Monsters and Ghosts Await in the Northern Redwoods

Monster tree. Photo courtesy of
Monster tree. Photo courtesy of

Everyone knows you can see the world’s tallest trees in Redwood National & State Parks and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. They are beautiful, inspiring and majestic, right? Not all of them. Hidden in the darkest recesses of both forests lurk some of the creepiest trees on the planet, awaiting those brave enough to disturb them during the Halloween season.

One prime place, in Redwood National Park, 45 minutes north of the town of Eureka, is the Berry Glen Trail, which connects the popular Lady Bird Johnson Grove with the Elk Meadow viewing area on Highway 101. The 3.5-mile path (7 round trip), the newest in the park, reveals some old-growth redwood behemoths that few have ever seen.

Among them are botanical freaks like Scabby Tree, heavily scarred with dripping tumors; the Twisted Snag, a gnarly redwood seemingly warped by a giant’s hand; and the Monster Tree, which resembles nature’s version of Darth Vader’s mask.

Their strange appearances are no accident. The trees in the park are among the most genetically diverse in the entire redwood range, which leads to a striking variety of appearances, whether in color, shape, bark patterns or limb displays, for the normally serene-looking giants.

See a sample along the Berry Glen Trail.

Albino redwood. Photo courtesy of
Albino redwood. Photo courtesy of

Other mutants haunt Humboldt Redwoods State Park about 45 minutes south of Eureka, forest ghosts known as albino redwoods. Few of these rare genetic oddities are known to exist, but at least six of them are in the park.

As the 50,000-acre sanctuary protects many of the tallest redwoods on record, some nearly 370 feet high, it should come as no surprise that it includes many of the tallest known white albinos, which can approach 70 feet.

Their appearance is the result of a genetic deficiency. Lacking chlorophyll, they must depend on a sibling or parent tree for sustenance. Nevertheless they are quite stunning, as their purely white needles seem to glow against the backdrop of the dark forests in which they live.

Normally, albinism is fatal to trees. Albino redwoods, an exception due to the general hardiness of the species, can live for half a century or more. Perhaps the most picturesque specimen is the 30-foot tall Christmas Tree in the Women’s Federation Grove along the Avenue of the Giants.

For more, visit or call 800-346-3482.

Avatar for Richard Stenger

About the author

Richard Stenger is a former park ranger at two California national parks who enjoys promoting the beauty of that state's north coast redwoods.

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One Response to “Monsters and Ghosts Await in the Northern Redwoods”

  1. Luca

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh scary


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