Clinging to the far western edge of North America, next to the largest wilderness on earth, amid spectacular basalt rock formations erupted from volcanic vents millions of years ago and hundreds of miles away, inhabited by the indigenous Clatsop-Nehalem for millennia, periodically wracked by monster subduction zone earthquakes and inundated by massive tsunamis, and blessed with diverse wildlife, the area around the small coastal town of Cannon Beach is considered by some to be among the most beautiful places in the world.
Drenched with 90 inches of rain a year, the surrounding coastal temperate rainforest extends north along the coast of Washington and British Columbia to southeast Alaska. Although lacking the complex biodiversity of tropical rainforests, these temperate rainforests contain more biomass per acre than any forest on the planet.
Along the immediate coastline of our area, the forest is dominated by Sitka Spruce; uniquely adapted to tolerate salt air and high winds. Sitka Spruce are the third tallest conifer on earth (only the coastal Redwood and coastal Douglas Fir are taller) and if undisturbed for centuries in optimal growing conditions can reach heights of 300 feet. Sitka Spruce are also the fifth largest conifer on earth, behind the Sequoia, Redwood, Kauri, and Western Red Cedar.
Located at milepost 2 off Highway 26, The “Klootchy Creek Giant,” toppled by the “Great Coastal Gale” of 2007, was once tied for the world’s largest (by volume) Sitka Spruce, with a circumference of 49 feet and a height of over 200 feet. Our local old-growth forests were largely logged off by the 1930’s and 1940’s, but old photos and rotting stumps tell us that some of these trees were giants more than 10 feet in diameter. Huge, ancient trees still exist, preserved in state parks and other protected lands, that humble us, fill us with a sense of awe, and remind us of what once existed here.
Take some time to contemplate and appreciate your existence among the ancient rock formations, the destructive cycle of earthquakes and tsunamis, the wild ocean, the incredible wildlife, and the rainforests that have existed here for millennia in this beautiful place at the edge of the sea.