Copyright 2009 - 2014 by Mario Vaden
Note ... September 2014, this page was reduced to the more essential facts or comments. Latest at end.
Photo of Hyperion updated October 2014 ... text updated November, 2014
Hyperion coast redwood was discovered August 25, 2006 by Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. It is the tallest known of all plant species in the world. The 2012 measurement was 115.66m or 379.46' high, 15.2' diameter at dbh or 4.5' above average grade.
It is mostly a single stem redwood with very slight fire charring on parts of the trunk. In many ways it fits a stereotypical look for Sequoia sempervirens. The stem length on the low side is 386 feet. The location is a hillside above a small tributary of Redwood National Park.
Around August 26, 2006, forest expert Dr. Robert VanPelt referred to this redwood as "unnamed", and also wrote "The most significant year in tree height measuring just joined the ranks of years like 1066, 1492, etc."
The specific facts available for Hyperion are not many. For example, the location hidden enough, that nobody outside the tree community found it for at least 3 consecutive years at one point in time.
During the first climb, shown by National Geographic,, researcher Steve Sillett said the foliage near the top was not as reduced in size as expected. The needles still had some "expansion". Indicating the potential for greater height surpassing the 380 ft. range.
Although planes flew over redwood parks for LiDAR, there may be a chance of a taller redwood. A small chance. But parts of Redwood National Park were not flown over for LiDAR.
Helios, the 2nd tallest has grown more vigorous, is better protected, and far less documented. Measurements for Helios were conservative. It may be inches from a tie. Redwoods can trade places for tallest.
The photo here is the coast redwood Hyperion. Because the image is rare, fair use is not applicable. There should be a small pic you can use for blogs etc., pre-approved if you visit the image use page and read instructions.
There is not any single way to approach this tallest redwood in the world, located uphill from one of the many creeks and brooks. The largest waterway is Redwood Creek with Prairie Creek as largest tributary. Lost Man Creek forms a confluence 12,000 feet upstream as another RNP tributary. Among this web of waterways and slopes, seekers choose routes they deem promising to find this Coast Redwood.
When I first found this redwood, my route involved walking through water deeper than my waist. It ends-up that immersing in waist-deep water was not essential. I could get there without so much as stepping in an inch of water if I picked my steps carefully.
My favorite story by others is a 2007 / Above and Beyond by Clynes. If still online, see ... Above and Beyond Article. The narrative sounds as if they picked Redwood Creek trailhead close to Orick. That article opens weighing options in hours and pints of blood. Their first search party had a 75% casualty rate for injuries the first day. It ends with appreciation for the entire forest. I found some interesting quirks comparing Preston's book with Clynes story.
Several others looking in later years also shared bleeding.
Image to right: my photography assistant with Canon camera, at the base of the trunk. Spring 2014. It was unusually warm ... about 80 degrees ... so we dressed to stay cool that particular day.
Attempts were made by others up Emerald Creek, Tom McDonald Creek and Forty Four Creek because of speculative guesses at some websites. Several folks went to those with no success. A handful returned to other parts of the park.
Hyperion was described in a book as being in remote part of Redwood National Park on a hillside in the south end of the park. Because the park is not neatly sliced into north or south on maps the description is vague. Especially since Prairie Creek is occassionally included generically.
With new super tall redwoods found recently and the shroud of mystery around this location, some folks wonder if Hyperion is still the tallest in the world.
Some new finds are not being named. But it should be tallest ..... 99.99% certain.
The only certain clue is actually finding Hyperion.
Helios is so close in diameter and height, someone could mistake it for Hyperion. In the near future, Hyperion may not be the tallest.
In 2011, Michael Taylor wrote "Helios is on pace to hit 380' on or about 2017. Hyperion is on pace to break the 380' barrier about the same time. Hyperion's growth was about 1 inch per year." Helios is faster growing of the two.
What a novice would do about Hyperion, even with a laser, I do not know.
Michael Taylor once wrote to some folks of the Eastern Native Tree Society, that one would "literally" need to get like a mile away to hit the central leader clearly.
In a few years, the handful who may have located what was the world's tallest, may no longer have seen the tallest. And if they thought clues for Hyperion were rare ... Helios will confound them, because clues are almost non-existent. The hunt may boil-down to less than the photo to the right on Helios' bark. Those are burn marks on Helios, up the trunk. One small fire scar is shaped like a Megaladon or Great White Shark tooth.
Various people expressed interest in Hyperion, assuming it is upslope of a named creek. Redwood National Park has at least 40 miles of named creeks. Add to that countless seasonal brooks with no names. That's 80 miles of slopes when both sides are combined.
This area was also nicknamed Fog Valley in a book by Richard Preston, describing Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor heading downstream into the rugged region. Compare that writing by Preston with the chapter Michael Taylor's Dream where the climbing expedition went upstream. So it says.
Tags on redwoods are not useful for verification. Between canopy researchers and other studies, there are reams of tags.
Tags for some redwoods are across valleys on trunks of other Redwoods or Douglas Firs, where the window was open to use a laser toward the opposite side of the valley. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of tags multiplied.
Bent foliage means next to nothing these days because there have been successive years of groups wandering all over the place in Redwood National Park.
It seems that many apparent clues for Hyperion are not much better than trial and error, because various clues are uncertain or have been twisted through narratives.
For any looking, keep a lookout for bears and mountain lions.
On my first discovery, there were scads of fresh bear footprints, claw marks and scat. One part of Hyperion Valley had a couple of Mountain Lion tracks.
Two links near the top of this page go to information about those animals found in Redwood National Park.
Earlier I mentioned tags and measuring. Here is a diagram about mearuing a redwood from one side of the valley to another. Crossing and measuring can take hours.
E-mail trip reports
People send messages about their quest. So far, others have explored upwards of 1 to 2 miles up creeks including Bond Creek, Forty Four Creek, Bridge Creek, Tom McDonald Creek, Bridge Creek, Lost Man Creek, Emerald Creek, part of Redwood Creek and part or Devil's Creek. Every one provided a journey without finding Hyperion.
Image to left: is a Mountain lion track at 'Cougar Flat'
What seemed the most solid clue, was found after locating Hyperion. But it only stood out as a clue on account of having found Lost Monarch.
The clue reminds me of the movie The Matrix, where passage through some door or opening, completely depends on one particular character.
My theory was if someone found Lost Monarch first, they may be able to figure out Hyperion via one clue.
Eventually I decided the ultimate clue could act like a double-edged sword.
Image right: Broken elbow of a man who explored off-trail some time after the release of Preston's redwood book ... hoping to score a find. Image from H. Llewellyn - used with permission
Old-Growth is slim pickins past Devil's Creek which has a lot of old redwoods and itself covers an extensive area.
Seekers are few
Compared to hikers, seekers are a drop in the bucket. That may boil down to a Youtube video. A climber of that redwood stated the trek in required a "4 mile plus" ordeal through "really rugged terrain". And the "lost little valley" is on the "edge" of the park.
Forty Four Creek falls a bit closer to a 4.5 mile walk from trail parking.
How far up a creek is old growth redwood?
There is no rule of thumb how far up a creek one can bushwhack to find old growth. In some valleys it begins almost right away. In other places like Bridge Creek it happens miles later.
The image shows the upper region of a creek in Redwood National Park.
Every so often, I find myself rereading the Above and Beyond article by Clynes, Clynes wrote:
"We thought we had been in big-tree country before, but as we walked farther into the grove, we realized that we had now entered a new realm. All around us, 20-foot-wide trunks rose in great grooved columns"
If that is correct, the description does not sound like the "right place" stated by Atkins (discoverer) in the article. Also, compare Clynes description to the "stumps ten to fifteen feet across" and "beanpoles" mentioned by author Preston.
It has been suspected by a few, that discovererss, researchers and park staff laid an elaborate web of false clues. I will not confirm or deny that theory, but keep in mind a few Grove of Titans clues were backwards.
Because if it were true, searchers would be drawn continually into a modern redwood version of Greek mythology: the legend of Sisyphus and his impossible task.
The free bone
About the only clue that can be offered, is the fact that at least one existing Hyperion clues is wrong or out of whack. Typo, mis-statement, figure of speech which appears literal, or a mix-up about locations and boundaries.
That "bone" does open your mind to huge possibilities far exceeding what you may have expected.
Image: cleaning lens in Redwood National Park. Same day my photography assistant, above, helped me get some more recent images
"Keyhole in the Landscape"
Richard Preston wrote of a keyhole in the landscape, leading to Hyperion Valley. For years, it made no sense.
Fairly recently, in that vicinity, I photographed what I believe to be the the passageway written about.
Maybe you walked right by Hyperion?
I wonder how many people have walked right by Hyperion, and missed it.
Ever read my Godwood Creek Giant page? That redwood should have been a gimme. I probably passed it a dozen times. About 6 misses specifically looking for it.
So it wouldn't surprise me if some have literally gazed at the trunk or canopy and simply moved along on their journey.
And the crazy part, is Godwood Creek Giant sits in plain sight.
November 4, 2014 update ...
November 2014 update is merely that Hyperion is still standing. The 11/4 update included the vanishing of the brief October 31st creek commentary.
November 9, 2014 update ...
FYI ... for first-time and repeat visitors to this Coast Redwood page ... I want to etch in stone for you that this page presented to keep the subject interesting more so than some form of head start. If I mention something not stated anywhere else, don't assume it gives more leverage than meets the eye.
I do aim to get people to think. And many things I've written are meant to trigger decision-making ... to lead people out of ruts and deeper into the think-tank of redwood country. Best I know, this page has been, and remains 100% true-to-fact. Sometimes the truth of statements is not realized until after folks find the redwood. Then its even more evident how much effort was invested here to shoot-from-the-hip.
In a recent email, someone mentioned old forum posts ... ones I wrote years ago. That got me thinking I should share a few words.
Today, as as in the past, I expend plenty of effort to avoid posting images of special-interest redwoods back-to-back with other places that were visited in succession. For example, If some forum shows photos of Bigfoot Valley and Lady Bird Johnson grove posted in reply-proximity, that means virtually nothing. Often, I wait days if not weeks to spread out images. EXIF data could even backfire as relates to dates and time.
November 12, 2014 update ...
This is related to the several tallest, rather than just Hyperion. But I seem to recall several seekers of past years having the top 3 tallest Coast Redwoods as their priority. Most were looking for Hyperion, Helios and Icarus as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd tallest redwoods.
But the latest stats I got a few months ago have a different trio listed.
So today ... the 12th ... the order and data on Wikipedia is outdated.
I don't know if any single person ever has the top 10 or 20 updated on a daily or weekly basis consistently. Prof. Sillett climbs a few yearly, but not all. Atkins, Taylor and a couple others measure some occassionally every so often. And through the course of a year, share and relay some info.
I'm not quite sure how old the data on Wikipedia is. But the most recent order of heights was not there last time I checked.
On my own pages, whatever was written previous is satisfactory for my own needs presently. I don't mind just showing a glimpse back to a certain point in time. Some updates will occur, but it's not a priority. Michael Taylor's list was offline last time I checked. And he's more invested in gadgets, drones and other forest stuff right now. Otherwise, his lists used to be one of the more recent and up to date for the average person using the internet to seach Coast Redwood heights.