Coast Redwoods - The Tallest Trees In The World

Some of the tallest trees on Earth grow along a thin strip of Pacific Coast which stretches from Big Sur, California all the way up to sout...

Some of the tallest trees on Earth grow along a thin strip of Pacific Coast which stretches from Big Sur, California all the way up to southern Oregon. Muir Woods National Monument, located just 12 miles (19 km) north of Golden Gate Bridge, is probably the most accessible place to witness those living giants.

Muir Woods National Monument is settled in a canyon surrounded by beautiful hills of Marin County.
Parking lots are very small at the park, so many people leave their cars along the road and walk to the park entrance. There is also a possibility to take a local bus #66 which operates from May to October on weekends.
Muir Woods National Monument is one of the oldest parks in the United States and one of the most impressive ones I've seen so far. The difference between a national park and a national monument is just a formality. Parks are proclaimed by Congress whereas monuments are proclaimed by US presidents. Although the idea is the same, creating a monument is usually way easier since only one person needs to make a decision.
Scientists believe that redwood trees covered most of the Northern Hemisphere 150 millions years ago. However their habitat shrank as the climate changed. Now only two species of redwood trees remained in California - Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. The latter live on western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Unlike coast redwoods which are generally taller, giant sequoias are larger in volume. I'll post an article about them soon, so stay tuned.
Thanks to William Kent and his wife who purchased this land in 1905 to protect it from development. Two years later, North Coast Water Company was trying to obtain a permit to build a dam and a reservoir here. William Kent who later became a congressman offered to donate this land to the federal government if the President (Theodore Roosevelt) agrees to create a national monument here. Of course, Theodore Roosevelt was happy to do that as he was a big outdoorsman and nature lover himself.
William Kent wanted to name the newly created park in honour of John Muir, his friend and a naturalist. John Muir with Theodore Roosevelt probably played the biggest roles in the US nature conservation. This is what John Muir said about this park's trees: I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.
The biggest concentration of redwood trees is in two groves - Bohemian Grove and Cathedral Grove. Most of them are at least 500-800 years old.
This part of the park is easily accessible as there are paved pedestrian roads along the both banks of the Redwood creek. As a result, you are not going to find a solitude here, especially on weekends. However, there are signs all over this area which ask visitors to maintain natural quiet.
Coast redwood grows more than 300 ft (100 m) high. The biggest trees in the world, however, are not located here. They grow further north in Redwood National and State Parks. The absolute champion is Hyperion discovered only in 2006. It's 379 ft (115 m) tall and its precise location is kept in secret to avoid people coming over.
Coast redwoods require a lot of rainfall. They also heavily rely on a fog in the summer when the rains are not frequent. That's why they mostly grow in canyons along the coast of Central and Northern California where fogs are abundant.
Trees get their colours from the reddish-brown tannic acid which they naturally produce to protect them from fire, insects and fungi.
A number of shade-loving plants live under a redwood canopy. One plant called redwood sorrel with heart-shaped leaves is so adapted to shade that it folds down its leaves when too much sunlight hits the plant.
Ferns and mosses are abundant.
Coast redwood also require fire which clears the floor and destroys fungi and bacteria. Its spongy and fibrous bark protects the mature tree from fire damage. This parks performs periodical prescribed fires to ensure healthy ecosystem.
I suggest you take one of the hiking trails to the forest. Bootjack, TCC, Stapelveldt and Ben Johnson trails make a loop and should keep you busy for at least 3-4 hours. You'll be rewarded with beauty of nature and solitude as not many people make it beyond paved roads.
However don't expect to see a large number of big redwood trees as the the highest concentration of them is close to the entrance along the Redwood Creek.
This is called a family of coast redwoods. Roots are very shallow but spread out for 100 ft (30 m).
Some iris flowers apparently like shade, too.
A huge and passable hole in the tree.
Muir Woods National Monument is a beautiful park with a very unusual attraction - some of the highest trees in the world, so I highly recommend you visit. Its close proximity to San Francisco makes the trip there a very easy thing to do.

My other posts from the Trip to California:

Kings Canyon - One of the Deepest Canyons in North America
The Hottest Place on Earth. But Is It Really Dead?

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