The first rain of fall is a good sign for people hoping to head to the forest for mushroom hunting.
Dozens of types of edible mushrooms should be sprouting on forest floors from Mount Rainier to Hood Canal to the Olympic Coast.
Among the varieties most popular with mushroom hunters are chanterelles, matsutake, boletus, morels, shaggy mane, pig’s ear, hen-of-the-woods and brain mushrooms.
While there are a host of places to hunt mushrooms, first-timers need to heed a word of caution. With 28,700 species of macro-fungi, it can be difficult to learn which are good, which are OK and which will make you sick.
Take Amanita ocreata as an example. In a young stage, it looks very much like the mushrooms you would find in a grocery store. Its common name, Destroying Angel, gives you a hint of its deadliness.
“Show-and-tell events are superb. They are a good place to start learning,” Allen Gibbs, spokesman for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, said in a previous interview.
Here are some popular mushroom hunting destinations:
Capitol State Forest: The trails leading from and around the Margaret McKenny Campground are a good place to start.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest: The La Wis Wis Campground east of Packwood is a popular spot. People 18 and older must have a free permit that allows you to pick up to 3 gallons per day. You cannot pick mushrooms at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest: Try some of the areas north of Mount Rainier National Park and along state Route 410. No permit is necessary if the mushrooms are for personal use.
Mount Rainier National Park: The woods and valleys on the southern side of the park are popular mushroom hunting locations. The hike between Narada Falls and the Longmire area is another popular mushroom area, as is the Carbon River rain forest. Inside the park, non-commercial mushroom picking is allowed up to two quarts per person per day.
Olympic National Forest: The foothills of the Olympic Mountains west of Hood Canal are a good option. Travel along Forest Roads 24 and 25. The daily limit is 1 gallon per person of a single species of mushrooms.
State parks: Good options in the South Sound include Millersylvania and Penrose Point state parks. Twanoh State Park, on the southern edge of Hood Canal, serves as a location for some field trips held by the Puget Sound Mycological Society. Wild Mushroom Show: The Puget Sound Mycological Society event will run from noon-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 13 at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle. More than 200 varieties of wild mushrooms will be on display at the 50th annual show. There will be cooking demonstrations, lectures and information booths. Learn more at psms.org.
Millersylvania Mushroom Foray: Jim Pruske will lead a Black Hills Audubon Society field trip Oct. 19 from 9 a.m.-early afternoon. He will help participants identify many of the more common mushroom species associated with Northwest conifer and deciduous forests. The date of the trip is tentative, based on weather conditions. To sign up, contact Pruske at 360-459-3655 or the society office line at 360-352-7299. For more details, go to blackhills-audubon.org.
Foraging For Edible Wild Mushrooms: This Oct. 26 class is being offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute. Participants will learn how to identify common characteristics of wild edible mushrooms, how to harvest edible mushrooms and cook them. Participants should be in good shape and able to hike several miles over rough terrain. The cost is $75, $30 is a tax-deductible contribution to the Institute. For information or to sign up, go to mshinstitute.org.Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 email@example.com thenewstribune.com/outdoors