The Redwood Forest is a special type of temperate rainforest that is dominated by the tallest trees in the world - the 'Coast Redwoods' or 'Giant Sequoia'. Old growth redwood forests once covered over 800,000ha of coastal northern California. Today, only about 4%, or under 35,000ha remain.
The west coast of the United States (from Monterey County in northern California, going north to southern Oregon) is the only place in the world where forests of coast redwoods are found.
Redwood, also known as Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), grows in a very narrow strip along the coast of California from the extreme southwestern corner of Oregon to 150 miles south of San Francisco in the Soda Springs drainage of Big Sur. This area is about 500 miles long and rarely more than 20 or 30 miles wide in a region of frequent thick -summer fog, moderate year-round temperature, and considerable winter rainfall. Redwood does not grow naturally beyond the belt affected by this combination.
Redwood is a rapidly growing tree, and some individual trees have been measured at more than 360 feet in height, making it the tallest measured tree species on the earth. In favorable situations, trees 20 years old may average 50 feet in height and 8 inches in diameter. Average mature trees are from 200 to 240 feet high with diameters of 10 to 15 feet at 4 feet 8 inches above the ground.
Exceptional individuals sometimes reach a height of 350 feet, a diameter of over 20 feet, and an age of approximately 2000 years.
Redwood leaves are green, flat, and sharp-pointed. The brown cones are egg-shaped and only one-half inch in diameter. Their seeds average about 123,000 to a pound. The soft, reddish-brown bark, six to twelve inches thick, is one of the Coast redwood's most distinguishing characteristic and, together with the wood, names the species.
On older trees the bark has a grayish tinge, and is deeply furrowed, giving the trees a fluted appearance.Although the thick bark of older trees is relatively fire resistant, repeated fires can damage these trees considerably. The large hollows or "goose-pens" frequently found in the base of large trees give evidence of this fact.
Whether hiking, driving, or riding in a gondola, there are many ways to enjoy the
Here‘s a quick list of ten trees to get you started. All are within a few miles of Hwy 101 and almost all are easily accessible. Many are viewable or a short walk from the Avenue of the Giants and the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway, which parallel Hwy 101.
Big Tree - 304' x 21' diameter (RNSP) This tower stands out in one of the prettiest old growth groves. Located in Redwoods National and State
Parks, north of the Prairie Creek Visitor Center on Newton B Drury Parkway. The 100-yard trail to the Big Tree is paved. Two nearby bonuses are the Roosevelt Elk herd in Prairie Creek meadow, and Fern Canyon, where a creek splits two walls of sheer rock draped in a thick carpet of ferns. Its prehistoric look convinced Steven Spielberg to film a “Jurassic Park “scene there.
Corkscrew Tree -
(RNSP) This photogenic oddity has four trunks intertwined together as they all reach up skyward. Located in Redwood National & State Park north of Prairie Creek Visitor Center near Big Tree.
Prairie Creek is sanctuary to old growth redwood forest. It is a part of the Redwood National and State Park which accounts for 45 percent of all the old-growth redwood forest remaining in California.
Prairie Creek State Park offers:
*10-mile scenic drive in Reedvood forest through ancient redwood forest on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
*Campgrounds in Redwood Forest: Elk Prairie, Gold Bluffs Beach, Environmental, and three hike/bike campgrounds
*hiking trails in Redwood Forest: 75 miles of hiking trails, bicycle trails, self-guided nature trail, backpacking
*The Lost World: - a natural wonder and filmed in the movie Jurassic Park II, The Lost World
*Scenic drive in Redwood Forest; Cal-Barrel Road (scenic drive; motorhomes and trailers prohibited.)
*Picnic areas in Redwood Forest; Picnic areas in the redwoods & on the beach
*Wildlife viewing in Redwood Forest; includes Roosevelt elk, whale watching, and interesting birding (spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and 262 more animal species). Watch for Roosevelt elk grazing in the prairie.
Accessible trails for individuals with physical or visual limitations - Accessibility Features: stop at visitor center for trail maps.
Tall Tree - (RNSP) Named the tallest redwood in 1963, this tower helped generate public support for the creation of Redwood National Park five years later. Located in the Tall Trees Grove. The round trip hike on Redwood Creek Trail can take a day, but the first leg includes a nice stand of old growth trees and a meadow frequented by elk. To sidestep most of the hike, a limited number of free daily permits are available in nearby Orick. Take Bald Hills Rd to the Tall Groves access road. Call for permit: 707-465-7354 Prairie Creek Visitor Center.
World's Tallest Tree
During the summer of 2006, an adventurous team of scientists have discovered not one but three new trees in Redwood National & State Parks that shatter the record for the world's tallest tree.
In late 2006, naturalists discovered a new tall tree, dubbed Hyperion. It is in the Redwood National Park in Humboldt County (near the original Tall Tree that was discovered in the 60s) in an undisclosed location. It rises to 379.1 feet, which is nearly six stories taller than the Statue of Liberty!
Camp among the tallest trees in the world.
REDWOODS: Humboldt Redwoods State Park is truly an amazing adventure, since the park has 10 of the 15 tallest trees in the world and Eel river access.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a part of the Redwood National & State Park system lets you camp among the redwoods where the Roosevelt elk roam. Richardson Grove and Van Duzen County Park & Grizzly Creek SP on Hwy 36 offer redwoods & river.
Giant Tree - (HRSP) Once 363', it is now 354' after a storm broke off its top. Not the tallest redwood, but pretty much the best in show. Designated a Champion redwood tree for having the best combination of height, diameter, and crown spread, or how the branches spread out. It may be the largest coastal redwood, as far as mass goes. Located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park near Mattole Rd., in the Rockefeller Forest. (the world's largest remaining contiguous old growth coastal redwood forest)
Founders Tree - (HRSP) Offers a nice view from a distance because the limbs don‘t start until almost 200 feet up, more than half the length of a football field. Onlookers notice primarily the big trunk, described as a majestic temple column. Located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park near the town of Weott. Four miles north of the Visitor Center, just off the Avenue of the Giants on the Dyerville Loop Road. MAP
Dyerville Giant - (HRSP) This champion tree crashed to the ground in 1991, creating a thunderous roar akin to a train wreck, but still impresses visitors today. The one million pound giant left behind a carcass almost 400 feet in length including a huge uprooted root cluster with wooden “dreadlocks “ sprouting in all directions, as well as an enormous crater where it once stood. Located just south of the Founders Tree. (see directions above)
Redwood Forest Girdled Tree - (HRSP) This big redwood is thin-skinned but managed to survive a major insult. About one hundred years ago, a group removed most of the first 30 feet of bark and took it to San Francisco to stitch together a faux redwood trunk for an exhibition. Remarkably it survived, and the scar edge allows visitors a dramatic view of the one-foot thickness of the redwood bark, which protects them well from fires and pests. Located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in French Grove, just south of the town of Pepperwood.
Albino Redwoods - (HRSP) A handful of these rare white specimens, which take in nutrients from their mother trees, dot the redwood groves in Humboldt County parks. Hard to find, but worth a look. Located: One, the 30-foot-high Christmas Tree, is located in the Women’s Federation Grove, a few miles north of the town of Weott. The other, the 20-foot tall Spirit Tree, sprouts from the base of a giant redwood in a redwood grove about three miles north of the town of Redcrest.
Johnson Trail Trees - (HRSP) The high elevation section of this forest includes redwoods at the limit of their growing range. There are big boulders strewn about, which the redwoods grab and break down with their roots. A bonus is a trail section recovering from a fire a few years ago, where blackened redwoods share floor space with young fire-friendly plants. Located: Trailhead is off Mattole Road, a few miles west of Weott.
Trees of Mystery - (RNSP) Not quite in Humboldt County, but this private redwood reserve within RNSP is worth a mention. Here visitors can ride a gondola from the ground to above the treetops, taking a close look at the redwood canopies, which often host “fern islands, “small, watery ecosystems with rare salamanders, waterbugs, fungi and plants.