A newly-formed group of former rangers, naturalists and other outdoor enthusiasts has ranked the “ten most amazing” trees of Northern California and unsurprisingly, they are all giant redwoods. The list highlights the amazing redwoods of NorCal during the launch of Redwood Coast Parks located in Orick, California.
“There’s no private organization with more experience in Redwood Country,” said Redwood Coast Parks chief Richard Stenger, a former national park ranger spearheading the group. “We work with naturalists, arborists, equestrian experts, representing generations of people who have lived and worked around Redwood National Park.”
Based on a system that includes visitor feedback, visual aesthetics and scientific value, the RCP team ranked the top ten trees in Redwood National and State Parks. Here are the 10 most amazing trees in NorCal:
This monster, one of the most massive trees in the world, with more than 200 trunks and stems, graced the cover and eight-page centerfold of National Geographic in its feature on the super trees of Redwood National & State Parks. Named for the supreme creator in JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth, it resides in the Atlas Grove in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Once the tallest known tree, this retired champion in Redwood National Park could retake the crown someday. It’s the second fastest growing redwood on record. The tree has plenty of elevated company in Tall Trees Grove, a fine-looking forest along Redwood Creek near Orick. Like Nugget, several neighbors are among the world’s ten tallest trees.
3. Corkscrew Tree
This photogenic oddity, featuring four trunks knitted together, poses a botanical mystery. Some think it a cathedral tree with a fairy ring gone wild. Others suspect that several coast redwoods grew around a central tree that later died and decayed. In either case, children of all ages find its twisting nooks irresistible to explore.
4. Klamath Tour Thru Tree
Only three living drive thru trees remain in the world, all along Highway 101 on Northern California’s Redwood Coast. The newest and least visited one offers the most pristine natural setting. It stands atop a small private hill surrounded by Redwood National Park and Yurok tribal lands. And the craftsmen who carved the tree’s cavity avoided essential living wood, safeguarding its health.
5. Stout Tree
The largest redwood in Stout Grove, a forest at the confluence of two rivers in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park south of Crescent City, this venerable giant features distinctive rippled bark and a wooden viewing platform to protect its roots and provide wheelchair access.
6. Big Tree
This old growth giant in Redwood National & State Parks lives up to its name, having a circumference of 68 feet. Estimated at 1,500 years in age, the tree is just off the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway near the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.
7. Sir Isaac Newton Tree
While not the one that dropped an apple on the English physicist, this redwood is a legend in its own right. A former American Forests national points champion and one of the largest recorded redwoods, it’s located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. An unmistakable burl makes it stand out from the Prairie Creek Trail.
8. Horse Goose Pen
Redwood Creek Buckarettes lead horse rides from Orick into the dense old growth forests of Redwood National Park, including to this unusual tree with a large natural cave, a so-called goose pen. The interpretive tours share insights on local wildlife, flora and history, and stop here for an unforgettable selfie.
9. Fountain of Youth Tree
This redwood has a strange spot, maybe a hole into the cambium, from which water constantly flows. It’s in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, named for the former first lady who championed forest preservation, which offers a fine walk on an flat mountaintop loop. An added bonus: The many wild rhododendrons that bloom in late spring and summer.
The tallest of three trillion trees on the planet, Hyperion lords over Redwood National Park from a hidden hillside near Redwood Creek. The Internet tantalizes with location clues, but park rangers keep it secret to discourage foot traffic. Fortunately, the few trekkers who find the 380-footer, named for a Greek titan known as the High One, tend to respect low-impact hiking protocols.