May 24th, we drove north to the Humboldt Redwood State Park, to see the Avenue of the Giants, a world famous scenic drive, and the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world, 31 miles, along a portion of Hwy 101. The Avenue of the Giants was part of US Hwy 101 until a freeway bypass was completed in 1960, and it became SR 254. The highway is notable for the Coast Redwoods that overshadow the road and surround the area. The road winds along side the Eel River, the 3rd largest in CA. California’s coast redwoods follow the fog and thrive in continuous belts at elevations below 2,000 feet. Trees can grow to 350 feet tall, with a base diameter of about 20 feet. The oldest coast redwoods are about 2,000 years old and show no signs of dying out. They resist insects, fire and rot to a remarkable degree, an important factor in their longevity. We visited the Humboldt Redwoods Visitor Center and natural history museum and then drove to the Founders Grove to walk amongst the giants. Here we saw the Dyerville Giant, which stood here for as long as 1600 years, was taller and older than any other tree around it. It fell on March 24, 1991, before it fell it was 370 feet tall, 17 feet in diameter, and 52 feet in circumference. Today one can walk along the trunk as it lies on the forest floor.
Redwoods are among the oldest living things. This grove is in the Eel River floodplain and the trees here are considered to be the finest specimens due to the optimum growing conditions. Redwoods live a long time because they have very few enemies. Fire is one of the major threats to all trees. Many of the older trees along this walk are fire scarred. As we walked amongst these giant redwoods we could sense the atmosphere of grandeur in this ancient, or old growth forest.