great big fallen tree to use as a perch. As the sun sets over the moss, it's pure magic. 
Make sure you have your wilderness permit and a good container to string up your food in. Using the bear wire is IMPERATIVE! After you've set up camp, go explore. You can easily access the river if you continue on the trail past the group site. You'll see others have camped over here, too. The park's website suggests these are actually pretty good spots to set up camp, but to otherwise stick to the designated sites. We watched another herd of elk cross the river during sunset, you should too. 


  1. Backpacking gear
  2. Water filter
  3. Camera
  4. Bug Spray
  5. Bear container/bear wire capable bag
  6. Wilderness permit
If you find yourself looking for the adventure of a lifetime, this is it. We can't wait to go back and do a multi-night trip. What's great about this trip is we weren't even expecting it. Our original plan was to hike to Olympic Hot Springs further north, but the ranger let us know it had been washed away. He then told us, "If I could pick where to backpack, it'd be right here. This is the best time of the year." And it totally was. We were alone nearly the entire time, graced with wildlife, waterfalls and perfect weather. 


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