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Backpacker Magazine – November 2010

Best Hikes Ever: Redwood Creek Trail, CA

Feeling small among the world's tallest trees.

by: Kelly Bastone

300-foot-high redwoods in tall Trees Grove. (Thomas Hallstein)
300-foot-high redwoods in tall Trees Grove. (Thomas Hallstein)



It’s not usually satisfying to get cut down to size, but let Redwood National Park put you in your place—at the bottom of a 300-foot-tall tree—and we guarantee you’ll be happy with your flea-in-the-universe perspective. That’s what writer Tom Clynes discovered when he bushwhacked through Redwood’s backcountry in search of Hyperion, the world’s tallest and most vexingly top-secret living tree (“Above & Beyond,” May 2007). At 379 feet tall (about 70 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty), Hyperion was identified in 2006, and grows on a steep hillside flanking one of the streams that empty into Redwood Creek. From his lowly position on the ground, Clynes couldn’t be sure whether he’d found the planet’s tallest living organism, but Hyperion grows in good company: Its grove, and others situated along Redwood Creek, are among the most truly breathtaking sights on Earth. Concluded Clynes, “The real object of my quest was all around me, a mass of immortal columns strong and generous enough to support the sky.”

Do it To hike through Hyperion’s neighborhood, hit the Redwood Creek Trail. Few redwoods grow along the banks, but the eight-mile (one-way) hike leads to Tall Trees Grove, home of the Libbey Tree (363 feet high) and other giants. The route winds amidst magically lush forest, and dispersed camping is permitted on Redwood Creek’s gravel bars. Hike 7.5 miles and camp just before or after crossing Redwood Creek; visit Tall Trees, and next day, retrace your steps.

Resources

Driving
From Orick, go north on US 101 1.3 miles; turn right on Bald Hills Rd. Drive .5 mile east, then turn right at the sign for Redwood Creek trailhead.

Map/book
Trails Illustrated Redwood National Park ($12, natgeomaps.com); California’s National Parks: A Day Hiker’s Guide, by John McKinney ($16, wildernesspress.com)

Permit Required (free, pick up at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center).

Contact (707) 464-6101; nps.gov/redw



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READERS COMMENTS

New York City camper
Mar 01, 2012

9 of us from NYC camped there for 4 days. Found the hidden out house off the trail. Experience 30+ Roosevelt Elk walking through camp each morning. Had a full moon that week and could watch the stars and then satellites fly by once the moon was gone. A beautiful creek with uncomprehendible scenery. An amazing place.

Steve
Jan 12, 2012

I don't know what Hyperion looks like, but from the ground, there are plenty of slightly shorter trees that are more amazing than the tallest. There's one in the Tall Trees Grove with a 2nd tree growing out of a burl that's as tall as any tree you see just about anywhere else.

Humboldt Hiker
Mar 04, 2011

Clyne was never certain if he really caught a glimpse of Hyperion.

If he did not, its possible that he was not in the right part of the park. Apparently Hyperion is up or near a Redwood National Park "tributary". And Lost Man Creek on the opposite side of the hill from Lady Bird Johnson Grove is still in Redwood National Park. Not sure why that area is so overlooked. Its very well protected. Bet everybody is looking in the wrong area and that's why nobody every finds it. Amusing thought actually - LOL

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