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The forest

Wisconsin and Minnesota have beautiful forests, but old growth forests are rare in the region. Rain forests are unheard of. Olympic National Park has both. The old growth trees are massive. Many of the fallen logs had a width greater than my heig...

Wisconsin and Minnesota have beautiful forests, but old growth forests are rare in the region. Rain forests are unheard of.

Olympic National Park has both.

The old growth trees are massive. Many of the fallen logs had a width greater than my height (5-foot-8), and a number of the trees still standing were far larger than that. Add the rain forest element and it's enough to take your breath away.

The Hoh Rain Forest is stunning. Club moss and licorice ferns hang from branches overhead and a network of roots and sword ferns cover the ground. If you keep your eyes open, you'll surely see one of the large slugs that leave trails of slime across many of the paths in the park.

Many short trails following the Hoh River through the forest are busy, but trails just off the road marked as "primitive" are very well kept and allow a view of the rain forest in solitude.

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Also, for those concerned, there are mosquitoes in Washington but not enough to threaten Minnesota's title as the nation's mosquito capital. The mosquitoes I saw must have been male because they would hover nearby for a moment and then fly away. Even when deep in a forest, I never needed bug spray and didn't suffer a single bite. Ticks are also far less common in Washington and are rare in high elevations. I saw none on my trip. By comparison, a short walk through the woods in Wisconsin yielded about three dozen ticks.

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