By Judy Smith
Did you know there are two loop trails directly behind the Forks Visitor Center and Timber Museum? It is truly about as backyard as you can get in Forks. They are the perfect place to go if you have limited time for a hike.
I decide to walk the longer trail first. At 1.25 miles the Olympic Natural Resources Center Trail can be hiked in about 30 minutes. The trailhead is in the parking lot near the Forks Timber Museum. I begin by climbing up a moderate grade through the forest for 0.3 miles. I like going uphill at the start of a hike, because it means I get to go downhill at the end when I’m tired.
Coming to a trail junction, I go to the right and cross a small bridge and then I cross a road. There are several signed trail junctions and road crossings on this route. As a rule, stay to the right and go across the roads. After another short uphill grade, I come in view of the ONRC buildings. The trail stays slightly down the hill and away from the development, so it still feels like I’m in the woods.
After I’ve looped through the forest around the development, I come to a final road crossing. I walk down the road for 50 yards and then pick up the trail again on the right side of the road. Within minutes I’m back at the parking lot.
My husband calls to see if I’m going to be home for lunch in 20 minutes. That gives me just enough time to cruise around the 0.5 mile Floyd M. Thornton Memorial Trail and drive home.
This pleasant trail starts directly behind the visitor center and makes a loop through the forest. There are several interpretive signs that identify vegetation. Log rounds provide footing through an area that gets boggy during the wet season. Before long, I come through a tunnel of vine maple and find myself by the Loggers Memorial and rhododendron garden.
Back at the parking lot, there is an early sign of fall. I take a moment to admire several elk hanging out at the airport before getting back in my car and heading home for lunch.