Hiker killed by falling tree at remote National Park campsite

Two people walking on woodland at Olympic National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

A hiker was killed at Olympic National Park this week when a tree fell on his tent. In a statement, the National Park Service  explained that rescuers were alerted to the incident using a Garmin InReach device, but after dispatching a helicopter to the site, they found that the man had passed away.

As United Press International reports, the incident took place at a remote campsite by Elk Lake, which is a popular area for fishing and nature viewing.

The NPS hasn't given any further details about the accident, but last week, officials at Yosemite National Park shared a warning that relaxing under trees can be very dangerous at this time of year due to a phenomenon called summer branch drop (also known as sudden limb drop). It can happen to any tree species, but is most likely to affect oaks at Yosemite.

Summer branch drop (SBD) usually happens on warm, calm  evenings, and unlike wind damage that breaks limbs off at the trunk, SBD typically causes long, heavy branches to break off partway along their length.

The exact cause of SBD isn't known, but it may be related to drought stress, which limits flow of sap within tree limbs and increases their internal temperature.

"Be aware of your surroundings and do not leave immobile people, such as infants or the elderly, directly under large oak trees," said Yosemite officials in a Facebook post. "If you hear a loud crack from a tree, quickly get away from the area. If you happen to see a tree or branch fall in the park, please report it to a nearby ranger or through our website."

For more advice, see our guide hazards trees: what's your risk of falling trees as a hiker?

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.