Few conifer trees are so well adapted to the rain as the Sitka* spruce. In fact, of all the conifer giants that call the bioregion of Cascadia home, including coastal Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock, the Sitka spruce is best adapted to the extremely damp and mild climate of the coastal Pacific Northwest.
Here in the famed temperate Hoh Rain Forest, just off the road a few miles from the Olympic National Park visitor center, stands the remains of one of the giants of the species. At 270 feet tall, 12.5 feet in diameter, and estimated to be between 500 and 550 years old, the Hoh Sitka Spruce dominated its surroundings before a storm in December, 2014, broke the tree off approximately 15 feet from the ground. Now the site is more of a lesson in the regenerative cycle of fallen giants such as this. Visitors will see the decomposed remains along with the flora and fauna that have incorporated the snag into their habitat.
* Named after the town of Sitka in Alaska, the species thrives on the coastline from northern California all the way to Kodiak Island, Alaska.