It is generally believed that the last ice age limited the Coast Redwoods to their present range, a narrow 450-mile strip along the Pacific Ocean from central California to southern Oregon. In the redwood belt, temperatures are moderate year-round, and heavy winter rains and dense summer fog provide the trees with the water they need. This climate was far more common in earlier eras.
Redwood is excellent lumber, especially from mature trees, and is nearly immune to rotting. Early settlers cut them ferociously, and some folks realized they would soon disappear. Muir Woods was preserved in 1908. Close to the bay area, it is so popular that entrance is by reservation only. Armstrong Redwoods in Guerneville is similar but less crowded.
Dense populations of Redwoods remain a few hundred miles north, but during the 1910s, pressure to protect the trees increased as the new Redwood Highway (Highway 101) brought scenery loving tourists to the North Coast. In 1918 activists formed the Save-the-Redwoods League. Still active and essential.
Last week on our trip up the coast we hiked in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which is 14,000 acres. On our walk we were surrounded by really huge trees, many thought to be 2,000+ years old. Upon leaving we saw a sign for Big Tree. We had to check it out, because we thought the trees we had seen were pretty big. And so it was.
Circumference 74.5 feet
Height 286 feet
Diameter 23.7 feet
On our farm we have about 20 hundred year old Redwoods, and several old growth ones down a steep (too steep to log) canyon. I also planted 120 Redwoods along one side of a pasture, now 30 feet tall (my legacy). Here’s hoping they outlive me by a few thousand years.
The view from our room shows the Turtle Rocks themselves, covered with hundreds of seals, which bark constantly. The sunset was one of the most spectacular we’ve ever seen, but my phone camera glitched and failed, so it lives on only in our memories.
It was a fine vacation.