Mild temperatures and abundant rain can nourish a dense tangle of forest along Olympic's coast. Head high shrubs crowd under a canopy of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western redcedar. Ferns and mosses form a spongy carpet below. In a few areas the forest gives way to wet coastal prairies with acid-loving bog plants like wild cranberry, crowberry, bog laurel, Labrador-tea, sundew and sphagnum.
On the beach, the dense forest yields to the ocean. Blasting by prevailing westerly winds and sand often leave these sentinels flagged, with branches on just the protected leeward side. Look for eagles perched on the battered treetops. Jumbled drift logs lining the beach come from forests up river where meandering waters and floods undermine the forest, then deliver fallen trees to the ocean.
Where To See Coastal Forest
Common Tree Species
Common Understory Species