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Hiking in California's Redwoods

06.27.17

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Hiking in California's Redwoods

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  • Crowd at the Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods National Monument.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • A visitor to the Peterson Memorial Trail is dwarfed by a fallen tree. - Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Leiffer and Ellsworth Loop Trails.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Big Basin State Park museum.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Colonel Armstrong Tree, named for the lumberman who saved the grove.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Redwoods dwarfing cars.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Stout Memorial Grove. Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Sunlight shines through the canopy. Stout Memorial Grove.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) tower over the upper Damnation Creek Trail. - Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Damnation Creek Trail.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Standing inside a fallen redwood.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
  • Sprig Lake Trail.- Hiking in California's Redwoods
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Team

Visiting California's redwoods on a hike or a quick tour is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to get to know the Sequoia sempervirens. This moisture-loving species thrives on the Pacific systems that bring fog and rain to the Northern California Coast; while the tallest tree in the world is a 379-foot California redwood, even a moderately sized 200-foot tree can be thought of as a living reservoir that holds more than 15 tons of water. That may sound like a lot, but it's really just a fraction of an overall biomass that can easily exceed 400 tons for larger specimens.

The trick for encountering these giants is to balance these staggering statistics with a firsthand experience. It's one thing to understand that the bark is fire resistant, but it's quite another to feel creases in the bark that are wrist deep. You may know these 2,000-year-old trees are the tallest on earth, but you'll feel that fact as you watch the tree tops swaying in breezes that swirl hundreds of feet off of the ground. Smelling the forest loam, measuring the quality of light in a dense grove, and disrupting your sense of proportion by standing right up next to one of these giants: these are some of the best strategies for starting a redwood relationship.

California redwoods can be enjoyed in a variety of locations, leaving visitors plenty of options depending on mobility, time, or a tolerance for crowds and infrastructure. We've collected some of our favorite spots to admire these trees, and these suggestions run the gamut from relatively unknown corners of the woods to more famous stretches that are worth a stop. You can find more suggestions for redwood hikes and points of interest with a quick map search with filters on Northern California's coastal regions, or simply type "redwoods" into Outdoor Project's keyword search.

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