U.S. Forest Service research dates back almost to the time the national forests were created. In 1910, research began at Wind River to learn more about reforestation following the Yacolt Fire in 1902. Established in 1912, the Wind River Arboretum is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest and ranks among the earliest forestry experiments still in existence in the region.
This interpretive trail passes dead and surviving trees of 250 species from all over the world planted here to see which ones would grow best for timber production. Small placards identify each species; 14 larger interpretive signs tell how the exotic trees fared. It’s no surprise native trees grow best in this climate.
If you start your hike on the trail to the left at the arboretum entrance, you will be able to read the interpretive signs in sequence. As you walk through the groves, contemplate the long-term learning that has happened here over the last century. When you leave, look up in awe at the Giant Sequoia trees in front of the historic houses on Chapman Avenue; they have grown very well at Wind River.
The low elevation makes this family-friendly hike accessible most of the year, but spring brings wildflowers under the trees.
WTA Pro Tip: Some of the former Forest Service houses have been renovated and are available to rent for overnight accommodations. If you’re visiting for the day restrooms are seasonally available at the Hemlock Picnic Area at the junction of Hemlock Road and FR 43.