• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

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  • Madison Falls Trail Closed for Repairs Beginning July 7

    The one-tenth mile Madison Falls Trail and trailhead parking lot located in Elwha Valley will close to public entry beginning on Monday, July 7 while crews make improvements and repairs.

Coastal Forest

Dense shrubs and trees crowd a boardwalk trail with steps

The boardwalk to Sandpoint traverses dense coastal forest.

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
Short beach access trails and the Coastal Forest Nature Trail near Kalaloch are good spots. Look for the odd spruce burls at the Beach 1 trail south of Kalaloch. Rialto Beach has a picnic area in coastal forest. For longer trails, Third Beach or the trails from Ozette to the coast are also options.

Common Tree Species
Sitka spruce - Picea sitchensis
Western hemlock - Tsuga heterophylla
Western redcedar - Thuja plicata
Red alder - Alnus rubra

Common Shrubs
Salal - Gaultheria shallon
Evergreen huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum
Salmonberry - Rubus spectabilis
Black Twinberry - Lonicera involucrata

Common Understory Species
Deer fern - Blechnum spicant
Beadruby - Maianthemum dilatatum
Sword fern - Polystichum munitum
Yellow skunk cabbage - Lysichiton americanum

 
Trees in foreground, then low wind-sheared shrubs with beach logs, beach and small islands beyond
Coastal forest gives way to drift logs and the Pacific Ocean at Ruby Beach, with Abbey Island beyond.

Did You Know?

Mossy trees in the Hoh Rainforest

...that one criterion for the determination of a temperate rain forest is that the amount of moss and other epiphytes exceeds the weight of all the foliage (leaves and needles) per acre by at least two times.