• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

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  • Work Scheduled for East Beach Road at Lake Crescent Starting July 10

    East Beach Road will be reduced to one-lane of traffic through work zones and delays of up to 15 minutes should be expected. Work will occur weekdays between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. through mid-July, weather permitting.

  • 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 for three weeks beginning on Monday, July 7 while crews make improvements and repairs.

Montane Forests

Forest fire burns dark tree trunks and along ground on a steep slope

Lightning-caused fire burns in a montane Douglas-fir stand in the steep Little River valley of the park.

As you climb from river valleys toward the peaks you enter the montane zone, where new characters enter the forest stage. Montane forest begins at about 1,500­–2,000 feet and­­ transitions into subalpine forests at about 4,000 feet. On the wetter west side of the park, silver fir becomes a major player along side western hemlock. On the drier east side silver fir enters, but only on cooler, north-facing slopes. On sunny, south-facing slopes, Douglas-fir and western hemlock dominate and fire plays an active role in creating a mosaic of different-aged forest.

These forests cover thousands of acres of Olympic National Park’s mountain slopes where growing conditions are more challenging than the lowlands. Montane trees grown more slowly, but many are still centuries old. In fact, a 12-foot wide record Alaska yellow cedar grows in montane forest above the North Fork Quinault River.

Where to See Montane Forest
The Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park roads both traverse montane forest enroute to the mountains. All trails that lead to the high country also cross the montane zone.

 
beams of sunlight penetrate fog on dense forested slope

Sunlight in misty montane forest near Mink Lake, Sol Duc valley.

Common Trees
Alaska yellow-cedar – Chaemaecyparis nootkatensis
Douglas-fir – Pseudotsuga menziesii
Silver fir – Abies amabilis
Western hemlock – Tsuga heterophylla
Western redcedar – Thuja plicata

Common Shrubs
Salal – Gaultheria shallon
Oregon grape – Berberis nervosa
Huckleberries – Vaccinium sp.
Fool’s huckleberry – Menziesia ferruginea
Devil’s club – Oplopanx horridus
Pacific rhododendron – Rhododendron macrophyllum (primarily east side forests)
Bearberry – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Common Wildflowers
Coralroot – Corallorhiza mertensiana
Bunchberry – Cornus unalaschkensis
Bead lily – Clintonia uniflora
Evergreen violet – Viola sempervirens
Goatsbeard – Aruncus dioicus
Pyrola – Pyrola sp.

Did You Know?

DYK fisher release

Fishers (members of the weasel family, related to minks and otters) were reintroduced to Olympic National Park in 2008-10. They are native to the forests of Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, but disappeared due to overtrapping in the late 1800s/early 1900s and habitat loss.