Storm Splits Olympic National Park's Centuries-Old 'Kalaloch Cedar' Tree In Two

Mar 12, 2014

A centuries-old red western cedar tree in Olympic National Park fell victim to a storm over the weekend.

Olympic National Park spokesperson Barb Maynes said the beloved tree known as the “Kalaloch cedar” split in two on Saturday, and a large portion of it fell away.

“It certainly has been an iconic tree for many, many years,” said Maynes. 

The cedar stands 175 feet tall and its diameter stretches 19.8 feet wide, according to A local landmark and a tourist attraction, the tree, with its expansive trunk and tangled roots, has been photographed countless times over the years. A sign near the foot of the tree pays homage to its deep roots in the region.

“Western red cedar has been the art and sinew of coastal Indian village life. The trunk is house plank and ocean-going canoe; branches are harpoon line; outer bark is diaper and bandage; inner bark is basket, clothing and mattress,” the sign states. “Tree size expresses climate — heavy annual rainfall, and the nourishing damp of ocean fog. In a scramble for growing space other tree species are using the cedar as a standing nurselog.”

A part of the tree is still standing where it’s always stood — “at the end of a small gravel road” off of Highway 101 near Kalaloch Lodge, says Maynes. But it was not clear whether the tree was still alive, and a park botanist planned to examine what's left. 

Some believe the tree is at least 1,000 years old, but Maynes says there’s no way to determine its exact age without coring, which risks infection.