Rainforest Trail Ramble

I try to walk the Rainforest Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve before 9:00 am. At that time of day I usually have the place to myself and can soak in the huge red cedars and western hemlocks, some of which are 1,000 years old. Last week I was trying some forest photography when I heard the sound of a tour bus pulling in. Up until that point it was just me, the trees, and a pair of common ravens socializing in the tops of the trees.

Western Red Cedar
One of many stately old western red cedars (Thuja plicata) on the Rainforest Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Note the western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) on the left side of the frame.
ISO 100, f/10, 1/8 sec – Nikon D600, 35 mm

The tour group soon caught up to me so I stopped and waited for them to pass. That’s one of the good things about using a tripod and really having to think about what you’re photographing—taking the time figure things out, notice the details. Forest photography is something that I’m still working on and haven’t quite “got it” yet. It’s challenging to isolate the elements and get the exposure right if the sky is in the image. Luckily the trees are so large and the undergrowth so dense, that it is possible to create an image with very little sky in the frame.

Looking across a lush valley of salmonberry, salad, deer fern, and evergreen huckleberry.
ISO 100, f/16, 0.8 sec – Nikon D600, 32mm

In addition to the big trees there are plenty of other things to look for. Deer fern is everywhere and the lush stream bottoms are thick with salmonberry and salal. Evergreen huckleberry and red huckleberry grow out of old rotting nurse logs. Several weeks ago coast boykinia was in bloom near the beginning of the trail, but it’s already starting to go to seed.

Rainforest Canopy
Looking up into the rainforest canopy, western red cedar dominant in the image but there are many hemlock filling in the gaps as well.
ISO 100, f/14, 0.4 sec – Nikon D600, 16mm

On a foggy, gray day, Rainforest is a good trail to consider for photography. I personally prefer the “A” loop, but good photographs can be found on either loop. Each loop of the Rainforest Trail is only about one kilometre long so it is possible to do this trail quickly and mark it as done. However, slowing down is required to really take this landscape in. I plan on a couple more revisits before the summer season is over.

Need to Know

  • You need park use permit (available from a machine in the parking lot or at any of the visitor centres in the park) displayed in your vehicle if walking the trail.
  • Two 1 km loops are possible, but the “A” loop trail is in better shape and the landscape more interesting. If you’ve got limited time, choose to do loop “A.”
  • Tripod is a good idea for photography since the light levels are low under the big trees.