The National Park Service has warned that visitors attempting to see the world’s tallest tree – a 380ft redwood in California’s Redwood National Park – risk a $5,000 (£4,100) fine and six months in jail if caught.
coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, was named Hyperion after the Greek god Titan of celestial light. It is estimated to be around 500 or 600 years old.
The National Park Service mentions on its website that this tree has been “on the wish list of many tree enthusiasts” thanks to its fame, and that its size and secrecy have made it a “frequent destination for tree lovers. thrill seekers, travel bloggers and tree enthusiasts”. ”.
Since 2006, when the tree was “discovered”, Redwood National Park in California has tried to keep its location a secret. But visitors have found ways around it.
Park officials believe that too many visitors to the site could damage the tree as well as the delicate ecology of its surrounding slopes.
“People have the right to come and enjoy their parks. However, our concern is with visitor safety and resource protection. And when we see potential damage, we have to make decisions that protect those things,” said Leonel Arguello, the park’s head of natural resources.
Park officials said that since the tree was located off the trail and in the middle of dense vegetation, reaching it required a lot of heavy “brush” or off-trail hiking.
“The forest around Hyperion has been trampled and damaged by misinformed hikers,” park officials said in a statement. “Redwood roots are incredibly shallow, reaching an average of 12 feet. Soil compaction due to trampling negatively affects these century-old trees.
Officials added that the redwood forest is a “delicate ecosystem” and that off-trail hiking “tramples sensitive understory plants and disrupts the ecology of the redwood forest.”
Garbage and human waste were also found littered across the path to Hyperion, officials said.
“At some point, the crown will explode or another tree will grow faster, and it won’t be the tallest tree. We don’t want to create another official trail that we have to maintain for a tree that probably won’t be the tallest tree in the future,” Arguello said, according to SFGate.
He added a warning: “If anyone were to be injured there, it would be some time before we could reach and extract them. These are all reasons why we play it safe and protect our resources.