The State of California created the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in the 1920s in an effort to protect some of the remaining old growth redwood forests from decimation by logging. Then in 1968, Congress created Redwood National Forest, which encompassed that state park along with two others. This park is now recognized as a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. It supports old growth redwood trees and also is home to a plethora of animals, insects, birds and other types of trees, such as Douglas fir and Sitka spruce.
The tallest trees in the world, Redwoods today exist on less than 10 percent of their original habitat. And much of that area is in Redwood National Forrest, also known as the Avenue of the Giants, in the national park of the same name. The biggest of the trees is the Lost Monarch, which is 26 feet in diameter and 320 feet high. The tallest redwood is Hyperion, at 379.1 feet. These fabulous trees can live 500 to 2,000 years; their relatives lived upwards of 160 million years ago during the Jurassic Era. These trees are hearty and are highly resistant to disease, which enables their long life. In this era, they prefer living near water sources in cool, moist climates. They like to stay continually damp. These trees are able to move hundreds of gallons of water up from from their roots, through their trunks and to their crowns on a daily basis. Hikers wandering through the Redwood National Forest will marvel at their majesty.
The second tallest tree in the world is the Douglas fir, a conifer that can reach heights between 200 and 250 feet and widths of 5 to 7 feet. The tallest known Douglas fir is the Doerner Fir, 328 feet tall and 11.5 feet wide, which is in Oregon. These trees are classified as evergreen conifers, and they thrive in the western coastal regions of the United States and Canada. They live from sea level to altitudes of nearly 6,000 feet. The Scottish physician David Douglas first documented these trees. When hiking through the forest in Redwood National Park, be on the look out--or rather smell out--for the sweet, fruity-resinous scent of the foliage.
As most of the trees in this forested area, the large, coniferous Sitka spruce also grow large, up to 15 or more feet in width and between 160 and 210 feet, with the rare 300-or-so-foot tall specimen. These evergreens are the largest of the spruce family and the third tallest trees in the world. They are native to the western North American coast, living primarily in the temperate rainforests there. Like redwoods and Douglas fir, they prefer moist climates; you might see them inland along river floodplains. These trees grow rapidly and live up to 700 years, though size doesn't necessarily indicate age.