The Story Behind the Kalaloch Tree of Life

Kalaloch Tree of Life
Kalaloch Tree of Life | © Kalaloch Lodge
Samantha Ladwig

Washington State is chock-full of natural wonders. Further west, out along the shores of the Pacific Coast, is another one of Washington State’s natural wonders, the Kalaloch Tree of Life.

The tree sits in the plush Olympic National Park, about an hour southwest of the Hoh Rainforest. Because the wondrous tree lacks a specific name, it’s also called The Tree of Life, The Runaway Tree, and simply, the Kalaloch Tree.

Kalaloch Tree of Life

The Kalaloch Tree is a Sitka spruce, the largest type of spruce. The Sitka spruce runs along the west coast, its name deriving from the expansive Sitka community located in Alaska. It’s noted for both its towering height and its wide trunk, two characteristics that contribute to this tree’s mystery. The Kalaloch Tree, located just south of Forks and along the 101 Highway, is literally hanging by a limb. As seen in the photos, the massive tree clings to its parting coastal bluff by winding thick roots.

Witnesses of the tree continue to return every year to gape at its wonder, expecting it to have fallen during the time between their visits. And each year, to everyone’s surprise, the tree remains in its questionable position, though it’s hard not to notice the dip and sag in the middle, obviously a result of the trunk’s heavy weight. It’s that dip and sag that make continual visitors believe that come next year, the tree will be no more.

Underneath the webbed roots of the Kalaloch Tree is the Tree Root Cave. Inside, a stream falls into the cave and flows out into the ocean. It’s this stream that washes out the soil underneath the roots every year. Many question how the tree continues to grow and the leaves continue to stay green. According to the Kalaloch Lodge’s website, “These questions have been asked so many times with no one really knowing how it keeps on going. So it became known to some as the Tree of Life.”

The tree is easily accessible, requiring only a minimal hike. The Kalaloch Lodge sits nearby for overnighters and the trail head sits right off of the 101 Highway. For those tackling a coastal road trip or for Washingtonian’s just looking for a day trip adventure, the Kalaloch Tree is not something to miss.

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