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The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is an oasis for outdoor lovers who seek adventure. You could spend years of your life exploring the vast lands of these coastal states and still find a new “hidden gem” every day. Expect to encounter grand mountains, ancient volcanoes, hidden beaches, old-growth forests, exuberant waterfalls, and many more natural wonders in this stunning side of America.
One of the more popular PNW locations is the iconic Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. Over 900,000 acres of the park stretch across multiple different ecosystems, including four temperate rainforests. They were once part of a huge Pacific Northwest rainforest that spanned from southern Oregon all the way to southeastern Alaska. Now, because of development, not many rainforests exist along the coast. Within these four rainforests, you’ll discover thousand-year-old trees covered in dense vibrant green moss and trails surrounded by massively beautiful ferns. Twelve to fourteen feet of rain per year allow this park to thrive with incredible glowing greens producing fresh, invigorating air. Here’s a short guide to hiking the four glorious rainforests of Olympic National Park.
The Hoh Rainforest is undoubtedly the most well-known. Pictures of bright moss-covered trees and fern-filled grounds are all over the Internet and even within pages of National Geographic Magazine. Primitive Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock stand guard within this rainforest. Many miles of trails weave through the park, so the best way to explore is on foot.
Location: Hoh Rainforest is located on the west side of Olympic National Park and is a two-hour drive from Port Angeles or a one-hour drive from Forks, WA. The Visitor Center can be accessed by the Upper Hoh Road, off of Highway 101.
The Bogachiel Rainforest is characterized by endless hanging moss, towering maples, and muddy trails. This lush, verdant wonderland located near Forks, WA, provides visitors with plenty of trails for hiking, a variety of options for camping, and ample space on the Bogachiel River to catch some trout. The most popular hikes along the river are the Rainforest River Trail and Ira Spring Wetland Trail, both a part of the 1,200 mile Pacific Northwest Trail.
Location: You can access the Bogachiel Rainforest by starting in Forks and traveling south on US Highway 101 for 5 miles, then turn east on Undi Road and follow for approximately two miles to the Undi Road Bypass. Turn left on Forest Road 2932.
Located in the southwestern area of the park, the Quinault Rainforest is your gateway to incredible waterfalls, staggering mountainous views, enchanted trails, alpine lakes, cozy lodges, and the world’s largest Sitka spruce tree.
Location: From Aberdeen, WA travel north on US Highway 101 for 45 miles to the junction of South Shore Road. Turn right (east) and drive 1.4 miles to Quinault Rainforest.
The Queets Rainforest, located in the southwest area of Olympic National Park, is one of the least visited rainforests. This area is remote and rugged, making it rather appealing to those who wish to enjoy some solitude in a gorgeous rainforest. Exploring Queets Rainforest will show you exactly how wild this national park really is.
Location: From the city of Queets take US-101 S for 14 miles and then left onto W Boundary Rd for 1.6 miles. Take a slight right onto BIA Rd 9200 and continue straight for 6.4 miles. Follow signs for Queets River Trail.
As you might guess, the rainforest is going to be wet! So, be prepared with proper outdoor gear when planning your hike. Packing extra layers is key for your adventures, as the weather usually changes without notice. It’s best to stick with materials such as wool or nylon. Try to avoid wearing cotton, it will make you cold when wet and takes longer to dry. Here’s a list of a few items that will make your trip much more comfortable.
Exploring the rainforests of Olympic National Park is like taking a step back into the past. Hiking through even one is a dream come true for many people around the world who wish to explore these magical landscapes. Now that you have a general idea of what these four rainforests have to offer, it’s time to strap on your hiking boots and go exploring!
Sun is shining through the trees of Hoh Rain Forest. Featured image by: khomlyak.
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