We had a wonderful time in the trees among the California Coastal Redwoods of Redwoods National Park. We stayed in Elk Prairie Campground, and the all day hike we went on was near this area, which the state preserved from loggers in 1918, when there was only 4% of the old growth forest left. The national park came in 1968 and surrounds and includes this state land but is mostly second growth forest.
The evening before, we had gone to one of the best ranger programs I’ve ever been to, by the ranger you can see in the second photo below. The talk was about banana slugs and snails, so our younger daughter was searching for them during the whole time, looking down at the ground, instead of up at these giants.
We liked the coastal redwoods better than the sequoias. The sequoias are wider by about a foot but the redwoods are much taller. Redwoods are more fire resistant, where sequoias require fire for their seeds to sprout. The redwoods feel more friendly and grow more communally, reinforcing each other in their root system. Because of this you can get closer to them than the sequoias, and you are allowed to climb them without jeopardizing them. Many you can crawl into or step inside, and the fallen trees are fun to play on as well. It is also incredible to see other trees growing on top of downed giants.
On our hike was the tallest tree in the world, but they no longer mark it, because they are concerned about vandalism. So we kept voting for contenders of the prize as we hiked. The oldest tree in this forest is 2522 years old (!) but the tallest one is only 300 years old, standing at 379.6 feet tall. These trees get their height in the first 100 years. The odds of a seed getting to sprout is only 1% – the cones are tiny and the seeds are minuscule– so they also regenerate from their burls. Since these trees require about 500 gallons of water a day, which they mostly collect from the daily fog off the Pacific ocean, this is the only place on the planet these beauties grow.
We heard stories of logging days when a single cross section of a tree would make a whole ballroom floor, or a whole church was built out of the lumber from one tree. Because old growth lumber is worth about $500,000 per average tree, this national park was the most expensive to buy land for since it had to be purchased from the logging company at the value of the lumber.
We had an amazing day exploring this forest, and had lots of fun as you can see in the copious photos below. It was great to be together, and it was wonderful to see that one’s grown children still know how to play!