Attraction of the Week: Trees of Mystery in Northern California
Trees of Mystery is a touristy, yet very entertaining and worthwhile roadside attraction which gives you the opportunity to learn about the beautiful coast redwood trees. Located along picturesque Hwy 101 in Northern California, just 36 miles south of the Oregon border, this quirky roadside stop is the perfect place to take a much needed break from driving.
Trees of Mystery offers a great introduction to redwood trees for first time visitors. The park, which was established in 1931, is located within the Redwood National Park. Here you will find 2 major attractions: a Sky Trail gondola ride which takes you on a scenic ride high up above the redwoods, and a series of interpretative trails where you will learn some new and interesting facts about these incredible ancient trees.
A little background history on Redwood trees…
There are 3 types of redwoods: Coast Redwoods, Giant Sequoias, and Dawn Redwoods. Coast Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world and Giant Sequoias are the largest (by volume). Dawn Redwoods, native to the Hubei province of China, are the smallest of the trees, although they can still reach a height of over 160 feet. The Dawn Redwood was thought to be extinct until it was found in the 1940’s. Today, you can find these beautiful trees planted throughout the US.
While coast redwoods were once believed to be found throughout the world, their natural range is now limited to Coastal Northern California and Southern Oregon. Giant Sequoia trees inhabit the Sierra Nevada Mountains at parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Dawn Redwoods are native to China.
Giant Sequoia vs. Coastal Redwoods
The Giant Sequoia and Coast Redwoods are similar, however, the Sequoia claims the title as largest tree by volume in the world, while the coast redwood is the tallest tree in the world. General Sherman, found in Sequoia National Park, is the largest tree (by volume) in the world with a volume of 52,500 cubic feet. It is also estimated to be over 2500 years old, making it one of the oldest in the world!
The Tallest Trees in the World
Redwood trees can range between 8-20 feet in diameter and grow to be taller than 300 feet. The tallest redwood, the Hyperion, stands a whopping 379 feet within the Redwood National Park in Northern California. The Avenue of Giants, a 31 mile drive along Hwy 101, is another great place to observe an abundance of these giant trees. It is home to some of the tallest Redwoods. It is most famous for the drive thru tree, the Chandelier Tree, a 315 feet tall beauty found in Legett, California. If you are driving anywhere up the coast of California, you must plan time to enjoy the very scenic Avenue of the Giants drive.
Redwoods have been around for 240+ million years and are almost as ancient as dinosaurs. They can live up to 2000 years with the average tree’s age being 500-700 years!
Trees of Mystery is a must-see for anyone traveling along Hwy 101. It’s a great stopping point for anyone planning a scenic road trip up the California coast. This is one attraction you cannot miss. From the road, you will easily see the famous 49 foot tall statue of Paul Bunyan and the 35 foot tall statue of Babe the Blue Ox.
Trees of Mystery Attractions
The Sky Trail
The highlight of a visit to Trees of Mystery is taking a scenic ride in an enclosed tram known as the Sky Trail. You may have taken similar ski chair lift rides in other mountain areas like Lake Tahoe, the Smokies, and so on. This one is even more incredible as you get to look out into the gorgeous redwoods.
Incredible views in every direction!
As you travel 1570 feet up the mountain from the safety of the tram, you will take in gorgeous views of the redwoods beneath you. The journey is only about 8 minutes and goes by pretty quickly, however, it is well worth it for this once in a lifetime experience. At the summit, amazing views await you via the observation deck. This viewpoint offers the most incredible views of the redwoods and possibly some decent views of the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.
The views truly are spectacular so be sure to bring your camera! The ride is relaxing and fun – definitely the most unique way to see the redwoods. Take advantage of this unique, memorable experience, one which doesn’t come by that often!
A series of educational trails to explore during your visit include: the Kingdom of the Trees trail, the Forest Experience trail, the Wilderness trail, and the Trail of Tall Tales. The trails are pretty short and easy, with a combined distance of under 2 miles. The Wilderness Trail is a bit more difficult and will require hiking shoes and exercise apparel, however, it isn’t too difficult for anyone in basic shape.
The Kingdom of Trees trail features coastal redwoods, sitka spruce, and douglas fir. Along the way, there are numerous audio and informational displays for those interested in learning more about the history of these magnificent trees.
The highlight along this trail is the Cathedral tree, a rare sight consisting of 9 living trees coming together to form one. This unique tree draws couples as a most unique wedding destination. Also, there is an Easter celebration held here.
The Upside down tree pictured below is quite a unique sight. This tree forms when a horizontal and vertical tree grow together. Note that there are 2 trunks and 2 root structures.
On the Forest Exploration trail, you will learn more unique facts about redwoods. Highlights along this trail include the Brotherhood Tree and the Towering Inferno. The Brotherhood, at 297 feet, is the tallest tree on-site. Lighting struck the Inferno in 1996, making it quite the unique sight.
The Wilderness Trail is about a mile in length, although pretty easy as it is mostly a downhill trek. Yo can take this down the mountain as opposed to taking the Sky Trail back down. I recommend doing so as you will get to explore more of the beautiful redwoods in a more rustic setting.
Trail of Tall Tales
On the Trail of Tall Tales, you’ll learn about the various adventures of Paul Bunyan. This is a fun, easy trail for anyone looking for an enjoyable, low impact nature walk. Here you’ll also find many random carvings like the bear pictured below. These chainsaw redwood carvings really are amazing and there are dozens to enjoy during your visit.
Note: you can take a shuttle up to the Sky Tram, thus avoiding all trails, however, I really recommend getting out there and exploring the beautiful scenery on your own 2 feet. Only then can you truly appreciate the majesty of these trees. When standing directly in front of these enormous trees, you can really take in their true size.
The End of the Trail Museum
After you enjoy the trails and the gondola ride, you will have the opportunity to explore the End of the Trail Museum. Here you can visit 6 different rooms, each housing various Native American artifacts. Although, the most interesting thing to do at the museum is to read all the different Bigfoot sighting stories submitted over the years. Crazy! If Bigfoot really does exist, the foggy, dreary Northern California region sure seems like it would be an appropriate area. While you are here, you can also purchase your own redwood seeds or mini trees!
Overall, the Trees of Mystery is an excellent road trip stop for anyone traveling up the gorgeous Northern California coast. Take a break, stretch your legs, get in a light workout after sitting in the cars for hours, and enjoy the wonders of the beautiful coastal redwoods.
In addition to Trees of Mystery, there are plenty of other fantastic attractions located along both the PCH and Hwy 101. Check out my Things to do along the PCH article for more ideas for fun on your road trip.
Locations & Admission Information
Trees of Mystery is located at: 15500 US-101, Klamath, CA 95548
Admission is $25 per adult, $23 for seniors, and $13 for kids ages 3-12. The fee includes entry to the museum, the gondola ride, and use of all trails.