Here’s What It’s Like to Climb a 200-Foot-Tall Redwood Tree

Join a virtual reality trip to the top of an 850-year-old tree.
Apr 18, 2016·
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Behold Grandfather, an 850-year-old, 200-foot-high coastal redwood standing tall on private land in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

Tim Kovar, a tree-climbing specialist, and Cameron Williams, a redwood biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, lead guided tours for the public to experience an old-growth redwood tree from trunk to top.

It’s a rare opportunity to see up close the delicate and diverse ecosystem within the tree’s canopy, as redwood climbing is not permitted in state and national parks. Kovar only runs tours one week a year to minimize disturbances to the tree and the wildlife that live among its branches.

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For Kovar, climbing Grandfather is a great lesson in conservation: A previous landowner once had plans to log the tree.

“The tree has some signs of prepping for logging, so you can see that abuse, where lower branches were removed,” Kovar said. “But luckily it is still here, and we get to experience an old-growth redwood forest slated to go through the mill but saved at the last minute.”