Sunday Hikes: The Cannibalistic Trees of Olympic National Park and the Roosevelt Elk who live among them.

The Hall of Mosses Trail near the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at Olympic National Park is as remote a location as you may find in the lower 48 states.  To get to the entrance of the Hoh Rain Forest, you have to drive around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington to come in from the west.   It is about a 3 hr and 45 minute drive from Tacoma.   Having said that, the unusually sunny day when I was there in August was well attended by hikers and adventure lovers.   The Hall of Mosses Trail is only .8 miles and is loop that begins and ends at the Visitor Center.   Despite the short length of the trail, the impressive old growth Sitka spruces and bigleaf maples in the temperate rain forest make this trail worth the time it takes to get here.   One of the most interesting things about this trail is that most of old growth trees are nurse trees.   What that means is that after one of the massive trees falls and dies, new tree seedlings germinate and sprout growing out of the fallen log.   These seedlings use the log for nutrients and grow up on the log.   Over centuries the growing tree roots will eventually anchor into the ground and the log beneath will decay and rot away.   This will leave the new tree growing up on stilts of roots giving it an unusual appearance.

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The Hoh Rain Forest is also a well known location to see Roosevelt Elk.  Roosevelt Elk are the largest subspecies of Elk in North America.  While driving down the tree lined road to the Hoh Rain Forest, I saw in a streambed a small herd of females and a giant bull elk who lorded over his harem.   Several smaller males were circling nearby but afraid to approach.   While hiking the Hall of Mosses Trail I saw another bull elk eating water plants in a wetlands area and then when almost back to the visitor center yet another bull elk came right down the trail towards me.   Even though I was backing up, it eventually got within 10 feet of me.  It paid me no attention and after a few minutes I was able to pass and get back to the parking lot area.

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When visiting Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rain Forest area is well worth the time spent to come visit.   There are several other longer trails in the area to hike and you are almost certain to see Roosevelt Elk up close.  I hope you get a chance to come visit soon.

rk

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