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.
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).