Tips to Establishing a Forest-Friendly Garden

by American Forests

By Lindsay Seventko, Communications Intern

backyard gardenMany forest lovers also enjoy nurturing a summer garden, but the two interests often remain distinctly separate. Establishing a sizeable garden typically requires large open areas, which sometimes means clearing the backyard trees to make room. If you’ve been wanting to start or expand your garden without cutting down any trees, use these tips to begin growing luscious ferns, colorful perennials and delicious fresh veggies and herbs, all under the shade of your forested backyard.

Getting Started

Growing close to or under a large, established tree requires hardy plants that do well in shade, that won’t overly compete with the tree for water or nutrients. Most trees, despite how deep their roots may stretch into the earth, still have feeder roots that spread out within the top 1 ½ feet of soil. Thus, digging a deep hole may disturb them. Conversely, spreading thick, additional layers of topsoil, compost or mulch may smother the tree’s roots, not allowing them to receive sufficient amounts of oxygen. Therefore, the section closest to the trunk of the tree should consist of the most shade-tolerant plants that grow in your zone, that ideally are planted while still seedlings.

Be sure to note if your backyard contains black walnut trees and avoid planting under them altogether, as they contain compounds that will poison your plants.

Creating a Barrier

Find the most ornamental and shade-tolerant plants that grow in your zone — think decorative evergreen ferns, shade-tolerant hostas, rhododendrons, ivies and other ground covers — and plant them while still young and small in shallow, lightly compost-lined holes. The number of barrier plants needed will vary based on the species of tree you’re planting under. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker the shade, the wider the section of hardy plants should be between the trunk and more sun-loving flowers or vegetables. Mature pine trees will require very drought-, shade- and acid-tolerant plants under a wide radius of their cover, while oaks will offer more speckled areas of sunshine and absorb less water from the soil, allowing for perennials and vegetables to be planted nearly up to their trunk.

Planting Your Veggies

Once you’ve established some ornamental hardy plants closest to the tree in the driest and most shaded areas, you can begin establishing a vegetable garden that will thrive in partial shade. Root and stalk veggies will do well, such as celery, leeks, onions, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, rutabagas and most herbs. Lettuces, kale, spinach and other leafy vegetables will also succeed. Remember to water more liberally than you would in a traditional garden, and regularly supplement the soil with thin layers of rich compost.

Any central patches of direct sunlight should be saved for vegetables that grow out of a flower, such as tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant. Intermix the veggies in different patterns; by not planting them in distinct rows, the soil quality will improve and the aesthetic will be of a bounteous wild forest.

Showing off your Garden!

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5 National Forest Road Trips to Add to Your Bucket List

by American Forests

By Lindsay Seventko, Communications Intern

Pack the car and make a new playlist for these five breathtaking drives through National Forests. With drastically diverse scenery from cacti and petroglyphs to Robert Frost’s mountainous muse, you’ll want to see more of these National Forests than you could by foot or by paddle. Get ready to explore these unique areas by car — but be sure to allow time to stop, relax and take in the beautiful scenery.

1. Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway — Gila National Forest, New Mexico
You won’t be bored driving through this National Forest in New Mexico, with dramatically varied terrain and ecosystems, and combining millennia of history with stark reminders of modern activity. The drive begins in an old mining town that boomed in the late 19th century with the discovery of silver, and later of gold. As the scenic drive begins, it climbs through the lush aspens and Douglas-firs before dropping to semi-arid lowlands full of junipers and cacti. Ponderosa pines and cottonwood dot the side of the road up to a breathtaking vista overlooking the Gila River canyon and wilderness. After taking in the sights, traverse back down along the road to explore Pueblo Indian cliff dwellings dating back to the 13th century. A brief break from driving to walk on a trail will reveal ancient petroglyphs, stunning scenery and possibly one of the 10 species of hummingbird that make the National Forest their home. Be sure to also explore the nearby overlook of one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world, as well as the City of Rocks State Park that boasts volcanic rocks dating back 34 million years.

Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Gila Cliff Dwellings. Credit: John Fowler via Flickr.

2. Highway 143 — Dixie National Forest, Utah
Known as the patchwork trail to historians, Highway 143 originated with early pioneers struggling to get food and supplies during a hard winter. The deep snow could only be walked on by laying a quilt down and walking on top of it. Today, this route traverses through six major life zones in an array of differing views. Known for its rainbow of colors experienced on the 51 mile route, the road climbs to 10,400 feet at the top of the “Grand Staircase” formation and dips back down through thick aspen forests and unique geological formations, with distant views of pink cliffs and ancient lava fields.

Dixie National Forest.

Dixie National Forest. Credit: RichieBpics via Flickr.

3. Mountain Waters Scenic Byway — Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina

In this national forest, dense canopies only allow sunlight to reach the ground at noonday, inspiring the forest’s Cherokee name, Nantahala, meaning “land of the noon day sun.” Winding up the Cullasaja River Gorge, the Mountain Waters scenic byway is laced with cascading waterfalls and tranquil pools that line the route, offering pristine places to stop and wander down forested trails, picnic beside rushing rivers and cast a line in the water for rainbow and brook trout.

Cullasaja River Gorge

Cullasaja River Gorge. Credit: Frank Kehren via Flickr.

4. White Mountain National Trail — White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire

The White Mountains in New Hampshire are home to some of the most inspiring forests in the United States — they were Robert Frost’s muse, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s retreat and Thomas Cole’s favorite subject. Explore this National Forest via a 100-mile loop of scenic byway, traversing across 800,000 acres of rugged mountain scenery, over three historic notches, under seven covered bridges and along many roadside waterfalls.

White Mountain National Forest.

White Mountain National Forest. Credit: Mattia Panciroli via Flickr.

5. Crooked Creek Pass — White River National Forest, Colorado

If you want a solitary, windows down retreat, Crooked Creek Pass Road (and its side roads!) is the place to explore. Off the beaten path of paved, populated national byways, this road ventures across the heart of White River National Forest, revealing breathtaking vistas alongside rivers and climbing ridgelines shaded by towering pines. Unlike most scenic drives, the Crooked Creek Pass, and connecting roads, are mostly unpaved red dirt roads, offering an opportunity to get out and explore less traveled wilderness areas. Traversing the area presents a greater probability of seeing wildlife — bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk and possibly the elusive lynx.

Hat Creek Road, Crooked Creek Pass.

Hat Creek Road, Crooked Creek Pass. Credit: Bryce Bradford via Flickr.


Forest Digest — Week of June 27, 2016

by American Forests

Find out the latest in forest news in this week’s Forest Digest!

Zhangjiajie National Forest.

Zhangjiajie National Forest. Credit: chensiyuan/Wikimedia Commons.


Meet Our New Manager of Forest Conservation

by American Forests

Justin HynickaJustin Hynicka recently came to American Forests as our new manager of forest conservation. We’re excited for the experience, knowledge and new ideas he is bringing to the position and the organization — and we think you should be excited, too! From why he’s looking forward to helping further the American Forests’ mission to his favorite story from the field, read more about Justin.

  • Why did you choose to go into conservation?
    I chose a career in forest conservation because of my love for the outdoors. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the mountains throughout the continental United States, and as a recreational user of these areas, I felt compelled to help protect and restore them. I also studied ecosystem science as an undergraduate and graduate student. Forests are such interesting and beautiful places, and the more I learn about them the more excited I am to be working on their behalf.
  • What aspects of American Forests’ work are you most excited to be a part of?
    I’m most excited to build partnerships with regional and local experts and forest advocates, to continue learning about the wide variety of forest ecosystem types around the world and how they function and, ultimately, contribute to their restoration, management and protection.
  • What do you think are the most significant challenges facing forests today?
    Although deforestation is an ever present threat, maintaining forest health is a significant challenge due to the introduction of exotic pests, disease and climate change, among other factors. Fortunately, the decisions and investments we make in forest restoration and management today will have lasting benefits for future generations of people and wildlife.
  • Do you have a favorite story from your years in the field?
    So far, my favorite trip in the field was a seven-day backpacking trip with a college friend in the Wind River Range, Wyo. It is quite the slog to the high-elevation lakes, but once you get there the scenery is spectacular. The lakes are cold, crystal clear and full of brook trout that were originally dropped into the lakes by plane during the 1920s and ‘30s to improve recreational fishing. Moose are abundant, and we saw several either crossing streams or gorging on herbaceous plants in wetlands. The highlight was camping near the Cirque of the Towers, which is a collection of sheer granite mountain peaks. The low point of the trip was a dead car battery (overhead light left on by yours truly) upon our return.
  • What is your favorite tree and why?
    I have a few, but if I can only choose one, it has to be the American larch / tamarack (Larix laricina). It is unique because it is a deciduous conifer, which means that it has cones and needle-like leaves, like Christmas trees, but it has to regrow its leaves every year. When the leaves die in the fall, they turn bright yellow, and the new leaves in the spring are neon green. Also, who doesn’t love the circular pattern that the leaves grow in? The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in eastern Oregon is a great place to see the American larch. A very close second is the shagbark hickory (Carya ovata).

A Guide to Forest-Friendly Summer Vacationing

by American Forests

By Lindsay Seventko, Communications Intern

skywalkSummer is here — the time to dive in sun-warmed water, to share strawberries piled high on shortcake and cream and to walk in the shade of a breathtaking forest. As you prepare for your summer getaway, keep in mind these tips on vacationing in a forest friendly way.

Picking Your Destination

Whether you prefer to relax on an isolated beach, explore the culture and nightlife of a city or cool off by a mountain lake, a little digging can reveal more sustainable alternatives to the typical destination that will also allow you to explore some of the most beautiful forests in the world.

  • Bald Head Island, North Carolina
    For example, if you prefer a beach getaway, consider Bald Head Island, the southernmost of North Carolina’s cape islands. Accessed by ferry, the island requires biking, walking, or golf-carting to traverse. This not only saves carbon emissions while getting around, but also aids in relaxation and lets you explore the 10,000 acres of nature preserves on the island. Beaches stretch for 14 miles, a tidal creek winds through the salt marsh and a lush maritime forest stretches across the northeastern section of the island. Miles of trails serpentine among dogwoods, cedars, oaks and palms. American and Yaupon holly, wild olive and catbrier entangle beneath the canopy. Home to painted buntings, cardinals, and Carolina wrens, the forest also shelters migratory birds in the fall, including blue jays, catbirds, towhees, and twenty-two species of warblers. Sea turtles, foxes, otters and even alligators abound on the island.
Bald Head Island.

Bald Head Island. Credit: Richard Ricciardi via Flickr.

  • Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
    If a tropical and exotic location is more your style, consider Lapa Rios in Costa Rica. While tourism in the rainforest usually means supporting unsustainable practices that harm the forest, the Lapa Rios ecolodge is a private 1,000-acre nature preserve that protects virgin rainforest from deforestation and serves as a model of sustainable ecotourism. The preserve is home to the nearly extinct Sangrillo Colorado tree, as well as jaguars, monkeys, poison dart frogs and toucans. Accommodations include screened, open air bungalows that immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of the breathtaking rainforest.
Banff National Park.

Banff National Park. Credit: Shane Lin via Flickr.

  • Kicking Horse River Lodge, Canada
    If a cool mountainous adventure is your preferred summer getaway, consider Kicking Horse River Lodge in Golden, British Columbia, Canada. Nestled between the Canadian Rockies and Purcell Mountains, the lodge uses geothermal and hydroelectric energy to shrink its footprint to a minimum. With accommodations ranging from dorm-style bunks to comfortable private rooms, the lodge can be a bargain hunter’s inexpensive launching pad for exploring the nearby national parks. Banff, the nearest national park, boasts turquoise lakes, jagged peaks and subalpine forest which are prime habitat for elk, moose, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, grizzly and black bear and the threatened caribou.
Endangered Owl Butterly in Lapa Rios

Endangered Owl Butterly in Lapa Rios. Credit: Grant Folin via Flickr.

Whatever your ideal summer plans include, look for cities that are known for their urban forests, golf courses that reuse their water, spas that favor natural products, hotels that have shrunk their footprint and, of course, nearby forests to explore.

Traveling to Your Destination

There’s an obvious rule of thumb when it comes to starting your vacation in a carbon friendly way — don’t fly if you can drive. But, if getting to your destination requires air travel, you can book flights that use larger and newer planes and don’t have layovers. One quick way to start an eco-friendly flying search is by using a search engine that includes the carbon footprint in the results shown, such as Gooby, where rankings are given for “quickest,” “cheapest,” “most popular” and most importantly, “greenest.”

While on Vacation

Once you’ve booked an eco-friendly destination and figured out how to get there with the smallest carbon footprint, remember to take a few steps to ensure that you continue to have a minimal impact on the environment.

Instead of taking a cab to recreation spots, explore the area on foot, bike or by public transportation. You will experience much more of the area and may even discover some hidden gems that are unlisted on Google results and unknown to the concierge.

Offer to reuse your towels and linens during your stay, or opt in to an environmental plan that your hotel offers. You can also turn off the thermostat when you’re not in your room, shower instead of bathing and explore local dining options that offer farm to table cuisine.

Coming Home

An important part of an eco-friendly vacation that often goes unmentioned is in what you bring home. Souvenirs are reminders of the extraordinary memories that were made and tokens of the culture or nature experienced. But often, tourist souvenirs don’t benefit the local community that was visited. Avoid purchasing products by big-name brands that can be found in shopping malls and airport terminals that won’t benefit the local community. Instead, search out locally and responsibly made products sold by small businesses, just be careful to avoid products made out of rare wood or animal parts that may have been harvested unsustainably or are a result of poaching.

There are endless enticing forests to explore this summer — find a destination that will allow you to experience the trees and wildlife of a beautiful tranquil forest in a more sustainable way.


Forest Digest — Week of June 20, 2016

by American Forests
Intensifying wildfires threaten forests.

Climate change is increasing the intensity and duration of wildfires.

Find out the latest in forest news with this week’s Forest Digest!

  • Wildfire, Forests, and Climate Change [Infographic]TheEnergyCollective.com
    Forest mismanagement and escalating climate change are lengthening and intensifying wildfires, which threaten the health of the world’s forests. Plus, an infographic on the world’s deadliest wildfires.

 


Why I’m Here: Trading Prickly Pear for Red Pine

by American Forests

By Megan Feeney, Policy Intern

MeganGrowing up in Ahwatukee, Ariz., opportunities to experience elements of forestry or urban greenspace were limited to the rushed car trips up the West Coast for swim meets and crashing my bike into a patch of prickly pear cacti at age seven. It wasn’t until entering my first year of college in Western Pennsylvania that I was finally introduced to the intricate nature of forestry and the abundance of wildlife that accompanies it. The various hiking trails surrounding Allegheny College have proven to be a valued asset within the local community, for both the environmental expert and a novice such as myself. The reservation of these spaces for environmental research, restoration efforts and public recreation truly promote the value of these woodland regions.

My appreciation for forestry was again solidified through a recent academic experience in Puerto Maldonado, Peru, where I resided in the Amazon Basin to study the biodiversity associated with the region’s rainforest. While the weather was extremely humid and the mosquito nets appeared to be defective, I have never felt a stronger connection to the natural environment. The opportunity to experience the changing environmental landscape, along with observing the exceptional beauty of creatures, such as the blue-headed parrot and the black caiman, was well worth any temporary discomfort. Our guides also expressed a respect for the forests, treating specific trees as sacred components of local cosmology. The Peruvian appreciation for the Pachamama, Mother Earth, also added an interesting sense of spirituality and cultural understanding to the greater question of environmental conservation.

Throughout my studies within the field of Political Science, I have noticed that the environment tends to take a back seat within the public discourse surrounding both federal and state policy. Aspects of development and the possibility for economic opportunity tend to dominate the conversation, while environmental consideration is pushed aside. As a student of policy, this seemingly blasé attitude towards elements of climate change, carbon emissions and the destructions of forests is deeply troubling. Although wildlands play a vital role in the daily life of citizens, there appears to be a societal disconnect between the incentives of private enterprise and the need for preservation.

Luckily for the nation’s forests, as well as our global community, American Forests is providing a much needed voice to the political conversation. The founding of this organization in 1875 was well ahead of its time, attempting to address the environmental concerns of the steadily expanding nation. Today, American Forests strives to promote action, as well as education, in support of environmental conservation through policy discussions, advocacy and community programs.

I am happy to say that I have found my summer home with American Forests. Assisting with substantive work that promotes a worthy goal or cause is the dream of any college intern. While I may not have reached this point through the conventional path of growing up with a forest in my backyard, my experiences of the past few years will serve as a strong base to motivate my learning process. It is an honor to work for such an established environmental organization that is striving to make a true impact within public policy and local communities.


An Adventurer’s Connection to Nature: Q&A with Eddie Bauer Athlete KC Deane

by American Forests
Deane

Credit: Chris Figenshau courtesy of Eddie Bauer.

We all have a different connection to nature. For those who have a love of outdoor adventure and spend much of their time in nature, that connection is imperative to who they are. This is the case for KC Deane. Deane is an accomplished skier and mountain biker who also happens to be great with a camera. He’s competed in numerous renowned events and had his photography published frequently. In the following interview, learn more about Deane’s connection to nature and the environment in which he thrives.

Q: Do you think it was nature or nurture that created in you the seeds of the passion you have for outdoor adventure?

A: For me, I think it was both. Having parents that get you in the outdoors is a key element. Then, once you get out in nature, it keeps you coming back. The older I got the more I wanted to be outside and looking for new places.

Q: How young were you when you first knew you wanted to be pushing your limits outside?

A: I was probably about 5 or 6 years old. I had been skiing for a few years at age 6 and looked up to my brother and my dad. Also, the influence of watching ski movies made me want to be a skier.

Deane skying off mountain.

Credit: Grant Gunderson courtesy of Eddie Bauer.

Q: Was there a mentor or influence in your life that drew you to these sports?

A: My dad, 100 percent. He is the reason I am doing so many different sports. He was taking me skiing and climbing as a little kid and towing me up hills on my bike before I had enough strength to keep up with everyone. He was constantly taking me into the mountains, and, by an early age, I was always looking forward to doing something new.

Deane preparing to board helicopter.

Credit: Chris Figenshau courtesy of Eddie Bauer.

Q: What is the connection for you, if any, between your adventure life and your view of the natural world?

A: Every day that I get out to do a sport, I’m in nature. So, being in nature on a daily basis and seeing the effects humans have locally, as well as globally, through global warming, it is hard not to become protective over the places we go and what we have.

Deane mountain biking

Credit: Grant Gunderson courtesy of Eddie Bauer.

Q: As a photographer, filmmaker and blogger/adventurer, what impact do you hope your work will have on others?

A: One of the best things for me is to inspire others to go do things and see more. Personally, one of the best compliments as an athlete/photographer is when I get a comment or meet someone in person that tells me, “hey, I just upped and left what I was doing because I wanted to go see and experience the places that I’ve seen through your images.” So, to continue that is one way I hope to impact people, and the other is to see and admire a place while leaving it as it is. Sometimes, the more people visit a place, for instance, you can see the effects they have on it. I like to think that when a person goes to see a place I took an image of they see it without any trace of myself or anyone else that has been there before.

Deane

Credit: Chris Figenshau courtesy of Eddie Bauer.


Forest Digest – Week of June 13, 2016

by American Forests

Find out the latest in forest news in this week’s Forest Digest!

City trees

Credit: Chuck Fazio.

  • Even Indoor Kids Should Worry About California’s 30 Million Dead Trees — Wired.com
    Last year, the state of California lost nearly 30 million trees, and this changing landscape will impact residents in a variety of ways, including increased wildfires, potential mudslides, poor water quality and more.
  • U.S., Norway say forests vital to global climate goalsReuters
    In a joint statement made on Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Norwegian government, both countries have signed a deal focusing on protecting forests, and engaging the private sector in doing so, in order to address climate goals.
  • Canadian forests a refuge as warming creeps northScienceDaily
    A recent Harvard study, analyzing more than 26,000 trees across an area of Canada, helps to reveal how increased rainfall may help certain trees in the area survive the threats of climate change.
  • Trees Lining California Streets Are Worth An Extra $1 Billion A YearHuffington Post
    A new study estimates each street tree within California to be worth $111, based on the benefits they provide, which can assist the state’s urban foresters in advocating for the planting of more trees and strategic selection of trees that provide maximum economic and environmental impact.

Discover 5 of America’s Old-Growth Forests

by American Forests

By Lindsay Seventko, Communications Intern

There are still extraordinary places left on earth where old-growth trees have been climbing hundreds of feet to the sky for centuries, safely distanced from the watchful eye of development and industry. Here, rare wildlife flourishes, like it did in the breathtaking and doubt-inspiring accounts of Lewis and Clark’s first expeditions, off the beaten path of destinations and away from typical tourists.

However, stands of ancient trees have also stood among us, sometimes largely unnoticed, as recreationalists trek by with eyes focused on the trail, river or rock ledge.

Whether you’d rather explore deep within the wilderness where few venture, or enjoy a simple walk in the outdoors, there are beautiful, old-growth forests waiting to be visited. Put one of these areas on your list of places to explore, and who knows, maybe the next Champion Big Tree is waiting to be discovered.

1. Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Tongass National Forest is home to some of the oldest trees on earth — many of them dating back more than 800 years. Spruce, cedar and western hemlock trees stretch more than 200 feet into the sky and reach nearly 12 feet in diameter at chest level. These impressive trees mark the section of southeast Alaska that makes up 30 percent of the temperate rainforests on earth and one of the last great marvels of biodiversity and natural abundance. Here, some of the rarest wildlife on earth abounds — bald eagles, grizzly bears, Alexander Archipelago wolves, the Goshawk and the Marbled Murrelet. Ancient glaciers feed the Icy Straight, a winding river that delivers three times as much essential organic carbon to the ocean than the Amazon River does, supporting lush marine life from krill to sea lions, whales and a range of salmon species. Exploring the Tongass can be a short hike or a deep wilderness trek, but the time to visit is now, as the forest’s timber harvesting plan threatens the remaining old-growth trees and the health of the wildlife habitat.

Tongass National Forest

Credit: Don MacDougall/USFS via Flickr.

2. Chattahoochee National Forest, South Carolina and Georgia

Chattahoochee National Forest is home to massive hemlocks, pines and hardwoods, with stately trees stretching more than 160 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. Scattered across the slopes of Medlin Mountain in South Carolina, the massive trunks contrast with the heavily logged bank of the East Fork of the Chattooga River. Towering canopies shelter dense, luscious rhododendron bushes, wildflowers and endangered plants such as the rattlesnake plantain and mountain camellia.

The area used to be the end of what was a large section of old-growth forest across the entire watershed, where the average tree height was a record 160 feet. Due to the knotty nature of the wood, timber harvesters avoided the area and the trees were left to flourish for centuries, some up to 600 years. It wasn’t until the woolly adelgid, an invasive insect, began covering the area and the hemlocks were put into shock and, ultimately, began dying off. Some of the old stands remain, however, covering the mountainsides. Spring is the time to explore the trails, when the solitary viereo, black-throated green warbler and Blackburnian warbler nest in the hemlock branches and rhododendron bushes bloom underneath the cover.

Chattahoochee National Forest

Credit: Alan Sandercock via Flickr.

3. Heart’s Content Recreation Area, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Nestled within a small 120-acre area of the Allegheny National Forest, some of the largest old-growth trees in North America grow alongside an easily accessible, one mile trail. The Heart’s Content Recreation Area is home to a white pine that is more than 900 cubic feet, as well as a 300-year-old hemlock and beech. This preserve is a great way to view an old, beautiful forest and its wildlife without traipsing deep within a wild area.

Heart's Content Recreation Area

Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli via Flickr.

4. Adirondack State Park, New York

The Adirondack wilderness in New York is home to about 300,000 acres of ancient trees scattered about the vast wilderness. Some of the largest hardwoods in the world can be found dotting remote ridgelines and lining secluded rivers deep within the park, where logging wasn’t able to disrupt centuries of steady growth. However, some select stands have remained in accessible areas. A few minutes’ walk on the Ampersand Mountain trailhead leads to statuesque hemlocks, magnificent sugar maples and gangly yellow birch that have been growing for nearly 400 years.

Adirondack State Park

Credit: David Johnson via Flickr.

5. Jedediah Redwoods State Park, California

A list of old-growth forests wouldn’t be complete without mentioning California’s awe-inspiring redwoods, but the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in the northernmost section is especially impressive. A trip begins with one of the most beautiful drives in the state — winding through towering redwoods over rough gravel for 10 miles and ending deep within the ancient forest. Miles of remote trails explore stunning waterfalls, rare wildlife and, of course, gigantic trees. Here, two massive redwoods entwine each other into one massive trunk that stretches 40 feet across at the bottom. The park is also the launching pad for discovery of the fabled Grove of Titans, a group of famously massive trees whose location isn’t made publicly available in order to protect them from damage.

Jedediah Smith State Park

Credit: Max Forster.

Across the country, there are still groves of old-growth forests deep within a wilderness valley, protected in a recreational area or even in someone’s backyard. Whether you want to simply walk and appreciate an ancient forest, or go off on an expedition to find a new champion tree, there is an area of old forest waiting, with trees continuing their centuries long climb to the sky.