Out in Tuolumne County, near the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River, is a Western juniper tree known as the Bennett Juniper. It is estimated to be somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 years old, and some botanists think it may be the oldest tree on the planet. Core samples indicate that it could even older than 6,000 years.
The wildlife that lives in and on the tree is plentiful. There’s even a marmot that lives inside the tree and drags out pieces of dead wood occasionally — one of those wood bits was carbon dated and found to be around 2,000 years old!
With a radius of 7 feet 2 inches and a height of 82 feet, the Bennett Juniper is quite large! As you can see in the photo, our property caretaker is standing to the right of the tree, and he looks really small. The property is adjacent to Stanislaus National Forest, and is open to the public starting around mid-June for people to view the tree and talk with our knowledgeable caretaker, Ken.
At only 3.5 acres, this is one of the smaller properties the League owns, but it still involves stewardship. Because this tree is so special, our caretaker, Ken, camps nearby in the summer months and has become a great educator and ambassador for the tree and the surrounding area. See him talking about the tree in this video.
Want to learn more about the magnificent tree and plan a visit to see it in person? Check out the League’s Bennett Juniper webpage for more information and for directions on how to get there!