Overlooked by the masses who head to the mosses of the Hoh, the Bogachiel Rainforest might be one of America’s best kept secrets. Just a few short miles form the small logging town of Forks, Washington, this wild and scenic river on the Olympic Peninsula is home to iconic rainforest trails and access to a remote corner of Olympic National Park. Closed in March of 2016, when the Bogachiel River shifted course and wiped out part of the trail, the area has now reopened, once again allowing endless wilderness exploration in a hidden corner of the Olympics. Full of history, majestic forests and a lifetime of breathtaking rainforest views, the Bogachiel needs to be your next Olympic destination. The beauty of the Bogachiel helped inspire the creation of Olympic National Park, so why not explore it on your next day off?
The Bogachiel Rainforest is accessed along Undi Road just south of Forks, darting sharply east into a majestic valley full of ferns, mosses, towering trees and pristine, saturated wilderness. To say that the region is wet is an understatement. The city of Forks receives an average of 10 feet of rain each year, while the Bogachiel Rainforest, gets around 14 feet of rain annually, making hiking in the area an incredibly green (albeit wet) experience. The best trail option is starting at the Ira Spring Wetland Trail and working your way into the lush undergrowth of the Bogachiel Rainforest in Olympic National Park. For dozens of miles, the Bogachiel Rainforest Trail weaves through some of the most spectacular scenery in America, and is often devoid of human life, except your hiking party. The trail enters through wilderness so isolated and spectacular, you won’t look at any other forest the same.
The most popular hikes along the Bogachiel River are the Rain Forest River Trail and the Ira Spring Wetland Trail, both of which are considered to be part of the 1200 mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. The Rainforest Trail is a two mile out and back trek that meanders through a forest that was logged out in the 1940s for WWII. Today, the region has returned to its natural beauty, following creeks and along the Bogachiel River. After two miles, the trail reaches the Olympic National Park boundary, where hiking trails lead to Seven Lakes Basin and the Sol Duc Hot Springs and Waterfall. Keep in mind that the first two miles of the trail have been rerouted due to the Bogachiel River wildly shifting through the valley and eroding the wetlands where the trail once traveled.
The Ira Spring Wetland Trail is another fantastic hike in the Bogachiel Rainforest that can be combined with the Rainforest River Trail for an awesome loop. For three miles, the trail wanders through wetlands, towering ferns, moss-draped trees and stunning Spruce, Hemlock and Cedar trees. Each step taken along the Bogachiel Trails allows you drift further away from your worries and stresses, transported into a rainforest full of timeless beauty and unlimited wanderlust potential. Hiking this loop trail will give you a taste of the power of wilderness along the Bogachiel River and entice you to make this your summer backpacking destination. You’d have to be crazy to not come out to the Bogachiel and hike this loop trail.
The beauty of the Bogachiel has been attracting people to the area for millennia. The Bogachiel gets its name from the Quileute tribe, which loosely translates to “gets muddy after rain.” The Quileute have called the region home for thousands of years, enjoying the nourishing power of this stunning river valley. More recently, the region has drawn settlers from around the world, all hoping for their own slice of wilderness. Most famously, the Bogachiel was the homestead location for Chris Morgenroth. Chris immigrated from Germany to the Bogachiel region in 1885, with hopes to explore the wild Pacific Northwest. For twenty years, he explored the area, laying the groundwork for Highway 101, as well as numerous other local trails. In 1905, Chris Morgenroth worked as a forest ranger for the United States Forest Service, becoming the first District Ranger for the region. His district comprised of roughly 600,000 acres of insanely gorgeous rainforest terrain. During his twenty-two years as a ranger in the Olympic Wilderness, he fell in love with the rainforest, coast and mountains of Olympic. For the remainder of his life, he helped fight for the creation of Olympic National Park, eventually seeing the creation of the park in 1938, one year before his death.
The Bogachiel Rainforest’s wilderness beauty is powerful, intoxicating an addicting. Every trip out here inspires more plans deeper into the lush setting, eventually inspiring your wanderlust enough to hike the entire trail. Even as a short day hike, the Bogachiel is pure and gorgeous, wonderful and soul nourishing. While the Hoh and Quinault get all the love, the Bogachiel is rainforest region that never fails to impress. This weekend or on your net day off, head out to Forks, hike the Bogachiel Rainforest and end your day along the coast at LaPush.
What more could you want out of hiking in the rainforests of Olympic National Park and Forest?
Discover a Hike a Week through Doug Scott’s Olympic National Park Area Guidebook