August 26th, 2013 by
Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is home to many tall trees, though none as tall as Hyperion. Credit: Philippe Vieux-Jeanton

Two very special anniversaries were celebrated over the weekend, and, as fate would have it, they are tied together in a providential way.

It’s been seven years since the discovery of Hyperion, the coast redwood that knocked the Stratosphere Giant from its place as record holder for world’s tallest tree. But its 379.65-foot height is not the only thing that makes Hyperion remarkable. Not only does the tree grow on a steep hillside — not the usual soil-rich creek bottoms that redwoods prefer — but it also grows in the midst of an area that was heavily logged in the 1970s. In fact, a whopping 96 percent of the coast redwoods there had been logged, but somehow, Hyperion survived, hidden away all those years.

And how has this massive tree survived since then? It’s largely thanks to the National Park Service, which coincidentally also celebrated an anniversary over the weekend — its 97th. In 1978, Jimmy Carter signed an expansion of Redwood National Park into law, redrawing the park’s boundary to encompass the area that Hyperion calls home and bringing an end to logging in the area, perhaps just in time for Hyperion.

Hyperion was barely saved from the chainsaw, and today, it continues to be protected not only through the national park land it lives on, but also through the privacy it’s been afforded: The exact location of the tree has never been made public so that, left in peace, it may continue to live to great heights.