Redwoods and a Hiker

Chris Atkins, Tall Trees Club

Redwood legend and one of the world's best at measuring

Continued from: Coast Redwoods Main Page


Copyright 2011 - 2017 by Mario Vaden


In 2015, I added a group of pages on legendary men and explorers of the coast redwood forest. Chris Atkins is one of the few. Along with Dr. Steve Sillett and Michael Taylor, their discoveries fueled an awareness that made coast redwoods even more legendary. Chris Atkins was also a character of the book (2007) The Wild Trees, by author Richard Preston. The narrative builds to a crescendo where Chris and Michael Taylor discover the tallest redwood, Hyperion.

Chris Atkins is known for the discovery of Stratosphere Giant (2000) and co-discoverer of Hyperion, Helios and Icarus (2006). Four extraordinary evergreens with the tallest known tops on the face of the planet. Atkins also co-discovered Melkor and Grogan's Fault the largest known Coast Redwood we found in Redwood National and State Parks (2014). There's a small story to go along with Stratosphere Giant that I will put on it's page.

Among those who explored with him, he is known as one of the best in the world at measuring redwoods. Here is a quote that canopy scientist Dr. Stephen Sillett wrote (2010) on his site's collaborator section: "Chris Atkins is a tall tree expert who has found and measured most of the super-tall Sequoia, Sequoiadendron, Pseudotsuga, and Picea discovered since 2000. He is a world-class surveyor whose ground-based measurements of tree height often agree with my direct tape measurements to within 1 cm"

The discoveries Chris found provided more than just feathers in the cap for Guinness Book of World Records. The measurements and experience boost public interest in forests and data for canopy research. Chris indirectly helped advance education about coast redwoods. Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor did much of this together.

From a August 2007 article by Tom Clynes:

"Santa Rosa amateur naturalist Chris Atkins first visited the redwoods in the 1980s. "I was in awe of their size, their beauty and their longevity," Atkins says. He found himself drawn back to redwood country again and again In time, Atkins teamed up with Michael Taylor, who shared his craving for fresh air and biological extremes. Eventually, Atkins and Taylor blew $3,000 apiece on high-end laser range-finders."

Chris does not compromise quality when it comes to measuring. He double and triple checks tripods, fasteners and numbers. Chris will sit and wait for 20 minutes until wind subsides.

Trivia: Chris Atkins likes good food, beer and wine. Even when it comes to pack snacks for exploring, Chris will spend an hour if not two, tracking down the right deli or store that will satisfy his descriminating palate. He enjoys a swim in Redwood Creek during the summers when exploring or remeasuring, sometimes butt naked. He leans toward camping rather than motel lodging.


Image: Chris Atkins pin-pointing laser range finder scope cross-hairs near Brown Creek watershed


Redwood Legend Chris Atkins measuring with a laser range finder in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Forest