Ride the Sky Trail to the Top of the Giant Redwood ForestThe 10 minute gondala ride takes you 1570' through the tree tops & a million years back in time!
The giant redwood forests of the California coast are legendary — as is one of American folklore’s most loved legends — Paul Bunyan. And when you’re in Klamath, California, you’ll even find them together at Trees of Mystery.
What exactly is Trees of Mystery? Well, it’s a nature attraction that’s been providing awe-inspiring treks on its interpretive trails in their redwood forest for 70+ years. Here, you’ll find trees with stories, along with the tallest Paul Bunyan I’ve ever seen, at 49 ft. high, and his 35 ft. companion, the blue ox, Babe.
When Paul calls out, “Hello,” you just have to look up and smile!
The Sky Trail Gondola Adventure
If it hadn’t been for Paul Bunyan, we might have missed the Trees of Mystery turn-in off of Highway 101. We’d heard about the attraction from another traveler the evening before, while enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Florence, Oregon, where we were spending the night. He’d indicated it was a must-see stop on our travels. And it was good advice!
Once we grabbed a spot in the large free parking lot, it was on to explore. The admission fees, we were happy to learn, were all-inclusive: SkyTrail (0.33 mi.), main Forest Experience Trail (0.8 mi.), Wilderness Trail (1 mi.), Trail of Tall Trees and the Kingdom of Trees. For the incredible amount of information about the trees and the gondola ride, we felt ticket costs were pretty low at $14 (Boomer price!). Click here for the current list of admission fees.
However, if you don’t want to experience the walking trails, or take the gondola, there’s free admission to the End of the Trail Museum (also the start). The Museum is dedicated to the first peoples who lived across the United States, organized by geographical area. Inside its half dozen rooms, you’ll see many beautiful artifacts, ranging from baskets to beadwork and more.
Walking the trails through the forest seemed a lot like how Gulliver must have felt in the Land of the Giants. Even though it was unseasonably hot on our visit (90+ degrees!), the air was cool.
While we enjoyed the hike to the gondola, there’s also a free shuttle to the Brotherhood Station. Once there, it’s just a matter of waiting until one of the eight gondola cars finishes its 8 to 10 minute circuit from bottom to top. We were lucky on our September visit, as there were no line-ups. So, we just shared our ride with another mesmerized visitor.
And I can guarantee that if you think looking up at 300 ft. high trees is stunning, looking down at them is even much more overwhelming.
Trees From the Time of Dinosaurs
Along the trail, the most important trees were identified by species and their estimated ages. The tree above, with the years marked to show how big the tree was at the signing of the Magna Carta, really hits home when you think about how long ago that was in our history.
However, these trees are all but babes when you consider that as species, both the Dawn Redwood and Coastal Redwood spanned the Northern Hemisphere 65 million years ago. Even more amazingly, their beginnings were much earlier, in the Upper Cretaceous, about 110 million years ago.
As the gondola rose and rose and rose, it seemed we were going back in time, as well as rising to the sky.
In the middle of the ride, right in the thick of the trees, I thought of the dinosaurs. For a moment, I wondered if a Hadrosaur might stick its neck out around one of the giant redwoods and play spin the gondola with our car!
But of course, none did.
At the top, we got out of the gondola and surveyed the mighty redwood kingdom below us. It could have been the 21st century or the Jurassic era, except for the modern technology we’d ridden.
More to See
The trail leading from the Gondola ride back to the End of the Trail Museum takes you through an amazing wonderland of tree carvings. It’s called, quite aptly, the Trail of Tall Tales.
Here, you’ll find many of Paul Bunyan’s friends and neighbors, along with other legends and tall tales.
Video: The Sky Trail at Trees of Mystery
Even if you can’t get to Trees of Mystery right now, you can take a virtual ride through the giants with this video.
Visit Trees of Mystery
Here’s our itinerary for the day we visited Trees of Mystery. It starts in Florence, Oregon, and ends in Arcata, California.
Have You Visited
If you’ve already visited Trees of Mystery, tell us about your favorite part in the comments section below!
About the Photo
The photo above shows David Aksomitis standing in front of a giant redwood at the Trees of Mystery attraction at Klamath, California (USA).