Methuselah Tree (Redwood) – Woodside, California - Atlas Obscura

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Methuselah Tree (Redwood)

This massive redwood tree has stood in Northern California for nearly 2,000 years. 


The giant sequoias of California are overwhelmingly big, making you feel like a leprechaun in a fairy tale. Most of these trees can be found just south of Death Valley, in parks that include the largest sequoia (General Sherman), and many other so-called first-growth trees. While you can certainly find other giant trees throughout the state, most of them are second-growth, which means that they are very tall but not very wide. One notable exception is a massive coast redwood that grows not far from Silicon Valley, called the Methuselah Tree.

This tree is one of the last remaining first-growth trees in the area, with an estimated age of more than 1,800 years. It stands a staggering 147 feet tall, which is only after half of it broke off during a storm in 1957. Before that, its height was closer to 225 feet. Its base has a diameter of 14 feet, easily dwarfing any person who stands next to it.

A bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of eastern California goes by the same nickname. The Methuselah Tree of the White Mountains is one of the oldest trees in the world—at an estimated 4,600-4,800 years old, it has a couple of millennia on the Methuselah of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Know Before You Go

The tree is located in the Santa Cruz mountains, southwest of Silicon Valley. A drive up takes about 30 minutes along a very curvy, but safe, road (highway 84). Drive slowly and watch for oncoming traffic. Be aware that this route is popular with cyclists, especially on the weekends.

It is advised to use Google Maps, or some other GPS devise, as there is no signage to indicate the upcoming location until one is already upon it. There is a small area to pull in off the road, just use caution when entering and exiting. Keep to the small maintained path up to the tree, as Poison Oak is prevelent.

The drive up itself is also quite the experience, as the area changes from high tech Silicon Valley, to rolling meadows and finally into (nearly) untamed forest. Giving you a good idea of how the area looked before people arrived and began changing it.

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