Do you love the pitter-patter of rain on the window? Then you’ll love these rainy hiking spots.
As pretty much anyone who’s ever gone hiking will attest, rain happens. Even when the forecast calls for a day of sun, Mother Nature doesn’t feel obligated to follow suit—which is why a solid rain shell is a must-pack for any outdoor outing.
But there’s rain…and then there’s torrents of rain, something most fair weather hikers look to avoid. But for the hearty among us, braving the conditions—pelting rain, swollen creeks and rivers, trails transformed into sloggy, boggy messes—also delivers a more singular, less crowded experience, one marked by surging waterfalls, explosions of color against the gray horizon, and the kind of “type two”-level fun (read: it was fun…mostly when it was over) that makes the hardcore hiker feel alive.
Here’s a round-up of the top 5 rainiest hiking destinations in the U.S.:
1. Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park
One of the wettest places in the Lower 48, Olympic receives between 140 and 170 inches of rain each year, which floods and feeds dense rainforests replete with lush coniferous and deciduous tree canopies, as well as expansive carpets of moss and fern, and mad, rushing rivers, and waterfalls.
One of the wettest places in the Lower 48, Olympic receives between 140 and 170 inches of rain each year.
The Hoh region lies in the western stretch of the park, and remains one of the most vivid examples of a U.S. temperate rainforest. Bed down at the year-round campground, and take your pick of trails, from the modest 0.8-mile Hall of Mosses or the 1.2-mile Spruce Nature Trail loop to an 18-mile push on the Hoh River Trail to Blue Glacier, along with a requisite stop at Mineral Creek Falls.
2. Mount Waialeale, Kauai
This verdant island in the Hawaiian archipelago ranks as one of the wettest places in the world, and Mount Waialeale might be the best place to verify this fact. Sitting near the center of Kauai, the mountain’s Weeping Wall is composed of a series of waterfalls that carve down the different grooves of the steep alpine face.
Mount Waialeale ranks as one of the wettest places in the world.
Helicopter tours offer you easy access, but experienced hikers should consider the three-mile route that leads to the Blue Hole, a canyon at the base of the Weeping Wall. A guide—or a solid 4×4 vehicle rental—make reaching the trailhead after a four-mile off-road traverse easier.
3. Redwoods National Park
This land of the giants—redwoods that have been measured to be more than 300 feet tall—endures a rainy season from Oct-April, dumping anywhere from 60 to 80 inches of moisture. Visit during this time, and wetness is a promise, but the park gets plenty of moisture year-round. But even if it just stopped raining, the trees and dense foliage surrounding the trails mean you’ll still get wet as the water makes its patient way to the soil, wetting all surrounding foliage.
The larger Redwoods region is split between national- and state-protected public lands, but get a serious sample, overnight on the Redwood Creek Trail, a 16-mile route and the only place in the national park that allows backcountry camping.
4. Dolly Sods Wilderness
This stretch of wilderness about two hours from the nation’s capital flies under the radar when measured against other public lands in the region—and visitors like it that way. This 17,776-acre, high-altitude plateau within West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest boasts a dense collection of different topographies—granite shoulders typical to New England’s Presidential range, prairie fields, pockets of forest, heath barrens, and sphagnum bogs.
Dolly Sods wilderness about two hours from the nation’s capital flies under the radar when measured against other public lands in the region—and visitors like it that way.
Drop into its valley and you can wander alongside trails that flank the parkland’s many rivers, and then hike up to the ridgelines to dry out. But to truly appreciate Dolly Sods’ affection for moisture, hit the 4.3-mile Dobbin Grade Trail; on average at least two miles will be all muck, mud, and madness.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The most-visited national park in the country, Great Smoky Mountains typically sees 55 inches in the valley and up to 85 inches of rain annually on the mountains and ranks as one of the wetter spots on the southern East Coast. In fact, moisture is largely responsible for the park’s name; water vapor is released from the area’s vegetation, where its molecules becoming the scattered blue light that the Cherokee called “blue smoke.”
To sample the best of the high-elevation parks of the park, summit Mount LeConte via the Alum Cave Trail, an 11-mile route that checks off all the park’s quintessential elements: history, high adventure, and stunning views. And, more likely than not, a few rain showers.