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The Old Tree is just a dot on the map of Portola Redwoods State Park – until you stand before its mind-boggling bulk and try to take it all in. It’s 297 feet tall, 12 feet across, perhaps 1,200 years old. Forget about fitting it into a single snapshot.

Even if your brain can process the sight of the behemoth coast redwood standing at the terminus of the delightful Old Tree Trail (an easy half-mile from the park headquarters), it’s more difficult to reconcile what this tree represents: a rare survivor of an era when thousand-year-old trees were killed to turn a buck. Few old-growth redwoods remain at Portola, but the abundance of new growth shading the trails here is cause for hope: Forests come back, if people let them.

Another look at the Old Tree:

The Old Tree