Have you ever stood next to a giant redwood tree?
The experience can only be had along the Northern California coast and into Southern Oregon. In fact, exactly fourteen and a half miles up the Oregon coast, the redwoods abruptly stop. These Giants of the forest grow nowhere else in the world.
The general understanding is 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. This area is known as the redwood belt. Temperatures in this area are moderate year-round. Moisture from heavy winter rains and dense summer fog provide the necessary moisture for these big boys. Incidentally, it’s the only area of the continental United States where you can find a Mediterranean climate.
Unlike the more massive Giant Sequoia Redwood pictured above, the Coast Redwood tree is by far the tallest. They can reach dizzying heights of more than 350 feet. The current tallest is recorded to be 379.1 feet. That’s the equivalent of a thirty-seven-story building.
A single branch can be as thick as 5 feet in diameter.
Typically, coastal redwoods live between 500 to 800 years but some have been known to live as many as 2000. The oldest living redwoods sprouted during the time of the Roman Empire.
Other than its massive height, the most distinguishing characteristic of the coast redwood is its reddish brown bark. A high tannin content is what gives the bark its color. It’s the tannin that protects the bark from fungus disease, pest infestations and periodic fires.
The root system of these trees is relatively shallow. In order to avoid falling during a storm they strengthen this system by spreading their roots very wide and interlock them with the roots of surrounding coast redwood trees.
The main trunk of a coast redwood can be up to twenty-five feet in diameter near its base. The trunk can extend upward from the ground for more than two hundred and fifty feet before the first strong branches emerge and the crown of the tree begins to flare.
In the eighteen-forties, when American settlers arrived in Northern California, the redwood forest amounted to roughly two million acres of virgin, old-growth trees. However, much of those redwood forests were harvested for use as lumber for houses, barns and fences, or for fuel to drive factories during the gold rush years.
Loggers first began cutting down the redwoods by hand with axes and handsaws In the nineteen-twenties and thirties, the introduction of logging machinery such as chainsaws, and Caterpillar tractors vastly increased the speed of logging along the northern coast of California. This marked the beginning of the old-growth redwood forests demise.
Today, a mere 3 to 5 percent of the original trees remain. The oldest redwoods can only be found in county, state, or federal parks.
If you travel further north in California, you’ll find the older, wider and taller trees.
One of the best places to visit these magnificent redwood trees would be the Redwood National State Park system in Humboldt County in California. Nearly half of the remaining redwoods can be found in this park system where you can hike, bike, horseback ride and camp on over 200 miles of trails.
Find out more about visiting these magnificent coastal redwood trees in Humboldt county California by clicking on the link below.
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