I crossed the Russian River north on my way to Guerneville and the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, Sonoma County, California.
The reserve is a destination I had always wanted to see. It was set up to preserve the Coast Redwoods in the area, and I wanted to see the scale of the trees with my own eyes; to take in the wonder of these huge trees.
The Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) here cover an area of 805 acres.
The huge evergreen trees being preserved here are Coast Redwoods. These trees are the tallest on earth and are one of the oldest living things on earth.
They can live to well over 2000 years and reach over 380 feet in height.
The Coast Redwood, in the days before logging, would have covered an area of over 2 million acres along the coast of California.
Heavy rains combined with the damp fog during the summer gives it perfect conditions to thrive and grow.
In 1849 they discovered gold in the area and then came the influx of people. Coast Redwood is strong wood and very fire resistant so it became a magnet for use in buildings and infrastructure.
Since 1849, through man alone, 95% of the Coast Redwoods were lost.
The State Reserve
In the 1870s Colonel James Armstrong made this area into a natural park and botanical garden.
His daughter campaigned to preserve the land after his death and to gather more public support.
The county of Sonoma bought it in 1917 and eventually the state of California took control of the area in 1934 and opened it to the public as Armstrong Redwoods State Park in 1936.
The Tallest Tree
The tallest tree in the park is called Parson Jones. It is just over 310 feet (94 m) in height and that doesn’t include the roots.
To put that in perspective it is taller than the Statue of Liberty which is 305 feet 1 inch (93 meters)
It is named after a lumberman who worked with Colonel Armstrong and chose this area to preserve as a natural space. The tree is approximately 1300 years old.
For reference, the tallest tree in the world is also a Coast Redwood called Hyperion. It stands at a towering height of over 380 feet (115m). Hyperion is in Redwood State Park, Humboldt County, California.
The Oldest Tree
The oldest tree in the park is called Colonel Armstrong, named after the man himself.
It is more than 1400 years old.
Within the park there are wonderful walks and nature trails that take you through these majestic trees.
The walks can be climbs and take you up and out, over the top of the canopy of Redwoods and out to fabulous views of the surrounding area. Up here the fog doesn’t linger hence the lack of Redwoods.
The views once high up and through the woods were spectacular. I took a few minutes to recharge my batteries, (the humidity and time change took its toll). Take your time, don’t get out of breath and enjoy the surroundings.
After my brief stop I decided to head back toward the car park. I took a circular route where the paths were easy underfoot and very quiet.
My only surprise was stepping over something that hissed; needless to say I had to look back.
Making sure there was a good distance between us, I reached for my camera and, zooming in I realised just what I stepped over: a rattlesnake!
Like most wildlife, these creatures are not out to harm you. It had just been basking in the sunshine when I came along and disturbed its peace.
That was enough adventure for one day. It was time to head back into the city. I shall always cherish the memory of enjoying these fabulous trees in this beautiful part of California.
We are lucky to still have them.