All posts by MarkGWP

Redwoods Hiking August 2019 – Montgomery Woods to Del Norte Redwoods

1       August 2019 Redwoods Trip

 There was a lot of planning put into this trip but time was set aside for fun hikes as well.  My sister Lisa met me on this trip, she is a very knowledgeable outdoorsperson and a strong hiker. We made an interesting duo arriving at hotels and places to buy food, two older middle-aged people with Monongahela twangs wearing dusty trail clothes and hiking backpacks.  There is unfortunately a certain chill toward people looking a little musty and dusty at North Coast businesses.  Anyhow once credit cards and ID were presented people were friendly enough, but not until then.  In the parks. rangers are immediately friendly to everyone.

2       Montgomery Woods Reserve

The first stop was a scenic late afternoon hike around the Montgomery Woods Reserve loop.    This is a great place to get close to tall trail side redwoods and to see tall trees in their full profile. In the late afternoon the green crowns are lit up by the sun while the lower trunks are in the canyon shadows.  It’s a pretty spectacular sight.

Large and tall tree MWSR middle flat
Tall redwood MWSR lower flat
Late afternoon sun lighting crowns in MWSR

3       Humboldt Redwoods State Park

We spent a good deal of time in Humboldt Redwoods exploring the groves along the Eel River and Bull Creek.   A particularly interesting hike was the new Canoe Creek loop on the River Trail.  There are a lot of huckleberry in the fire recovery areas and it is evident bears are enjoying the huckleberries.  Some good blackberries as well. 

Canoe Creek has a flat near the Eel River with some really nice redwoods.

Humboldt Redwoods has a number of trees that are joining the 350+ redwood club.  We used LiDAR data to find one of these new trees.

Pretty area and tall tree on Canoe Creek flats
Decaying roots of fallen redwood along Bull Creek
Scenic grove along Bull Creek
This redwood along the Eel River is now over 350 feet tall

4       Redwood National Park

On another day we did some hiking in the Redwood Creek area.  There was a small group of fledgling raptors on the hunt in Redwood Creek Canyon, looking for fish in the creek from high above.  They were probably bald eagles.  We saw a bunch of college aged trail runners zipping along Redwood Creek trail in groups of two or three, moving so quickly they made a breeze as they went by. 

Nice redwood group above Redwood Creek
Looking across Redwood Creek
Redwood Creek outflow to Pacific Ocean

5       Del Norte Redwoods State Park

In Del Norte Redwoods we hiked the Damnation Creek trail.   This trail goes from 101 (enter and exit southbound), crosses the old Coastal Highway (Coastal Trail), and then winds down to the Pacific.  It is pretty special to see the blue ocean and hear the surf while still high up at the edge of the redwoods.  I didn’t make it down the switchbacks to the beach, but Lisa did.

Coastal Trail at intersection with Damnation Creek Trail
Sitka spruce in fog a few hundred feet lower on the trail (same day)
Ocean at bottom of Damnation Creek Trail. Check the tide tables before accessing.

It was great to see the redwoods again this year.

Thanks for reading.

Tall Trees Grove in Redwood National Park

1       Formation of Tall Trees Grove

There is not much published research on the age of the northern California redwood forests.  Redwood trees have been on Earth for millions of years in various forms.  The coast redwoods that grow along a narrow belt from Big Sur to extreme southern Oregon are a remnant of the ancient redwood populations.  It is thought they were almost wiped out at the peak of the latest ice age, with only a few groves surviving in canyons around Big Sur.  But then as the glaciers retreated, the jet stream and Pacific inflow moisture shifted northward 400 miles.  The redwoods followed, establishing their present range.

From this we know the Tall Trees Grove cannot be more than 12,000 or so years old.  Whether it is 4,000, 8,000, or 10,000 years old, I don’t know and have never seen anything speculating on the age of the forests in Redwood National Park.   Given redwood trees live to 1,000 to 2,000 years of age it can be estimated there have been at most eight generations of redwoods in this grove.

2       Human History of Tall Trees Grove

Native Americans have lived in the Redwood National Park area for several thousand years.  Again, I have not read anything more precise, so from that will go with 10,000 years.  In the most recent times, just before European settlement, about five hundred Native Americans identified as the Chilula tribe lived on the northeast side of redwood creek near the inflow to the Pacific Ocean.  Some of the open berry fields on the first part of Redwood Creek trail going south were probably maintained by the Chilula through controlled fires.  In the summer the Chilula hiked south along Redwood Creek and then through Tall Trees Grove and up a trail to the Bald Hills.  This indicates the trail from the Tall Trees Grove parking area to the Tall Trees Grove is substantially an improved Chilula foot path.

3       Identification of Tall Tree and Establishment of Redwood National Park

In 1963 Paul Zahl and his family spent the summer around Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  Zahl was employed by National Geographic Society and tasked to document the redwood parks and to look for new areas with very tall redwoods.  At some point in 1963, Zahl was sitting on a hill across from the south part of Tall Trees Grove, and noted a very tall tree in the grove.  Surveyors were hired and the tree was measured at 368 feet.  It was on Arcata Redwood Company land.  The president of that company, Howard Libbey, pledged not to cut the grove while plans were being made for the establishment of Redwood National Park.  There was a lot of back and forth as to the location of the park but eventually the Redwood Creek watershed won out and the park was established five years later. 

There is a little bit of intrigue associated with the actual tallest tree in the 1960’s.  Correspondence exits between Paul Zinke (Humboldt Redwoods area researcher) and Rudolf Becking (Redwood National Park area researcher) regarding possibly taller trees at the confluence of Bull Creek and Eel River in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  But it was decided to keep the issue low key to help get Redwood National Park established.  Google “letter from Paul Zinke to Rudolf Becking” and follow the results to see a copy of this 1966 letter.

4       Tall Trees Grove Logistics

It is well documented on the park web sites a certain procedure needs to be followed to access Tall Trees Grove.  The visitor center just south of Orick or the one in Crescent City provide permits to use the Tall Trees Grove access road along with the combination for the locked gate that sits at the entrance of the access road. The access road is a maintained old logging road and heads south from Bald Hills Road just past the Redwood Creek overlook to the Tall Trees Grove parking lot on the hill above Redwood Creek.  Be sure to shut and lock the gate after pulling through and drive the six or so winding miles on the unpaved road at a moderate pace to keep the dust down and the stones out of your wheels. The trail from the hillside parking area down to Tall Trees Grove is not difficult but it is steep coming back up, about 700 feet elevation gain in a little over a mile.  There are five or so rest benches along the trail.

Some people camp along Redwood Creek a short distance from Tall Trees Grove.  If you are doing this let the ranger know when getting your Tall Trees Grove permit, you will then receive a bear proof cannister for your food.  There are a lot of black bears in the Tall Trees Grove area that eat fish, frogs, crustaceans and the bark of young redwoods.  Then there are also mountain lions which follow the deer down to the creek.

5       Tall Trees Grove Itself

Tall Trees Grove itself it not large. The flat with the tallest trees is about 30 acres then there are another 100 or so acres of mixed old growth forest on the hillside. However there is a high density of very tall redwoods. The grove has four of the fifty tallest trees in the world (National Geographic (Nugget), Paul Zahl, Howard Libbey (Tall Tree), and the Redwood Creek Giant.

The grove also has a nice Big Leaf Maple forest right by the creek.  It is possible these maples are in a part of the grove that is subject to flood inundation.

In the summer when the water is low the gravel bars along Redwood Creek can be accessed to provide views of Tall Trees Grove and the surrounding area.  This is the most special and scenic part of seeing Tall Trees Grove.

On the hike up take time to appreciate the hillside forest, noting the large redwoods all along the trail as well as tall Douglas firs higher up.  There is a nice rhododendron bloom on this trail in June. Thanks for reading.

Rhododendron on hill along Tall Trees Grove trail
Hillside Douglas fir fallen over Tall Trees Grove trail
Redwood NP Tall Trees Grove north side from Redwood creek
National Geographic Redwood, a trail side tree in Tall Trees Grove

Increased Atmospheric CO2 Is Increasing the Maximum Height of Old Growth Redwood Trees in Northern California

Note the information and assessments made herein are those of the author.  Some statements of facts and forecasts involve a degree of conjecture.

1       Increase in Atmospheric CO2 Since 1900

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased since 1900 at an increasing rate.   This is due to the burning of fossil fuels to support industrialization, transportation, and home comfort.  Before 1900 the concentration of atmospheric CO2 was about 285 ppm and holding steady.  Now it is 415 ppm, increasing at an increasing rate, and will likely be around 500 ppm by 2050. 

For plants, CO2 provides energy for photosynthesis.  For humans, CO2 is a product of cellular respiration and must be released by breathing.  Increasing CO2 from the background level of 285 ppm up to about 1,000 ppm enables faster plant growth.  This is commonly done in indoor green houses.

However we humans have evolved over the past 200,000 years with CO2 at 285 ppm, now it is much higher.  In the same way increased CO2 supports increased plant growth, it is possible increased CO2 creates adverse issues for human cellular functioning.  Indoor CO2 levels over 1,000 ppm cause people to start to feel drowsy, an indicator of impeded brain function.

Plants:  Carbon dioxide + water + light YIELDS glucose + oxygen + water

Humans and other mammals:    Glucose + oxygen YIELDS carbon dioxide + water

2       Increase in Redwood Tree Growth Rates Since 1950

Studies of tree rings have shown redwood trees in the northern redwood parks have increased their growth rates markedly, especially since 1950.  Tree ring width since 1950 can average 50% per year more than what was experienced on average in the tree’s 1,000 to 2,000 years of life before 1950.

The northern redwood parks have not experienced adverse climate change like the southern redwood parks.  The recent droughts in the Humboldt and Del Norte county redwood parks were not as severe as those further south and there were no major fire events within these parks.   The increased CO2 has not led to substantial adverse climate events in the northern redwood parks and the redwood trees are increasing their growth rates in response to the CO2 increase.

3       Height Changes in very Tall Redwood Trees Since 2000

The increased growth rate in redwood trees is also expressed in increased crown growth, leading to increased tree height. It is documented theoretical tree height is limited to 425 feet or so due to how far ground nutrients can be pulled upward by adhesion versus the effect of gravity. For tall redwood trees this is partially offset by fog absorption but the demonstrated current height limit is 381 feet, with an historic height limit of maybe 400 feet. But for most of their lifespans the tallest redwood trees dealt with CO2 at 285 ppm, now it is 415 and going to 500.  So they may be able to get taller, all other things being equal.

To assess this, here are height changes in the tallest redwood trees by park that were measured somewhere around 2000 and then again somewhere around 2013.  So the height changes are over a 13 year period on average.

If redwood trees were experiencing their maximum heights then it would be expected the tallest trees in 2000 would grow less in the next thirteen years than trees that were a bit shorter. 

For RNP and HRSP this is not the case, the tallest trees grew just as much as other slightly shorter trees during the thirteen year period.   For MWP the tallest trees were suppressed, this is in line with the drought and fire conditions experienced by that redwoods reserve.

Humboldt redwoods 25 tallest trees measured in 2000 and 2013. Ordered left to right by descending height. Note tallest trees continued to grow at rate of less tall trees.

Humboldt Redwoods 93 tallest trees measured in both 2000 and 2013. Ordered left to right by descending height. Note tallest trees continued to grow at rate similar to less tall trees.

Redwood National Park tallest trees mesured in both 2000 and 2013. Ordered left to right by descending height Note tallest trees continued to grow at rate of less tall trees. Also note many current RNP tall trees were unknown in 2000.

Montgomery Woods Reserve tallest trees measured in both 2000 and 2013, ordered left to right by descending height. Note max height has been reached as tallest trees grew less than less tall trees. Park was subject to drought and fire during the 2000-2013 time period.


4       Tallest trees in 2050

It is likely the tallest redwood trees in the northern redwood parks will continue to grow, at an increasing rate, at least to the year 2050.  By 2050 the tallest trees, and the entire redwood canopy, are likely to be six or more feet higher than they are now.

So at least in part of their range, the redwood trees are benefitting from increased CO2.  As for people, the benefits are less certain.

Thanks for reading.

Easy and Scenic Redwoods Hiking – The Great Northern Redwood Parks From South to North

1      Hendy Woods

 Hendy Woods is about 125 miles north of San Francisco.  Do a rest stop in Cloverdale, the driving west on Route 128 is windy and slow for a while, but then things level out when the scenic Anderson Valley is reached.  Hendy Woods is small but has some big and tall redwoods, a few above 340 feet in height.  The loop trails are easy level hiking.

Hendy Woods from Navarro River
Hendy Woods upper loop trail

2      Montgomery Woods Reserve

Montgomery Woods is 30 winding miles north of Hendy Woods.  This is a pretty famous redwood park.  It has a couple trees that are in the top 20 in height among all redwoods.  There is a short hike from the parking lot to the grove that has a pretty good elevation change but is very doable if a measured pace is followed.  The trail is very nice, looping around both sides of the grove and allowing hikers to walk right among the tall trees.

Montgomery Woods Reserve natural earthen dam
Montgomery Woods upper flat

3      Richardson Grove

Richardson Grove is about 100 miles north of Montgomery Woods.  The short drive through this grove along 101 is spectacular.  Slow down and enjoy it.  The tallest redwoods in the park are at the visitor center and are about 340 feet in height, but there are a bunch of big and tall redwoods right along 101.

Richardson Grove visitor center deck trees
Richardson Grove tall redwoods at visitor center

4      Humboldt Redwoods

The heart of Humboldt Redwoods is about 40 miles north of Richardson Grove.  The Founders Grove and nearby Rockefeller Loop have very nice mostly level trails, with a number of trees over 360 feet tall. 

Humboldt Redwoods chaos at Dyerville Giant
Humboldt Redwoods Rockefeller Loop

5      Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is about 100 miles north of Humboldt Redwoods.  The tallest trees in the world grow in the remote Redwood Creek Valley and are 380 feet tall.   However if you want to drive deep into a big redwood forest with easy hiking do the Lost Man Trail.  There are big trees in Lost Man as well as a few over 350 feet tall. Another good Redwood National Park trail near Klamath is up Flint Ridge, it is well constructed and the climb is scenic and gradual.

Redwood National Park Lost Man Trail
Redwood National Park Flint Ridge

6      Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek Redwoods is just north of Redwood National Park and has many trails through fine redwood forests.  The great trail network starts at the visitor center and there are also a lot of trails accessible along Drury Parkway and Cal Barrel Road. Lots of the largest (by volume) redwood trees are in Prairie Creek.  The trails near Prairie Creek are relatively flat and then there are some trails going up the hillsides that have nice gradual ascents.

Prairie Creek Redwoods near visitor center
Prairie Creek Redwoods Irvine Trail

7      Del Norte Redwoods State Park

The heart of Del Norte Redwoods is about 20 miles north of Prairie Creek Redwoods.  There are few trails and they are pretty steep.  The section of the Damnation Creek trail from 101 to the old Coastal Highway is steep but not very long, the climb out is not a problem.  The old Coastal trail at the Damnation creek intersection is very scenic and follows the outline of a big canyon.

Del Norte Redwoods Coastal Trail

8      Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith Redwoods is about 15 miles north of Del Norte Redwoods.  The Boy Scout trail goes from the east to west end of the park.  It has a couple small hills and is about a five mile hike out and back.  It is well worth the time and effort, don’t make a race of it and keep your eyes open for many big redwoods, some right along the trail.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods Boy Scout trail eastern section
Jedediah Smith Redwoods Boy Scout trail western section
Jedediah Smith Redwoods Boy Scout trail western end

Thanks for reading.

Hiking to 44 Grove in Redwood National Park – Redwoods Are Fine but Tan Oaks are Toast

1      Hike to 44 Grove

A 1963 survey of redwoods along Redwood Creek in what would become Redwood National Park five years later determined a tall redwood growing on a flat along Redwood Creek across from 44 Creek outflow was the second tallest tree in the area and a sign was erected at its base.  The tree and sign still exist today, but getting there involves a very steep climb down from the Redwood Creek trail in the 44 creek area followed by a creek crossing or alternatively a series of five creek crossings hiking north from Tall Trees Grove.  In either instance the creek can only be safely crossed when the flow rate is low in mid to late summer.   A few weeks ago I hiked to this flat, called 44 Grove, from Tall Trees Grove.  It was a pleasant hike, the stream crossings were not difficult, only a little over knee high, and the cobbles in the gravel bar got smaller as we headed away from Tall Trees Grove, making the gravel bar walking fairly easy.  It took about 25 minutes to do the one mile hike downstream from Tall Trees Grove to 44 Grove.

2      44 Grove and Harry Cole Redwood

Forty-four Grove is revealed in a spectacular fashion as a bend in the creek is followed.  This grove includes the Harry Cole tree, which was 367 feet tall in 1964 (so the sign says) and identified as the second tallest tree in the area (so the same sign says).  This tree remains about 367 feet tall today, and maybe a little taller based on the measuring I did with a rangefinder.  It has a healthy looking top.

Here are pictures of 44 Grove from the south, Harry Cole is the second tree in from the creek.  Then the remaining pictures show the still standing sign stating “Second Tallest Redwood 367.4 Feet 1964” as well as a couple additional photos of Harry Cole.  There is a huckleberry bush growing on the sign with ripe huckleberries.

44 Grove from south. Harry Cole is second tree in from creek and is 367 feet tall. There are only 15 or so redwoods taller. Note browned out tan oaks bottom right.

Hard to read but sign says “Second Tallest Tree – 367.4 Feet”. Sign erected in 1964. Note huckleberry bush on post.

Harry Cole redwood south side of trunk. DBH is 16 feet.

View of Harry Cole redwood upper trunk and crown.

3      Sudden Oak Death Among Tan Oaks in 44 Creek Area

It was sad to see so many brown dried out dead or dying tan oaks in the 44 Creek area.  There is an interesting Master degree thesis done by a Humboldt State student in 2017 on mitigation and propagation of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in Redwood Creek.  Apparently the area between Bond and 44 Creek and the area around Bridge creek evidenced significant SOD among tan oaks starting a few years ago and mitigation treatments including cutting, establishing a buffer, and wood removal occurred in 2014 and 2015.  This SOD mitigation involved tan oaks and bay laurels (which carry SOD).  The redwoods and other tree species were left alone.  SOD does not affect redwoods.

Then after all this work the SOD still spread downstream to the Emerald Creek area from Bridge creek and also downstream past Bond Creek from 44 Creek.  There are affected tan oaks even north of Elam Creek. Apparently the SOD spores were able to move as much as 1.5 km in a short time due to two causes.  First, the pineapple express late winter storms with strong south winds spread the spores.  Second, the annual rise in the level of Redwood Creek due to winter rains allows the water to flow against low tan oak branches along the creek, and the spores are trapped in branch cavities.

What to do ….. sure it is being debated.  The thesis mentions giant buffers could be cut around the affected areas, 300 meters in width, where non affected tan oaks and bay laurel are removed.  But as also mentioned so much of Redwood Creek would be involved and the work only postpones the inevitable.  It may be the tan oaks will be left to their fate, and they will brown and die along Redwood Creek, all of them.  The same may happen along the feeder creeks, more slowly.

This die off will provide more fuel and any wildfires will burn hotter.  It is thought the older redwoods would tolerate a hot fire without issue but redwoods under two feet in diameter could be killed by such a fire.

Here are some pictures of dying tan oaks seen along Redwood Creek.  If you go to Google Maps “satellite view” you will see a lot of brown in the 44 / Bond and Emerald/Bridge creek areas, those are the dying tan oaks.  Pretty sad.

Redwood Creek just north of Tall Trees Grove. Note brown tan oaks on right bank.

Redwood Creek a little south of 44 creek outflow. Note very unhealthy large tan oak.

North side of Harry Cole redwood. Note SOD affected tan oak to left.

Thanks for reading.

The Ghost Giant

1      Coast Redwoods Over 50,000 Cubic Feet Volume – Ghosts of the Past?

Have you seen the images of the redwood giants of the past, such as the 70,000 cubic foot Crannell Creek Giant?    Or maybe the 393 foot tall Lindsay Creek tree, which is alleged to have been 90,000 cubic feet volume.  Today, living redwoods approach the record heights of the past.  For example the height of Hyperion redwood at 380 feet attains 97% of the 393 foot height stated for the Lindsay Creek tree.  However the largest volume redwood, Spartan aka Grogan’s Fault, with 41.3 thousand cubic feet of volume, is just 60% of the volume of the Crannell Giant, which was accurately measured.  Why is this, why are all the largest of the redwood giants gone?  Or are they?

2      Tall Redwood Surprises

When I was I kid in the late 1960’s I was always interested in superlatives, including the tallest tree.  I remember reading heights for the tallest redwood given as 363 feet or 367 feet.  But right around that time there was an unannounced discovery of a 385 foot redwood growing on a flat along Redwood Creek near the Bond Creek outflow.  This tree was one of the last to be cut down along lower Redwood Creek before the establishment of Redwood National Park in 1968.

Starting around 2000 there was a new round of tall tree discoveries as laser range finders made it easier to identify tall trees. Hyperion and Helios were the new tallest trees found during this period, with heights 2.5% taller than the previously known tallest trees.  Then in the late 2000’s LiDAR aerial surveys were carried out where entire groves could be definitively surveyed for height.  From this came a list of a few dozen unknown redwoods taller than 106 meters in height, but none were taller than Hyperion.

3      Large Volume Redwood Surprises

It is much more difficult to measure the volume of a redwood than its height.  Any tree approximates a tapering cylinder and formulae for types of cones or canonical frustums need to be applied to sections of the tree to determine volume.  On top of this, for the largest redwoods, they are going to be hidden among other smaller redwood trees, with their tops seldom exceeding the 106 meter height used to ground truth LiDAR height measurements.

If you look at the largest redwood lists, it seems to be a list of the largest redwoods by a road or by a trail or along a major tributary such as Prairie Creek, Mill Creek, or Redwood Creek.   Nothing there for redwoods growing along feeder creeks on schist benches with nearby springs.   Some of the tallest redwoods grow up the feeder creeks, why can’t some of the largest redwoods as well?

4      The 50,000 Cubic Feet Ghost Redwood

If there is a 50,000 cubic foot redwood still growing, it is well hidden.  Like some smaller giants it would be maybe 325 feet in height, just a little too low to attract LiDAR height investigation.  It would be away from a road and a trail and a major tributary.  But maybe not too far away.  It would be on a nice dark soil bench, with a seasonal spring close by.  It could be in the big forest south of the old Redwood Creek mill site, or maybe in lower Lost Man.  It could be on the hill above the Atlas Grove in Prairie Creek or maybe in the marbled murrelet wilderness in the same park.  It could be in the Klamath area, or the untrailed tracts of Jedediah Smith Redwoods.

A redwood tree of 50,000 cubic feet volume is not much of a stretch from the current largest known at 41,000 cubic feet.  All you need is an extra six percent or so in both height and diameter to get you that extra twenty percent of volume.  That is how the geometry works.  And that six percent is no more of a stretch than the fact a 385 foot redwood was found along redwood creek at the time when the tallest trees were thought to be around 365 feet.

A 50,000 cubic foot redwood would be a ghost, a reminder of the start of the twentieth century with men in suspenders and derby caps and women in long flowing dresses with rolled up umbrellas posed around giant redwood trunks.  I can picture such a tree, deep in a forest, over 300 feet in height, with a 25 foot diameter at chest height and a 20 foot diameter at 70 feet.  With 26,000 cubic feet of wood in that section alone, and another 26,000 feet in wood above it.  A 52,000 cubic foot redwood, right up there with General Sherman.  This Redwood Ghost would look something like Howland Hill Giant or Sir Isaac Newton, only wider, especially up the trunk.  It would have some big redwoods as neighbors with perhaps some tan oaks, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock sprinkled in, all in a carpet of ferns.

Maybe I have seen this ghost, or maybe it was a dream.   It was not a dream.

Thanks for reading.

Redwoods Hiking June 2018 – Damnation Creek Trail

1      Damnation creek Trail – Upper Section

Del Norte Redwoods State Park is much more than the land of high bluffs, fog, and lane closures between Klamath and Crescent City.  There are some nice redwood groves in this park, with many trees over 300 feet in height.  The Damnation Creek Trail really shows off what the park has to offer.  Parking for this trail is on the west side of US 101 and I strongly suggest entering and exiting the parking area while traveling south as the northbound lanes include a passing lane with very fast traffic. The trail is not associated with Damnation Creek until the very end.  Instead the trail winds down a separate valley just to the south of Damnation Creek valley.

The upper section of the trail has some big diameter trees and nice rhododendron displays in May and June.  Here are a couple pics of the rhododendron on the upper section of this trial.

Rhododendron in late afternoon light

 

Rhododendron and big redwoods

 

2      Damnation Creek Trail – Middle Section to Lower Section

 

There is a remarkable grove with tall redwoods in the middle section of Damnation Creek Trail.  This grove is along and below the intersection of the Damnation Creek Trail with the Coastal Trail.  The redwoods are beautiful but end abruptly at about 500 feet elevation above the ocean where the bluffs get extremely steep.  When near the edge of the redwood habitat the air carries the smell of the ocean, waves can be heard, and the blue ocean peeks through tree trunks and crowns.

Below is a Coastal Trail / old coastal highway road marker for the grove, apparently erected in 1925.  The grove honors Henry Solon Groves – “forester, educator, and administrator”.  This marker is toward the south side of the canyon.

Henry Solon Graves grove marker apparently erected in 1925.

 

The coastal trail circles the entire canyon, and the Damnation Creek trail winds down along the north side.  The redwoods are quite spectacular in the late afternoon, with their lower trunks shading each other but with the tops lit up by the setting western sun.  The view from the tops of these redwoods must be spectacular.

Here are some views of redwoods in this canyon from the Coastal Trail as well as from the Damnation Creek trail below the Coastal Trail.

Redwoods along old coastal highway

 

Tall redwood crowns along Damnation Creek trail below Coastal Trail lit by late afternoon sun

 

Tall redwoods near edge of bluff along Damnation Creek Trail

 

Thanks for reading.

Coast Redwood – Summary of the 2,000 Trees Over 100 Meters in Height

1      Coast Redwood – The 100 Meter Tree

The only known tree species with living 100 meter specimens is the coast redwood.  There are five other species that exceed the 90 meter mark, but at the moment just coast redwoods have 100 meter class trees.

A few months ago I posted some details on 100 meter trees in Humboldt redwoods and from that inferred the total number of 100 meter redwoods in other parks based on some published information on the number of acres in each park capable of supporting 90 meter redwoods.  After further research and analysis, including processing many point cloud data sets, it is evident the number of 100 meter redwoods is around 2,000, not 5,000 as I previously posted.

2      100 Meter Trees in Northern Redwood Parks

 

Using Michael Taylor’s 2013 and 2015 tree height lists, the number of 105 meter trees in each redwood park can be determined with good accuracy.   Then for Humboldt Redwoods I have fairly complete LiDAR sourced information, either through data I processed myself using ArcGIS or via rendered maps.  So I used the association between 100 plus and 105 plus meter trees at Humboldt to estimate 100 plus meter trees in the three northern redwood parks.

This results in the following chart.  I have added the 100 meter tree data from other areas, with the source noted.

So there are 2,000 or so coast redwoods above 100 meters in height (328 feet).

100 Meter Plus Redwoods

 

3      100 Meter vs 100 Yard Redwood Trees

 

There are many, many redwood trees that exceed 100 yards (300 feet) in height.   At least 25,000.  So we have a pretty big drop off from 100 yard redwoods to 100 meter redwoods.  There are special conditions required for redwood trees to reach 100 meters.

For example, this is from NOAA LiDAR of the north tip of Orick Hill.  All the white dots are 300 foot redwoods, there are about 40.  But if this is changed to 100 meters (328 feet), there is only one dot left, and it is halfway up the hill toward the south end of this map.  What about the location of this tree enables it to get to 330 feet, versus everything downstream is between 300 and 330 feet.

Orick Hill NOAA LiDAR 300 foot trees (white dots)

Why this drop off, and what is required for a redwood to grow exceptionally tall?  One very interesting contributor is the ebb and flow of the marine fog layer.  Where the layer persists in the summer, height is suppressed.  Where the layer comes and goes daily in the summer, height is maximized.  Where the layer does not reach in the summer, height is again suppressed.   I will write more about this in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Redwoods Hiking June 2018

1      Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I spent an enjoyable Sunday in early June 2018 looking through the groves along the Avenue of the Giants, including Bolling, Kent, Federation, and Founders Groves.  There were a series of tall trees I wanted to locate in each of these groves and was successful, combining older clues involving groves and tree descriptions with newer information available on Open Topography LiDAR portal.  Finding the trees became a test of GPS navigation and inference, with a bit of range finder height measurements to confirm certain tall trees.

The Bolling Grove sits right by the Avenue.  The area of tall trees is very small, and the trunks are arranged in a pleasant pattern that recalls a sculpture garden.  Three of the four trees in the main grouping are over 100 meters.  Here you can see the rendered LiDAR point cloud data, where purple is 105 meters in height and red is 100 meters in height.

Bolling Grove processed LiDAR point cloud data, red is 100 meters, purple is 105 meters height

Then you can compare the LiDAR with the photo of the tree grouping.  The one in front is 100 meters, then the ones to back left (Bolling Stovepipe) and back right have crown points above 105 meters.

Bollling Grove – a sculptural garden of massive redwoods

 

The grove is dedicated to Colonel Raynal C. Bolling who was killed in action 100 years ago (March 2018) during World War I.

 

A little later in the day I hiked the Founders Grove trails.  There are many great trees all over this grove, with 200 or so trees in the grove over 100 meters in height.

Founders Grove – all purple circles are 100 meter redwoods

Here is one of the tall trees in Founders Grove, aptly named Javelin.  Sure you can see why.

Javelin redwood tree in Founders Grove

 

2      Jedediah Smith Redwoods

 

A few days later in the same week I did some group hikes in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, near Route 199 in the Walker Road area.   There are nice flats in this area with a good number of 100 meter plus redwoods.  I believe this area has the northernmost 100 meter coast redwood trees.

The loop trails along Walker Road are really nice.  The amount of western hemlock is amazing, they grow everywhere on everything.

Here are a couple tall trees in the area, both well above 100 meters.  The bench was built in 1972 as a viewing point to the second tree pictured.  Its trail is no longer maintained but still gets a lot of use.

Tall double spike top at Walker Road and Route 199

 

Tall symmetrical redwood west of Walker Road (John King Fesler Grove)

 

Bench is positioned to view the tall symmetrical redwood. Dedicated in 1972

 

I will post more about this trip later.  Thanks for reading.

Huge Offset Side Branches Serve as Mass Dampers To Help Hyperion Redwood Grow Very Tall Without Wind Breakage

1      Structure of Hyperion Redwood

 

The overall structure of Hyperion redwood is well detailed in this excellent redwoods study (as SESE 49 in Appendix K):

How do tree structure and old age affect growth potential of California redwoods?

Stephen C. Sillett, Robert Van Pelt, Allyson L. Carroll, Russell D. Kramer, Anthony R. Ambrose, D’Arcy Trask

Ecological Monographs 2015 Vol: 85 (2) :181-212.
doi: 10.1890/14-1016.1

I use this study for some reference information but what follows are my own independent analyses and ideas.

Hyperion has a very unusual feature versus other very tall redwoods in the study.  About 30 meters up on the tree there are two huge branches that grow out from the trunk at near 90 degree angles for a couple meters and then turn straight upwards for twenty or so meters.  Both these branches are on the same side of the trunk and together weigh about 5,000 kg.

Hyperion has a volume of 550 cubic meters, of which about 140 cubic meters are above the huge branches growing out from the trunk thirty meters up.  The 140 cubic meters of volume has a total weight of about 55,000 kilograms (based on Hyperion’s total mass of 210 Mg and total volume of 550 cubic meters).

Therefore the upper 85 meters of Hyperion can be viewed as a 55,000 kg object with 5,000 kg of weight offset from but connected to the base.

 

2      Mass Dampers

 

Mass dampers are used in construction and design to help stabilize vibration from external forces.  For example very tall buildings will employ mass dampers to reduce sway so people do not feel sea sick in high winds as the top of the building sways.   Dampers are also used in automotive engines to reduce vibration.

Mass dampers add cost and complexity to structure design, and there is a trade off in materials and methods used in vibration dampening versus actual benefit.

As a result typical mass dampers are set up in a counterbalance system where the damper is about 10 percent of the mass of the object being dampened.  This then reduces vibration at the radial end of the vibrating object by about forty percent.

For more information see Wikipedia article on Tuned mass dampers.

 

3      Hyperion And Its Built In Mass Damper

 

Reviewing the redwood diagrams it is evident Hyperion redwood has very little breakage in its crown for such an old and tall redwood tree (1260 years old, 116 meters height).  There is no breakage in the top part of the crown, this is one reason why Hyperion has its great height.  Great location, great soil, nightly fog, and tucked into a valley for wind protection.

But Hyperion has something else going for it.  Those big side branches 30 meters up, with combined weight at ten percent of the trunk weight above them, serve as tuned mass dampers to reduce crown sway in high winds by about fifty percent.   The unique structure of Hyperion has contributed to wind breakage suppression, allowing Hyperion to grow very tall without interruption.

Thanks for reading.

Looking up Hyperion’s trunk from uphill side.  Hyperion’s large , low side branches are not shown in this photo.