Last fall I needed to get away. Some nature. Some reprieve from technology. A moment to breathe deep and stand in awe. But, where to go? I didn’t want to fly. I didn’t want an overnight. That limited my travel radius, but it also opened the door to find something practically in my back door
Truly, a “forest of giants”. Nestled in the Olympic National Park just a few hours from my home there are monstrous beauties, and I was eager to see them up close and in person.
I wove out Highway 101, through Aberdeen and towards the coast. Rain fell, naturally, and I stopped at Dutch Bros for a Kicker (the best coffee!) warm up. Then, on to the giants.
As the roads twist and turn it is apparent that you’re in a rainforest - the Quinault Rainforest. The Olympic Peninsula is actually home to four temperate rainforests - the Hoh, one of the most popular, Quinault, where I was headed, as well as the Queets Rainforest and the Bogchiel Rainforest. Within these wet wonders, some of the largest trees in the world reside. Believed to be over 1,000 years old, they are a natural Washington monument. A must see.
The Lake Quinault area hosts six of the eight giant trees you’ll encounter throughout the Olympic National Park. Take a peek at their awe-inspiring stats, don your rain boots, and plan a day-venture to see them for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
Largest Western Red Cedar
- Height: 174 feet tall
- Diameter: 19.5 feet across
- Location: Take the trail across from Lake Quinault Resort on North Shore Road.
Claim to Fame: You can stand inside the hollowed trunk of this Western Red Cedar which also holds the title of Washington’s largest tree as well as the largest Western Red Cedar in the world.
Largest Sitka Spruce
- Height: 191 feet tall
- Diameter: 17.68 feet across
- Location: From the Rain Forest Resort Village on South Shore Road take a 5 minute walk to this beauty.
Claim to Fame: This Sitka Spruce is the third largest tree in Washington and the largest Sitka Spruce in the world.
Largest Douglas Fir
- Height: 302 feet tall
- Diameter: 13 feet across
- Location: The winner grows in the Quinault Natural Research area and its “friends” can be found along the Quinault Loop Trails.
Claim to Fame: Technically off trail, so you won’t have the chance to see this largest Douglas Fir in the world - but there are many comparably sized Douglas Firs are nearby.
Largest Yellow Cedar
- Height: 129 feet tall
- Diameter: Almost 12 feet across
- Location: It is a bit of a hike, 8 miles on the Big Creek Trail, but there is nothing quite like a rainforest hike! Layer up in your waterproof gear and get to it!
Claim to Fame: This tree is the largest Yellow Cedar in the entire United States of America.
Largest Mountain Hemlock
- Height: 152 feet tall
- Diameter: 6 feet across
- Location: Once you’ve conquered the 8 miles to the Yellow Cedar, it’s time to take on the 13 miles to the largest Mountain Hemlock in the US. starting at the Enchanted Valley.
Claim to Fame: This tree is the largest Mountain Hemlock in the US and also the largest by volume of its kind.
Largest Western Hemlock
- Height: 171 feet tall
- Diameter: Almost 9 feet across
- Location: You can see the largest Western Hemlock on the same route as the largest Mountain Hemlock, this one is just one more mile in.
Claim to Fame: This tree is the largest in the US of its kind by volume too!
Interested in a visual of how these trees map out in the Quinault Rainforest? Here is a printable PDF!