Walking Among Giants: Giant Redwoods

Nature Facts

Where: Muir Woods nr San Francisco, California, USA
Facts: The world’s tallest living things, trees growing up to 400ft tall
Famed for: Anti-rot properties, making the live of the trees a battle between conservation and economy
Best Sight: Walking or even driving your car through a hollow giant

Where It’s At

By far the largest living things on land, the Giant Redwood, or Sequoia tree, is to the earth what the whale is to the sea. California’s unique coastal climate of fog and rain helps these enormous trees grow to almost 400 feet, and though they covered larger territories in the past, the last Ice Age pushed the groves toward the sea where the temperate climate limited the ice coverage.

Their outer bark is of a unique fibrous and tough texture that give’s these forests a unique earthy smell. They are highly fire resistent and the seeds actually need fires to pry them open and begin germination.

While most trees are around 200 feet tall, the tops of the very tallest ones cannot even be seen from the ground; its said that the largest trees need more that 15 people linked arm in arm to circle the redwood’s base. Some trees, through ancient forest fires, have hollow bases that you can walk, and even drive, through.

Man Vs Nature

Nothing could shelter these trees from the explosion in California’s modern population, from the Gold Rush to the current technology boom, that demanded cheap timber and wood to construct the hundreds of thousands of houses all over the Golden State.

Long prized for its anti-rot properties, Redwood is one of the most expensive woods around and that has fueled the current desire to log these trees remains. Today an intense environmental debate has raged between traditional logging communities who want to protect their way of life, and environmentalists who want to save the unique species that call the redwood ecosystem home. It’s a battle where people have been killed and intimidated and activitists have often chained themselves to trees or even lived in one to promote their cause.

Visiting the Trees

While Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco, is a good place to walk among these giants, there are pockets of surviving trees up the California Coast to Oregon and beyond. Camping is possible in places like Yosemite, Big Basin (near Santa Cruz) and Big Sur, where you can spend time among these towering trees.



Trees of Mystery
Visitor information site for Muir Woods.

Save The Redwoods
Preserving the Redwoods for nearly a century by buying Redwood land