Come see the Tree of Life, Washington State natural wonder, just 40 minutes from Manitou Lodge in Forks, WA.
“What is the Tree of Life,” you ask? The “Tree of Life”, is a Sitka spruce, the largest kind of spruce, and one of Washington State’s most famous trees. Why is this tree famous?
Oh, no reason in particular, just that it appears to be growing in mid air!
This particular Sitka spruce is growing on the edge of bluff overlooking the beach. A stream has chosen the same location to reach the beach and is slowly eroding away the soil beneath the tree. The end result is a mature Sitka spruce, green with life yet dangling precariously in mid air from a few strong roots. The space beneath the tree’s exposed roots is large enough to enter and is known as Tree Root Cave. The stream that has created this phenomenon flows out of the cave and down to the ocean.
This stunning natural wonder has no official name. Consequently, it goes by many: the Kalaloch Tree, The Runaway Tree, Tree Root Cave (for the space beneath the tree) and The Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life is located in Olympic National Park, on the beach near Kalaloch Campground. But no one knows for sure how long that will be true. The same erosion that has created the natural spectacle continues and, surely, some day, the Tree of Life must fall.
Locals and visitors alike check back year after year, expecting the worst but the Tree of Life remains. Clinging non-intuitively to the sides of its crumbling cliff.
Directions to Tree of Life, Washington State
Getting to the Tree of Life from Manitou Lodge, near Forks, WA, is a 30 to 40 minute drive.
Head south on Highway 101 from Forks. Keep an eye out for signs pointing to Kalaloch Campground (“campground,” not “lodge”). Park in the ample campground parking and look for the path leading to the beach (it is opposite the campground, across the parking area). Once you’re on the beach, turn right and you’re at Tree Root Cave.
As with all beach adventures on the Olympic Peninsula, it is important that you plan accordingly. Check the tide charts before you head out and be sure to wear proper gear. This is the Pacific Northwest, after all – we get a little rain now and again. Rain boots, a good raincoat, and a waterproof bag are all excellent ideas.
When it comes to the Tree of Life, please use your head. Don’t hang on or tug on the roots, don’t hang things from the roots, and don’t dig at the cave walls. Most importantly, don’t start a fire in the cave below the roots. You wouldn’t think these things would be necessary to state but ALL have been done in the past, if you can believe it …
Beyond The Tree Of Life
The Tree of Life is incredible – but it’s not the only reason to visit the Kalaloch area.
“Kalaloch” is Quinault for “a good place to land” and the name is no accident. The area offers a variety of sandy beaches, trails, and scenic overlooks to discover and explore. Wildlife here includes sea otters, shorebirds, tidepools with crabs and sea urchins, clams, and even the occasional sight of whales and dolphins.
After a day’s fun exploring the Olympic Peninsula and all it has to offer, head back towards Forks and the beautiful Manitou Lodge for a restful night’s sleep.