Shrine drive-thru tree in Myers Flat, 90 km south to Eureka, is another of the four drive-thru giant California redwoods. While Chandelier drive-thru tree is entirely man-carved, Shrine drive-thru tree is half natural : it had sometimes in the past been hit by a lightening and a fire that had opened a wide crack at its base and a chimney to the top (second photo). The crack was widened to allow the passage of cars.
Everybody that visits the Redwoods want to have a photo taken with his car under drive-thru redwood ! We followed the tradition ! The Chandelier Tree stands in Leggett, 144 km south to Eureka. It is one of four drive-thru giant California redwoods located near US Highway 101. Though I had bought a full size car in order to use it for the family weekends and vacation, I had no problem to drive under the Chandelier tree since the diameter of the tree is 7 meters, which allows easily a tunnel 1.83 meters wide, carved in 1930.
Highway 101 or Route 101 runs along the Pacific coast from Washington State, Oegon and California; In Central and south California, it is also named El Camino Real (the Royal Way). In North California, it is named the Redwood highway. Indeed, when you drive this part of the 101, you will see innumerous redwoods. I could not help but take some more photos of these impressive giants.
Epiphytic bryophytes grow on redwood only in the wettest areas such as Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Large redwood branches are covered with thick bryophytes mats (cyanolichens, alectorioid lichens, green algal lichens) associated with licorice mats. I have not seen such redwoods but my three photos show the same type of mat but growing on unidentified deciduous trees.
The redwoods once grew on an area of 800,000 hectares. There remains now only 35,000 hectares of this forest and less than 16,000 are protected in several Parks. Several groups work to buy small parts of forest land and once they get enough neighboring parts sell the whole to the State in order to create a new Park. The Sempervirens Fund and the Save the Redwood league are example of this move. Visit their website.
Among the Redwood National and State Parks of the U.S. National Park Service, we can mention :
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
The Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Lilley Redwood Park
The redwood can live 3,000 to 3,500 years. It is most of the time 40 to 60 meters tall but when the climate and the soil fit the best, it can reach 110 meter.
As trees grow or can loose their summit by strong gales, the tallest changes. In 2006, the tallest was named Hyperion and reaches 115,55 meters. It was identified only in 2006 in the Redwood National Park.
15 redwoods are more than 110 meters tall
47 redwoods are more than 105 meters tall
It grows fast when young, slower when aging, which allows its cultivation for lumber producing. Young trees can grow one meter per year.
The redwood was first introduced in Europe in 1840 in Saint Petersbourg by botanists from Fort Ross, a few years later in England and in 1856 in France, where it is now 52 meters tall..
The redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) was discovered in 1769 by the British botanist Archibald Menzies. It grows naturally in a narrow stripe 750 km long and 75 km wide on the lower slopes (from sea level to 900 meters) of western sierras from south Oregon to north California (south to Monterey) as it requires a lot of water. The name Sequoya means opossum in Cherokee
I found that this mural was funny as seems to promote wise forest management. On the left, the Redwoods are figured out (or entering ?) a cornucopia, in the middle an impressive lumberman is happy to have cut all the giant trees while on the right, a group of tiny humans plant small redwoods
The Redwood National and State Parks have been inscribed in 1980 on the Unesco World Heritage List with the following comment (quote)
Redwood National Park comprises a region of coastal mountains bordering the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. It is covered with a magnificent forest of coastal redwood trees, the tallest and most impressive trees in the world. The marine and land life are equally remarkable, in particular the sea lions, the bald eagle and the endangered California brown pelican.
Smokey Bear figure was coined in 1944 to warn about forest wildfires. If you want to know more about the history of Smokey Bear, visit this Pennsylvania website.
It became soon so popular that it has been registered by the US Secretary of Agriculture and is now a Trade Mark. Besides the figure that actually gives the level of fire hazard, there is a whole series of derivate articles on sale : Smokey Bear Gifts, Smokey Bear Wear, Smokey Gear, Smokey Plushes, etc...
You can find them at the website of Smokey Signals.
The Coastal Trail is a state project that is attempting to develop a trail that will lead along the entire coast of California. The trail system will include walks along beaches, foot trails, and paved bicycle paths. In some areas the trail will require you to walk along the shoulder of roads to link to the next off road area. Within Redwoods National and State Park there are 70 miles of almost continual coastal trail that winds past tide pools, along Pacific Coast viewpoints, and through the wild forests. You may take a day hike, or a backpacking trip along the trail. If you wish to spend a number of days hiking this trail, you must pickup a backcountry permit at one of the park visitor centers. There are several access points. The most southern trailhead of the park’s leg of the Coastal Trail begins off of highway 101 north of Orick. The Northern Trailhead is located at the end of Enderts Beach Road.
For more information on the California Coastal Trail visit the www.californiacoastaltrail.info/cms/pages/main/index.html or the web page below.
If driving the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway Road from a south to north direction, make your first stop at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center, and your second stop at the Big Tree Wayside. Big Tree is a very short trail that takes you to a tree that stands about 305 feet tall and is 21 and three-fifths feet in diameter. It is believed to be about 1500 years old. This road runs through the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park of the joint National and State Roosevelt Park, and will take you through old the growth redwood forest. There are a number of hiking trails that come off of the road. You can drive this route as a scenic alternative to driving highway 101, or you can turn the drive into a loop road trip, as Newton B. Drury is a 10 mile strip of road that runs through the state park beginning on the south from highway101, and ending on the north at highway 101.
We spent a few hours toward the end of our trip to drive part of the Bald Hills Road, and walk the easy, short Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Trail.
To reach the Lady Bird Johnson Grove drive two and a half miles down the Bald Hills Road, where you will see the parking lot. The trail is an easy one-mile interpretive walk that loops through the redwoods to a grove where Lady Bird Johnson dedicated Roosevelt National Park in 1968. Be sure to pick up a pamphlet at the trailhead that is numbered to match signs along the trail. This pamphlet was for me, the most interesting part of this walk. Of all the trails this was my least favorite for pure beauty. Our mistake was that this trail is a very good first-introductory trail. By the time we walked this we had already experienced Fern Canyon and Brown Creek, both, which were more beautiful. If we had done this first, instead of toward the end of our stay I would have enjoyed it more. So walk this early in your stay, and then use the information from this walk to enhance your later explorations.
We spotted more elk in the open areas along the Bald Hills Road than we had seen anywhere else in the park. In one open area we counted 32 elk standing in the middle of Redwood Creek. They were all huddled close together and looking toward the shore of the creek. They stood very still for quite a long time, then ran down the creek for a short distance, water splashing about them in a white trail as they went. Eventually they waded ashore and began feeding in a small meadow. We wondered what had caused this strange behavior.
Sun! Glorious sun! Ok I got excited, the day we drove 101 toward Crescent City was the only day we had sun while visiting Redwood National Park. We stopped at Wilson Creek and Crescent Beach, both in the northern section of the park, but both different from each other.
The first, located near Wilson’s Creek was fairly small, with pounding surf, and rocks protruding from the water along the shoreline. The sand was a dark gray, and quite grainy, almost like small polished pebbles. We walked down to the creek which flowed into the ocean, and sat on the beach, where we watched a group of seagulls that arrived, bathed and drank at the mouth of the creek, then rode the surf as if broke around them. They almost looked like they were playing, as they would purposely turn seaward and paddle into the breaking waves. After a time the gulls began to alight on rocks to dry out.
Crescent Beach is a large beach that runs 3.5 miles within the National Park and at least as long along the Crescent City public beach area. This beach had a more gradual drop into the ocean, and did not have large rocks along the shoreline. The sand was also dark gray, but it was finer. The beach sand was very solid, and we did not sink in when walking along the water’s edge. I have been told that during low time, there are tidepools in this area, unfortunately we were not lucky enough to see this. To reach Crescent Beach, take the Enderts Beach Road off of highway 101.
From Crescent Beach, you can continue farther along Enderts Beach Road to the Crescent Beach Overlook. This overlook gives you a wonderful view of the Pacific Ocean, and if it is during the gray whale migration, keep your eyes pealed for whale spouts as they make there way along the California coast. With a pair of binoculars you may be able to observe these wonderful mammals. Endert’s Beach Road is only a 2 mile road one way, and worth the time as it gives you excellent views of the ocean.
Take time to drive the eight mile Coastal Drive, stopping at view points and other places of interest along the way. Besides the beautiful ocean overlooks we walked down to the farm that wasn’t a farm. This is a World War II Radar station that was in place to watch for a feared Japanese invasion along the coast. The two cinderblock structures were disguised in the 1940s to look like a farm house and a barn. From above, you would see shingled roofs and gables on the house. The gables, however, were false add ons for looks only. The disguise was for the upper view from the road or by airplane, and the ocean view, from which you could only see the roofs through the trees, from sea level. The rest of the structure’s walls were cinderblock and windowless. The smaller house structure housed the power supply and the larger barn structure was the operations building where the oscilloscope and radar technicians were housed.
We also stopped at the old Memorial Bridge that was destroyed by flooding in 1964. The only thing left was the entrance, which was very unique. On either side of the entrance to the destroyed bridge was a large, life size cement statue of a bear.
Warning do not drive this road with trailors or RVs. This is a narow, but scenic road that is only partially paved, and has some steep grades and sharp curves.