A walk in the woods is an experience that often evokes a very primal sensation deep within our souls. We come from the woods and we depend on the oxygen and materials produced by the woods. We also often find solace and inspiration when we are surrounded by trees and nature. These particular forests all have something extra special – mysticism.
The Wild Pacific Trail is located in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia. There are three main loops, Lighthouse loop, Artist loop, and Ancient Cedar and Rocky Bluff loop, that make up this enchanting trail system through the temperate rainforest on the western coast of Vancouver Island. What makes walking through these forests so special is its parallel proximity to the thunderous ocean and dramatic coastline. The meeting of rainforest and ocean is the epitome of mystical.
The Olympic National Park is located in the northwest region of Washington State. This inspiring stretch of wilderness is the longest undeveloped stretch of protected forest in the contiguous United States. Olympic National Park is home to a pristine old-growth temperature rainforest, exquisite alpine meadows, over 113 kilometers/ 70 miles of wild coastline, and eleven major river systems. There are extensive walking trails where you can admire the world’s largest stand of virgin temperate rainforest and some of the largest coniferous tree species on the earth.
On the road to Hana, especially near mile marker 7, a magical grove of trees thrives, the rainbow eucalyptus. Rainbow eucalyptus are not native to Hawaii, but grow all over the island of Maui, especially along the road to Hana and the slopes of Haleakala. The trunks of the rainbow eucalyptus look like someone splattered all different colors of paint on it. This delicious smelling and beautifully “painted” trees are truly a sight to see.
Piedras Blancas National Park was once part of the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula. It is now it’s own entity and far-less visited and crowded than the famed Corcovado National Park. A walk through this off-the-beaten-path rainforest is an extraordinary experience. The tropical paradise is home to five wildcat species, as well as sloths, spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins monkeys, toucans, anteaters, and a melodious collection of birds.
While most people only think of the Amazon rainforest when they think of South America, there is actually another rainforest located in the southern region of South America. This thin strip of temperate rainforest flourishes between the western slope of the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. What’s truly unique about this vulnerable ecosystem is its collection of endemic species and tiny creatures. Both the world’s smallest deer, the pudu, and the smallest cat, the kodkoh, live in these magical woods. It is also home to the endemic monkey puzzle tree, which has been growing here since the age of the dinosaurs.
A hike through a dense cloud forests ends in the Valle de Cocora in the highlands of Colombia. Valle de Cocora is home to the world’s tallest palm tree forest. The wax palms tower overhead so high that they are often engulfed in passing clouds. The palm fonds at the very top of these impressive trees appear delicate, but don’t be fooled, these are the hardiest of trees.
A walk through the Goblin Forest in East Egmont, New Zealand is a strange and beautiful experience. The Goblin Forest is a contorted forest of predominately kamahi trees that are covered in hanging moss and surrounded by ferns. This forest scene is fantastical. The short, but nature-rich walk through this gnarled woodland is called the Kamahi Loop.
The 65 million year old temperate Tarkine rainforest is located on the island of Tasmania. It is the largest temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere. A walk through these ancient woods is a dreamy experience. There are several species of plants and animals that are endemic to this area, including the rare Tasmanian devil. There are also hundreds of species of birds that call these woods home. On top of the temperate rainforest ecosystem, the Tarkine Forest Reserve also hosts beautiful sandy beaches, rugged coastlines, grassy woodlands, mountains, wild rivers, and caves.
Deep in the Middle Atlas Mountains is the Azrou Cedar Forest. Some of the cedars in this peaceful forest are over 400 years old and 200 feet tall. Aside from the magnificent cedars, there are also juniper, fir, and holly trees. This highland forest is also home to a large population of Barbary apes. The apes aren’t shy and are just as curious about you as you will be about them when you spot them on your walk.
The Crooked Forest consists of 400 bizarrely crooked trees. The trunks of these trees all have a 90 degree bend in their base. The reason for this curious crookedness is unknown. A stroll through this mysterious patch of forest will surely inspire your imagination and make you feel like you are in some sort of mythical tale.
It is believed that the Black Forest inspired many of the Brothers Grim fairy tales. This enormous forest boasts a mix of charming towns and villages and vast stretches of pristine and untouched woodland. The canopy of this forest is so dense that the understory is quite dim for lack of penetrable sunshine. There are well-marked walking trails throughout all the different regions of the forest where you can let your mind wonder as your feet move you through this fairy-talesque landscape.