Deep in the Lost Coast of Northern California, one stand of peculiar redwood trees survived multiple logging efforts that cleared most of the old-growth in the surrounding forest.
Salty ocean air and frequent harsh ocean winds through Shady Dell are thought to have caused these trees to fracture repeatedly but remain alive, and the broken trunks continue growing towards the sky, culminating in the bizarre candelabra-shaped forms we see today. Staff involved in redwood conservation say they’ve never seen redwoods twisted in this fashion anywhere else.
While their unique shapes make them beautiful to behold, it is thought that this is also what enabled them to survive the logging that carried off so much of California’s old-growth redwoods; they were too twisted to be of much use to the lumber mills.
Know Before You Go
The grove is about two hours north of Mendocino, California. The candelabra redwoods are only a short hike from parking at Usal Beach Campground (which is a free, primitive site available on a first-come, first-served basis), but getting to the parking lot requires driving six miles (one-way) along Usal Road, a single-lane unpaved former logging road. It is maintained during the dry season, but is still a rough, primitive road. Four-wheel drive and a high-clearance vehicle is advised. The road can be impassable during wet conditions.
Make sure you are equipped with adequate hiking clothing and footwear, and make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the road!
As with any trip into nature, make sure to pack out yer trash.