Interesting Giants Live Among Us on the North Coast
Some of the oldest and largest living beings on the face of the earth live right here in the North Coast region of northern California. I am talking of the beloved Coast Redwoods, also known as Sequoia sempervirens; latin for forever living.
The Redwoods are, of course, one of the biggest draws for visitors to our region. Whether it’s in the iconic Redwood National Park, or via the many associated State Parks. From north to south, there is no better place to experience these majestic giants than right here in the North Coast.
We all know the core basics about Redwood trees, but here are 13 facts that you might not have been aware of:
The Redwood National and State Parks is a partnership comprised of four parks located in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, which contain 45% of the remaining old growth Coast Redwoods:
Over 1.5 million people visit Redwood National and State Parks annually.
There are eight other sites where you can see the majestic Redwood on the North Coast that are not part of the National and State Park partnership, but offer world-class viewing options:
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is also home to the largest remaining contiguous old-growth coastal redwood forest in the world. It’s comprised of over 17,000 acres of forest that has never been logged.
There are 50 Redwood trees over 350 feet tall along the coast of the Pacific.The tallest, named Hyperion (located in a remote part of the forest), stands at 379.9 feet tall. That’s nearly 60 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. More easily accessible is the Stratosphere Giant, the 4th tallest tree in the world (370.5 feet), located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
The world-famous Avenue of the Giants is 31 miles long, providing easy access for all vehicles and plenty of easy-to-navigate trails for those that want to get out of their car.
The first Redwood trees pre-date humans, spiders, and flowers, first appearing over 240 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. In comparison, humans have been around for about 200,000 years. The oldest living Redwood is said to be nearly 2,500 years old. It would have been a seedling during the time of the Roman Empire.
In the summer, the Coast Redwoods depend on fog for life-giving water. The fog condenses on the needles and is absorbed, any leftover water drops to the forest floor. The fog provides the Redwood almost 40 percent of their moisture intake per year. Take a hike on a foggy day, crack open your water bottle, raise a toast, and drink with the giants!
There are around 400 very rare ‘Ghost Redwood’ trees scattered about our North Coast region. These trees, stripped of all color, remove poisons from the soil and receive needed sugars from healthier Coast Redwoods in order to survive.
Redwoods are so immense that they have their own ecosystems living on their large branches. Foliage shed by the trees settles on the branches and decomposes into soil that becomes host to worms, spiders, amphibians, beetles, and crickets.
The largest mammal living among the Redwoods is the Roosevelt Elk, which can measure up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 1,100 pounds. You’ll find these beauties in the Crescent Beach area, Gold Bluffs Beach and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Elk Meadow, Lower Redwood Creek, park lands in the Orick Valley, and the Bald Hills. The Bald Hills herd is by far the largest in parks, numbering around 250 animals. The other herds range in size from approximately 10 to 50 animals.
The bark of the largest Redwoods can be 1 foot thick. This helps make them fire, pest, and fungal resistant.
The pinecone of the Redwood, holding a only a few dozen seeds, is a mere one inch in length, despite its parent’s immense size.
John Kost is the Founder and Board President of the Social Forestry Project, which is a non-profit community organization based in Detroit. They are dedicated to assisting, enhancing and promoting urban forestry and green infrastructure efforts through environmental stewardship, community service, education, and fellowship. John is a passionate forester that annually conducts research for the University of Michigan and is currently working on his certification as an Arborist.