The Avenue of the Giants is a 32-mile scenic drive winding around the enormous redwood trees. It stretches from Scotia, California, in the north, to Garberville, California, to the south, paralleling Hwy. 101, the Redwood Coast Highway.
Getting to the campsite
Our first five miles on the Avenue of the Giants were in our 40’ motorhome towing a car. Not for the faint of heart, but the Avenue of the Giants Campground owner had assured me that was the best way to get to the campground. And what a nicely laid-out and kept-up campground it was! All sites were pull-through with a bit of grass, a fire ring and real tables. They also have a store with handmade redwood bowls, tables and other carvings. It is home to the Immortal Tree and a truck built with a redwood log!
The ancient Avenue of the Giants forest
The sheer size and sense of time immortal are awe-inspiring. The forest is a combination of old growth (not logged), ancient (appearance not changed over centuries) and all-aged (new growth, ancient trees, decaying trees and “standing dead snag” together). Only 4 percent of the coastal redwood forest remains.
Trails abound throughout the Avenue of the Giants, ranging from an easy quarter-mile walk to challenging six-mile loops. We stopped several times to take the easiest of the hikes.
Drinking through a 300’ straw!
Redwood seeds are smaller than a grain of rice, the tiny cones are the size of a quarter, and only one in a million seeds have a chance of survival. It is estimated that the highest a redwood could get is 400 feet—getting water to the top is like drinking from a 300-foot straw! Less water gets to the top, meaning smaller leaves, which produce less food.
Many of the trees start as stump sprouts where the trees are joined together. The seeds take advantage of the existing root system of the tree. The redwoods have no tap root, only shallow spread-out roots. These roots connect with other trees to form a strong support system. The fallen trees’ roots are huge and beautiful!
A lot of the trees have burls. These contain dormant growing tissue that can be used in case of emergency and ensure the continuation of the tree.
PLANNING A TRIP TO THE REDWOODS? This book will help guide you.
“Built” to last
They are built to last. The first 12-15 inches of bark contain no flammable resins so they resist fire. They also form a kind of shield internally if damaged, burnt or split, that allows the tree to live. The trees can appear almost hollow and still be alive like the one below. Truly a wonder.
National and State Parks working together
The National and State Parks have joined together to protect and support these giants. The Visitor Center has a movie and fascinating displays as well as a truck made from a redwood log. You can get the National Parks Passport book stamped there, too.
Learn more on the Avenue of the Giants website here.
All photos by Nanci Dixon.