Top 6 most beautiful national forests in Washington State, USA

The most beautiful forests to visit in Washington state

Washington isn’t called the Evergreen State for nothing – the state is filled with greenery, from ferns on forest floors with towering Douglas fir (the tallest tree in the country just behind Sequoia). In addition to providing natural beauty in abundance, the Washington State Forest are great places for hiking, camping or photography. Or just find a place to sit and commune with nature among the trees. Washington State’s forests are mostly evergreen, filled with spruce and pine trees, lush moss and fern foliage.

If you live in the state or are visiting, taking some time to recharge in some of the most beautiful forests in Washington is the perfect way to enjoy one of those things Evergreen State does best.

State Capitol Forest

Washington State Forests.

Aryeh Alex / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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While some of the local forests are far from cities, not all are. Case and point – the Capitol State Forest is less than an hour south of Olympia (which, in turn, is just over an hour south of Seattle). The forest covers 100,000 acres and is mottled with trails for hikers, bikers, riders and off-roaders.

In the woods lies a small ghost town called Bordeaux, which can be hard to find, but its elusive nature makes it nice for explorers to track down. And if you can’t find it, you might run into a waterfall or find a meadow filled with wildflowers. Just outside the woods are the Mima Mounds, one of Washington’s most unique natural formations. You will need a Discover Pass to visit the forest.

Mt. Rainier National Park

U.S., Washington, Mt. Rainier National Park, a field of wildflowers

Renee Frederick / Getty Images

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Mt. Rainier National Park is near both Seattle or Tacoma and about half the park is covered in forest, both old and new. Trees include towering Douglas fir, mountain hemlock and Alaskan yellow cedar. Because the park includes both low and high elevations, these forests include a wider variety of trees than many other forests in the state.

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There’s also a huge variety in terms of age, from trees as young as a few decades old to old-growth forests that are over 1,000 years old! You can find some of this old growth in the easily accessible Grove of the Patriarchs that hike on all levels close to the Ohanapecosh motorcamp. Some of the trees there are more than 25 feet in circumference and some are over 1,000 years old.

Olympic Rainforest National Park

Willaby Creek Falls in the rain, Quinault Rainforest

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Olympic National Park is known for many things – rocky shores, towering ranges and forests. Unique to this park in the Washington Peninsula are the temperate rain forests – the Hoh and Quinault rain forests – that are very likely that Wet places in the continental United States. Wandering through these forests may just make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale with their towering old growth trees, lush ferns on the forest floor and moss literally hanging from the tree branches.

Exploring either of these forests combines well with a night or two in the park. Stay at Quinolt Lake Lodge to be in close proximity to the Quinolt Rainforest and its wide trails, or Kalaloch Lodge to explore the Hoh Rainforest. Both forests have trails long and short, simple and challenging. And both lie warm and cozy and feel that you are a million miles away from the modern world, which is exactly how you should feel if you are spending time in the woods.

Ginkgo petrified forest

fossilized tree

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So, this forest is a little different than your average Washington forest. You won’t find the kind of old growth you’d expect in other forests. You won’t even find much greenery. This is a forest of fossilized trees from thousands of years ago.

In addition to trails with fossilized logs left where they were first found, there is also an interpretive center with different kinds of fossilized wood on display. If you pass through or if you find yourself needing more than one day, you can camp at Wanapum Campground, located in Ginem Petrified Forest State Park.

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The most beautiful forests to visit in Washington state

Washington isn’t called the “Evergreen State” for nothing – the state is full of greenery, from ferns on the forest floors to tall Douglas firs (the tallest tree in the country just behind the sequoia). Washington state’s forests not only provide an abundance of natural beauty, but they’re also the perfect place to hike, camp or take pictures. Or just find a place to sit and commune with nature among the trees. Washington State’s forests are mostly evergreen, filled with spruce and pine trees, lush moss and leafy ferns.

If you live in or are visiting the state, spending some time recharging in one of the most beautiful forests in Washington is the perfect way to enjoy what’s best about the Evergreen State.

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Capitol State Forest.

While some of the local forests are far from the cities, not all are. Case and point – Capitol State Forest is less than an hour south of Olympia (which, in turn, is just over an hour south of Seattle). The forest spans 100,000 acres and is crisscrossed with trails for hikers, mountain bikers, riders and off-roaders.

In the woods lies a small ghost town called Bordeaux, which can be hard to find, but its elusive nature makes it interesting to explore. And if you can’t find it, you might come across a waterfall or find a meadow filled with wildflowers. Just beyond the forest are Mima Mounds, one of Washington’s most unique natural formations. You’ll need a pass to visit the forest.

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Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park is near Seattle or Tacoma, and about half of the park is covered in forest, both old and new. Trees include tall Douglas firs, mountain hemlock, and Alaska yellow cedar. Because the park includes both low and high elevations, these forests include a wider variety of trees than many other forests in the state.

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There is also a huge range in terms of age, ranging from trees a few decades old to old-growth forests that are over 1,000 years old! You can spot some of this old growth in the easily accessible Grove of the Patriarchs, which is a hike for all levels close to Camp Ohanaposh. Some of the trees are over 25 feet in circumference and some are over 1,000 years old.

Olympic Tropical Forests National Park

Olympic National Park is known for many things – rugged coastlines, towering mountain ranges, and forests. Unique to this park on the Washington Peninsula are the temperate rainforests, the Hoh and Quino Rainforests, which are probably the wettest places in the continental United States. Wandering through these forests, you can feel like you’re in a fairy tale with their tall old growth trees, lush ferns on the forest floor, and moss literally hanging from the branches of the trees.

Exploring any of these forests goes well with a night or two in the park. Stay at Lake Quinault Lodge to be in close proximity to the Kino Rainforest and its many trails, or at Kalaloch Cottage to explore the Ho Rainforest. Both rainforests have long and short trails, easy and hard. And both lodges are warm and cozy, and you feel like you’re a million miles away from the modern world, and that’s how you should feel if you spend time in the woods.

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Gingko Petrified Forest.

So, this forest is a little different than your average Washington woods. You won’t find the aging you’d expect in other forests. You won’t even find much greenery. This is a forest of petrified trees from thousands of years ago.

In addition to trails with petrified logs left where they were first discovered, there is also an interpretive center with different kinds of petrified wood. If you’re driving through town or need more than a day, you can camp at Wanapum Campground, located in Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.

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Continue the 5 out of 5 below. 05 of 05

Point Defiance and Discovery Park.

Two peas in a wooded cage, Point Defiance in Tacoma and Discovery Park in Seattle are great wooded urban parks. If you can’t get out of the city, both of these parks are graced with beautiful Northwest greenery in its best and even old-growth forests right in the city limits. Point Defiance Park, for example, is home to a giant sequoia tree that dates back to the 1600s. It is marked by a sign along Five Mile Drive. Both parks have many trails, as well as recreational areas along the water, lookouts, and open glades.

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