An old-growth redwood forest…
One mile north of Orick on Highway 101, there’s a turn-off onto Bald Hills Road. Two and a half miles later we cross under a walking bridge and arrive at a small parking area where creative parking skills and the ignoring of signs pack more cars in than there are spaces available. Luckily our car is small.
We leave Casey and Murph back in the RV because dogs are not allowed on park trails in the redwood forests for several reasons:
- The abundance of poison oak can be an unwanted souvenir brought home on their coat contaminating you, your family, your car, and even home for up to one year.
- Dead salmon along riverbanks can be toxic to dogs.
- Bears and mountain lions see pets as prey.
- Wild animals carry diseases that can be transferred through their feces, and let’s be honest, not many dogs can resist a good poop treat. (Redwood Parks Association)
Fortunately dogs are welcome in campgrounds, picnic areas, public roads, and beaches. Below is a list of pet-friendly walks to take. Most of these are unpaved roads.
The Lady Bird Johnson Grove loops through a place where time is measured in centuries and millennia and takes us to the site where this First Lady dedicated Redwood National Park in 1968. Intensive logging from the1850s destroyed most of these majestic trees to where less than 4% of the old-growth forests remain. (Redwood Parks Association)
Notice the red sorrel and ferns growing in the under-canopy around these mushrooms.
Sempervirens means everlasting and is the scientific name for these coast redwoods, the tallest and longest living trees on our planet. Pictures just can’t capture what it feels like to gaze up in wonder!
These old-growth trees persist because water, wind, fire, and sunlight usher in recurring centuries of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. (Redwood Parks Association)
The tree below displays burls, clusters of bud material laying dormant beneath the bark. Remaining inactive for generations, these sleeping sprouts awake when the tree is stressed by low rainfall or fire, assuring the longevity of the redwood tree. (Redwood Parks Association)
Wildfires can hollow out a redwood. Its thick, insulating bark lacks the flammable resin found in other pines, firs, and spruce. Plus redwood sap is mostly water, slowing down combustion. Fires can burn repeatedly through cracks in the bark but leave the outside growing layers intact. The hollows left behind become shelters for animals. (Redwood Parks Association)
Jeff and I design our “tiny house” within this hollowed out trunk.
Protecting the redwoods
Logged, milled, and shipped elsewhere, the coast redwoods of northern California built the homes and infrastructure of our expanding nation since the middle of the 19th century. In 1918 Save-the-Redwoods League was founded to purchase redwoods and convert the land to public trust. (plaque at dedication site)
Three redwood state parks were established in the 1920s with the League’s effort:
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (plaque at dedication site)
In the early 1960s a renewed effort began to establish a national redwood park. In 1963 a National Geographic survey team discovered several trees taller than any previously known. This ultimately led to the dedication of Redwood National Park in October 1968 by Lady Bird Johnson. (plaque at dedication site)