When I think of the Pacific Northwest, I think of Pacific Northwest forests. And when I think of Pacific Northwest forest, I think of Pacific Northwest old-growth temperate forests and rainforests, optimized by massive bigleaf maple, western redcedar, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, Douglas-fir, red alder and coastal redwood.

These forests run along the Pacific coast from Southeast Alaska, through British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and into Northern California.

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These giant forests are places to find solitude and quiet … places to see many of the world’s largest trees while also paying attention to the little things growing on the forest floor.

Coastal Trail through redwood forest, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Del Norte County, California
Coastal Trail through redwood forest, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, California
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A fallen log in natural grass woodland park and temperate old-growth forest near Sams River Loop Trail, Queets rainforest, Olympic National Park, Jefferson County, Washington, USA
Woodland park in temperate old-growth forest, Queets rainforest, Olympic National Park
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Forest of the Elwha River valley, Olympic National Park
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Mount Rainier National Park
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Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California
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With up to 10 feet of annual rainfall, and located just below the Pacific Coast Ranges, these forests are prolific with creeks, streams, rivers and waterfalls.

Panther Creek, Mount Rainier National Park
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Oneonta Gorge , Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
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Punchbowl Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
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Lillian Creek, Olympic National Park
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Boulder River, Washington
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Martha Falls, Mount Rainier National Park
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Dosewallips River, Washington
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Stillaguamish River near Verlot Campground, Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington, USA
Stillaguamish River, Washington
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April through June are great times to find wildflowers blooming on the forest floor.

Pacific rhododendron, Mount Walker, Washington
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Pacific rhododendrons, Rhododendron State Park, Washington
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Bleeding Heart, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
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Hooker fairy-bell, found along Wahkeena Creek Trail, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon, USA
Hooker fairy-bell, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
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Lunaria annua, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
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While Pacific Northwest forests are dominated with conifers, there are still concentrations of deciduous trees like cottonwood, bigleaf maple, alder, vine maple, subalpine larch and a variety of shrubs that can splash some fall color against the dark green coniferous backdrop come autumn.

Vine maple, Mount Rainier National Park
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Vine maple, Mount Rainier National Park
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In winter, low-land forests generally remain snow-free and open to year-round exploration (usually in the rain). Mid- to upper-elevation forests, however, accumulate significant depths of snow and become a winter playground for snowshoeing and other winter sports.

Cascade Mountains, Washington
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Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park
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Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park
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Big leaf maple, Olympic National Park
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Chinook Pass, Mount Rainier National Park
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Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park
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