Albino Redwood Tree

The instant that I heard that there was such a thing as albino redwood trees, I knew that I was going to have to try to find one to see it for myself. The problem is that finding them isn’t an easy thing to do. Since these trees are so rare, the places where they grow are, for the most part, deeply guarded secrets. And despite the huge contrast in color from the normal redwood trees, they can be very difficult to spot.

The albino redwood (sometimes called the ghost redwood or white redwood) gets its unique white color because it isn’t able to produce chlorophyll. The result is that it has white needles instead of the typical green needles found on most redwood trees.

These ghost redwood trees don’t grow to be very tall. Since they can’t produce chlorophyll on their own and thus lack the ability to do photosynthesis, they have to get all their nutrition from the roots of the redwood tree from which they sprouted. This limits how big that they can grow. Since they must derive all their nutrition from the roots of the main tree, this makes them a parasite. These white redwoods are exceedingly rare — It’s estimated that as few as 25 may exist in the world.

albino redwood tree

I came across this albino redwood at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in California. There are supposed to be several of the ghost redwoods throughout the park, but except for a single one along the Redwood Grove Nature Trail (stop #14), their locations are not publicized to keep people from destroying them.

The one on the Redwood Grove Nature Trail isn’t pure white — the needles have a slight green tint and many of the needle branches contain both green and white needles:

albino redwood tree at Henry Cowell state park

I was able to find another one which was pure white and really stood out, especially with the surrounding green of the other trees. Here are a few photos that I took:

Here is a short video about the albino redwood trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park:

Berry Creek Falls Big Basin Redwoods California State Park

For anyone that visits Big Basin Redwoods state park (California) and has the time, the Berry Creek Falls trail is well worth the time and effort (approx. 10 miles round trip — the park signs estimate it at 6 hours and difficult, but I would say it’s more intermediate for anyone that does a decent amount of hiking and it should take less time. I was able to complete the hike in under 5 hours with a stop for lunch and a lot of photo taking along the way). It’s one of my favorite trails when I head back home to visit my parents, and I have the time to make the hour drive to the park. I recently was able to do the hike, and with all the recent rain in this area, Berry Creek Falls is running with more water than usual making it even more spectacular.

Berry Creek Falls

Big Basin waterfall

Berry Creek Falls top

Fallen Giant Redwood Dynamited At Redwood National Park

What happens when a giant California coastal redwood tree falls in a wind and rain storm? This was the question that the rangers at Redwood National Park had to solve recently when an eight foot diameter redwood fell across the popular Newton P. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The decision? Forget chainsaws and bulldozers — get out the dynamite. That’s exactly what they did, and they hope to have the road opened by the end of this week:

fallen giant redwood tree gets dynamited at Redwoods National Park

While the reopening of the road will be appreciated by those wishing to drive the scenic route, bicyclists and hikers may be a little less enthusiastic. With the tree forcing the closure of the road for about the last month, bicyclists and hikers have been taking the rare opportunity to see Atlas Grove and the Procession of Giants without any vehicle traffic.

Somehow I don’t think the entire dynamite process was quite a spectacular as when National Forest personal decided to use dynamite to blow up a beached whale. Enjoy (thanks Kevin in comments)

Photo courtesy of the NPS. More information can be obtained at

Limekiln Beach Limekiln State Park California

After hiking to Limekiln Falls and to the historic lime kilns, it’s also worthwhile visiting Limekiln State Beach at Limekiln State Park (CA). The beach is at the other end of the parking lot as the hiking trails (easily seen from the parking lot). You cross a small bridge over Limekiln Creek and enter the Limekiln beach campground. The Limekiln beach is at the far end of the campground just beyond a huge bridge that carries cars across the Limekiln Canyon on highway 1:

Limekiln beach campground at Limekiln State Beach California

Although it would seem that the beach would be quite noisy with the highway bridge right above, that is not really the case. The bridge is high enough that there is very little car noise on the beach. When I visited, someone has set up a small love seat directly next to one of the bridge support columns:

Loveseat at Limekiln State Beach

That provided a wonderful view of Limekiln Beach when sitting on it:

the view of Limekiln Beach from loveseat

Limekiln Beach itself is pretty interesting. On the left side, Limekiln Creek empties into the ocean bringing down a rocky bed of stones and boulders to the sea:

Limekiln Creek emptying into the ocean at Limekiln beach

To the right is a the beach, although it is littered with large stones that have been swept down the creek in the past:

With the campgrounds nearby, there were plenty of kids and families enjoying the beach and the creek. I would imagine that it would be a wonderful place for families to camp giving everyone plenty of choices of how to spend the day depending on what they enjoyed doing most. If interested, here are some more photos of Limekiln State Park. Unfortunately, Limekiln State Park is on the list of California State parks to close.

Manzanita Tree Mount Diablo State Park California

I am far from an expert photographer, but I do enjoy taking photos when I am wandering national and state parks. Every once in awhile I take a photo that I do like that seems to stand out from the rest. This is a photo I took at Mount Diablo State Park (CA) of a Manzanita tree.

Manzanita tree at Mount Diablo state park in California

There are plenty of Manzanita trees at Mount Diablo and the way that their trunks curve and twist allow you to get some fun and interesting photos of them. I think I could have probably spent an entire afternoon simply searching for cool looking Manzanita trees to photograph.

Lime Kilns Limekiln State Park California

In addition to seeing Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park (CA), hiking to the historic lime kilns is also a must. It’s pretty strange seeing these huge iron and stone furnaces in the middle of a redwood forest where they look so completely out of place:

lime kilns at Limekiln State Park California

According to the Limekiln State Park brochure:

Beginning in 1887, the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company extracted, processed and exported thousands of barrels of lime from Limekiln Canyon. Four stone and iron furnaces were built at the base of a large talus slope eroding from the limestone deposit. Limestone rocks were loaded into the kilns, where very hot wood fires burned for long periods to purify lime.

The lime was packed into barrels, hauled by wagon to Rockland Landing on the coast and loaded onto ships that carried it to northern ports for use in concrete.

After only 3 years, the limestone deposit was depleted, as was the redwood forest that had been nearly clear-cut to use for lumber and fuel.

Today the four kilns, some stone walls and bridge abutments are the only remains of the thriving lime industry that existed here.

lime kilns in redwood forest

To get to the historic lime kilns, you follow the same directions as to Limekiln Falls, but take the fork to the left and remain on Limekiln Trail instead of right onto Falls Trail. The trail is quite easy without the obstacles that Falls Trail has, and the scenery is quite beautiful as you hike along West Fork Creek:

West Fork Creek Limekiln State Park California

If interested, here are some more photos of Limekiln State Park. Unfortunately, Limekiln State park is on the list of California State parks to close.

Limekiln Falls Limekiln State Park

I always love when I come across the unexpected. As I was traveling highway 1 down the coast of California, I heard that it would be worthwhile stopping at Limekiln State Park (CA) to see the waterfall that they had there. I enjoy waterfalls and think that they have a mysterious beauty in themselves so it was a no brainer that I would make the stop, but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful Limekiln Falls actually is.

There isn’t much parking at Limekiln State Park (maybe 20 spaces total outside of the camping area) as it is mainly a place set aside for those camping. To get to the Limekiln Trail (which will lead to Falls Trail), you park your car and head toward the bathrooms at the end of the parking lot. As you pass the bathrooms, you’ll get a see of all the dangers that you could face on the trail.

hiking warning signs displayed at Limekiln State Park

Once past the bathrooms, you need to walk through the camp ground to the far end where the Limekiln Trail Head is located. Once on the trail, it will fork about 200 yards in with Hare Creek Trail to the right and Limekiln Trail to the left following Limekiln Creek:

Limekiln Creek at Limekiln State Park California

The trail is shaded and cool with huge clovers covering the ground in many areas:

giant clovers at Limekiln State Park California

Stay to the left at the fork on Limekiln Trail and about 1/4 of a mile further on the trail will fork again with Limekiln Trail to the left and Falls Trail to the right. Stay right. Once you reach this fork, it’s about another half mile to the falls (about 1 mile in total).

The Falls Trail has some obstacles, but most people should be able to manage it. There are several places where you must cross Limekiln Creek. Fallen branches and logs have been placed down at these crossings, but it does require a bit of balance if you don’t want to fall into the water:

Creek crossing Limekiln Creek California

There are also several places where fallen trees have blocked the trail and you must scramble under or over them to remain on the trail:

fallen tree across Falls Trail at Limekiln State Park

Once you reach Limekiln Falls, I immediately realised why people recommended to place it on the lists of places to see. The waterfall fans out and much of it cascades down mossy vegetation in the center of the falls. It reminded me a bit of the waterfalls in Fern Canyon at Redwood National Park, but on a much larger scale (it’s about 100 feet in height) and with the sun making everything sparkle:

Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park California

close-up of Limekiln Falls at Limekiln State Park

If you happen to being driving the coast of California, it’s definitely worthwhile making a stop to see this waterfall. If interested, here are some more photos of Limekiln State Park. Unfortunately, Limekiln State park is on the list of California State parks to close.

Natural Bridge at Natural Bridges State Beach California

If you are looking for a beach that has more than just sand, Natural Bridges State Beach (CA) is an excellent choice. In addition to Sandy Beach and the Natural Bridge, the beach also has wonderful tide-pools to explore during low tide and is home to one of the largest monarch butterfly over-wintering sites in the Western United States. The beach was named after three natural bridges that extended out into the ocean — now only one remains:

natural bridge at Natural Bridges State Park in California

Waves crashing through Natural Bridge at Natural Bridges State Beach in California

In the early 1900s, three arches carved by nature out of a mudstone cliff inspired the naming of Natural Bridges.

The arches were formed millions of years ago when water, silt and clay sediment combined with one-cell marine plants called diatoms. Heat and pressure solidified the mixture into a soft stone that formed the three arches.

Wave action against the soft rock formed the bridges and also undercut them, eventually wearing them away and leaving only islands. The outermost arch fell in the early part of the 20th century and the inner arch broke during a storm in 1980. Only the middle arch remains, but it is being slowly eroded by the waves.

With the last remaining bridge now fully cut off from the coast, it’s part of the California Coastal National Monument.

Natural Bridges formation at Natural Bridges State Beach in California

I arrived at high tide, so I was not able to explore the tide-pools. I have on other occasions in the past and they are quite interesting and an excellent place to take kids with quite a bit of tide-pool life to see.

The park rangers offer year round guided nature walks on such topics as wildflowers, birds and wetland explorations.

The monarch butterfly natural preserve walkway is currently being worked on, but should be ready when the monarch butterflies return in winter. Monarch butterfly tours are offered at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on weekends in the fall and winter. The park also offers two special events related to the monarch butterflies: Welcome Back Monarch Day is on the second Sunday in October from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and The Monarch Migration Festival is the second Saturday in February from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Stout Grove Redwood National Park

For anyone that is in the Crescent City, CA area, a visit to Stout Grove is well worth the time and effort. This 1/3 mile loop in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (CA — part of Redwood National Park) is a wonderful walk under 300 foot redwoods with lush ferns covering the ground which will take your breath away as you look toward the sky to see if you can see the tops.

Stout Grove redwood trees at Redwood National Park

a look up at 300 foot redwood trees at Redwood National Park

More Photos from Stout Grove hike

A placard at the beginning of the trail gives a brief explanation on how this redwood grove came to be:

Stout Memorial Grove

Stout Grove, a majestic example of an ancient coast redwood forest, is often considered to be the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. In 1929, Mrs. Clara Stout donated this 44-acre grove to the Save-the-Redwoods League to save it from being logged and to memorialize her husband, lumber baron Frank D. Stout. Today, land continues to be added to these northernmost parks through the efforts of the League.

A walk along this loop trail reveals colossal redwoods thriving in rich soil deposited during periodic flooding of the Smith River. Here, waist-high sword ferns carpet the forest floor and normally flared tree bases are covered in river soils. Flood waters inhibit the growth of understory trees and plants seen in other groves, leaving the 300-foot redwoods as the main attraction

Here is a short video clip as I walked a portion of the Stout Grove loop:

Directions: Drive east on Highway 199 and turn right on South Fork Road (about 2 miles past the National Parks Visitors center). Continue .5 miles across 2 bridges — at the “Y” in the road, turn right onto Douglas Park Road. Continue until the pavement ends at which point the road changes to Howland Hill. Continue approximately 1 mile on the gravel road to a paved road on the right — park in the lot and walk down the ramp to the 1/3 mile loop hike.

Dry Lagoon Humboldt Lagoons State Park California

If you are into large driftwood scenery or photography, Dry Lagoon beach in Humboldt State Park (CA) is a place you want to check out. Located off of highway 101 between Trindad and Orick, there is a one lane road that leads down to a beach parking lot. While most people probably head straight for the waves, it’s the area deeper in that caught my eye. Between a lagoon filled with reeds and the sandy-pebble beach is a a wide stretch of plant life including a large number of wildflowers:

flowers  bloom at Dry Lagoon in Humboldt Lagoons State Park California

Even better than the wildflowers, are the large redwood tree driftwood logs that have settled into the sand which gives the area an other-worldliness look:

Large logs scattered about at Dry Lagoon in Humboldt Lagoons State Park California

The beach itself is a combination of sand and pebbles / small rocks. Like at Agate Beach, there were a number of people combing through the sea rocks and collecting their favorites.

Dry Lagoon Beach at Humboldt Lagoons State Park California

This beach is a nice photography beach, especially those that love driftwood:

Large driftwood log at Humboldt Lagoons State Park in California