Photo Spot 16: Olympic National Park – Quinault Rainforest
Protecting most of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park comprises three regions: the Olympic Mountains, Pacific coastline, and temperate rain forest. Located in an area notorious for its wet weather, situated near the coast, and near high mountains, the western forests of Olympic National Park receive receive annual precipitation of about 150 inches, making them the wettest spot in the continental United States. Saturated with rains, everything is covered with living plants, making those forests luxuriant and primeval.
The two main rain forests are Hoh and Quinault. Of the two, Quinault is the quietest, maybe because it is further from Port Angeles, the gateway to the Park for most visitors. Hoh has more mosses, however the undergrowth at Quinault is more rich, and there are more streams and cascades.
To explore the rain forest, hike the fairly short Maple Glade, Cascading Terraces, and Irely Lake trails. An interesting sight in the area is the Big Cedar, reached through a very short trail 2.0 miles up the North Shore Road from hwy 101. A little known fact, Quinault features the largest trees in the world outside of California. For waterfalls, you can start on a trail at the Graves Creek Campground and hike towards the Enchanted Valley and turn back when you run out of time. One day I’ll have to return to all the 13 miles, leading to a valley that I’ve been told is one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see.
Heavy rains drench the forest in the winter and early spring. In late spring, the vegetation is at its lushest, and frequent cloudy days make it easier to photograph in the forest.