Olympic National Forest
1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW
Olympia, WA 98512-5623
Olympic National Forest is synonymous with the Olympic Peninsula. The Peninsula is surrounded on three sides by saltwater. U.S. Highway 101 is the main travel route paralleling the Pacific Coast on the west, Strait of Juan de Fuca on the north, and inland waters of Puget Sound on the east. This 6,500-square-mile (16,835 sq. km.) area is an association of complex, winding ridges, rugged and precipitous mountains, deep canyons and tree-covered slopes.
A multitude of recreational opportunities exist year round on Olympic National Forest. The Forest receives over 1.2 million visitor days annually. Auto touring, camping, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and hiking are popular spring and summer activities. The general fishing season extends April through October. Hunting, berry picking, and Christmas tree cutting are enjoyed during the fall and winter months. Among the special environments are Seal Rock Beach and the lush Quinault Valley.
The Forest has nineteen developed campgrounds, five boating sites, four nature trails and one viewpoint. There are 201 miles (323 km.) of trails, several providing access to Olympic National Park. Five wildernesses on the Forest totaling 88,481 acres provide solitude and scenic beauty where the only access is by foot or horseback. The wildernesses are Colonel Bob Wilderness, The Brothers Wilderness, Buckhorn Wilderness, Mt. Skokomish Wilderness, and Wonder Mountain Wilderness.
For more campground information please see Fred Dow's U.S. National Forest Campground Guide
The Olympic Peninsula has an incredible variety of environments within short distances. Within less than fifty miles between Mt. Olympus and the Pacific Ocean, the vegetation changes from the lush, temperate rain forests of the Hoh, Queets, and Quinault Valleys to an arctic environment of lichens and mosses above 7,000 feet. Heaviest precipitation occurs in the fall, reaching a peak in December and then decreasing in spring. The driest area on the Forest is the lowlands within the northeastern corner of the Quilcene District which receives an annual precipitation of 25 inches. The greatest annual rainfall occurs on the southern portion of the Quinault District. Precipitation ranges from 120 inches in the lowest elevation areas to 220 inches in the high, northern ridges. Winter snowfall on the Peninsula ranges from 10 inches in the lower valleys to greater than 250 inches in the higher mountains. Summers are relatively dry, with warmer temperatures averaging near 75 degrees F.
Numerous species of trees, shrubs and flowers are found in the six vegetation zones of the Peninsula. More than one-hundred species of wildflowers grow on the Forest. Nine species of Olympic flowering plants are endemic to the Peninsula, found growing only in the rocky crevices and talus slopes of the Subapline Meadow and Alpine zones.
The Federal Government is the largest landholder and manages the core of the Peninsula. Olympic National Forest is 632,324 acres in size and surrounds most of Olympic National Park. Olympic National Park has over 901,800 acres. The forest also neighbors of State of Washington Department of Natural Resources lands, several Indian nation tribal reservation areas and a variety of private land ownerships.
The Peninsula's Roosevelt elk population is the largest of its kind anywhere. It is estimated that there are between five and seven thousand elk in the Olympic herds. Often weighing more than 600 pounds (299 kg.), they are a major hunting and tourist attraction. Other game animals hunted on the Peninsula are the Columbian black-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain goat, black bear, mountain cottontail rabbit, snowshoe hare and bullfrog. Cougars exist on the Quinault and Hood Canal Districts and find protection in the remote, rugged terrain. Common nongame animals found on the Peninsula include coyote, mountain beaver, Olympic marmot, raccoon and skunk.
There are over 200 species of birds common to the Olympic Peninsula including ruffed grouse, flicker, crow, cliff swallow, winter wren and water ouzel. Both golden and bald eagles are frequently seen, however, few nests have been located.
Olympic National Forest began as a Forest Reserve in February 1897. President Cleveland signed the proclamation which withdrew from entry 1,500,000 acres of public land on the Olympic Peninsula. Between 1897 and 1909, land had been both added and eliminated from the Reserve by proclamation on three separate occasions. In 1905, the name Olympic Forest Reserve was changed to Olympic National Forest. The center of the Olympic National Forest was proclaimed Mount Olympus National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. The Monument was transferred from the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, to the Park Service, Department of Interior in 1933 and became Olympic National Park in 1938. Since 1909, there have been a total of 12 land transferals from the Forest to the Park. Explorers made contact with the coastal region more than three centuries before the interior was investigated. The Press Expedition explored the mountainous core in the 1890's. After early explorations, the inland Peninsula saw little development. Almost all settlement on the Olympic Peninsula is along the saltwater. The shoreline towns of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Port Angeles, Shelton and Port Townsend have a major portion of the Peninsula's population.
Approximately 325,700 acres of Olympic National Forest is suitable for producing timber. Annually, timber harvesting occurs on approximately 3,200 acres of land. The Olympic ranks nineteenth in the Pacific Northwest Region (Washington and Oregon) of the Forest Service in annual allowable cut. The major wood-producing trees are Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western red cedar and Pacific silver fir.
District Ranger Stations
Order trail passes or get current updates at the Olympic National Forest site.
Hood Canal Ranger District
150 N. Lake Cushman Road
P.O. Box 68
Hoodport, WA 98548
Quilcene Ranger District
20482 Hwy. 101 S.
P.O. Box 280
Quilcene, WA 98376
Quinault Ranger District
353 South Shore Road
P.O. Box 9
Quinault, WA 98575
Soleduck Ranger District
R.R. 1, Box 5750
Forks, WA 98331