Tree Ring Analysis of the Pioneer Cabin Tree

The fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree. Photo by Save the Redwoods League
The fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree. Photo by Save the Redwoods League
For those of you that remember the big storms last winter in California, the coast redwoods and giant sequoia definitely felt the impact of the rains and heavy winds. So much so, the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park finally fell.

Pioneer Cabin was one of California’s famous ‘tunnel trees,’ a tourist attraction where visitors were once allowed to drive their cars straight through its trunk. Although we can no longer admire its uniqueness and beauty standing, there’s still so much we can learn from the tree as it lays on the ground.

California State Parks and Save the Redwoods League are collaborating to study the fallen tree to learn about its long life and the environmental changes within the forest over time. We are working with our Redwoods and Climate Change scientist, Allyson Carroll from Humboldt State University, who will examine the tree’s rings to reveal its story.

Looking closely at the tree rings and comparing them to weather data can give us insight into how these trees and forests are responding to different climatic conditions. Tree ring analysis can also reveal age and growth history of the tree as well as fire history for the grove. All of this information can help inform how we care for giant sequoia.

Once complete, the story of the Pioneer Cabin tree and the surrounding sequoia grove will be shared with visitors through interpretive panels and displays at the park.

Learn more about the famous, fallen Pioneer Cabin Tree and the launch of our project to study the tree. And if you haven’t yet seen these massive redwoods in person, you can use these resources to plan your next trip.

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About Deborah Zierten


Deborah joined the League's staff in 2013 as the Education & Interpretation Manager. She brings with her extensive experience teaching science, developing curriculum and connecting kids to the natural world.

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