SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tree enthusiasts who go to the tallest tree in the world deep in a northern California forest will face a fine and possible jail time after officials in the park have declared the remote area prohibited due to damage caused by visitor trampling. tree and surrounding forest, a park official said Monday.

The tree, a 380-foot (115-meter) coast redwood, is in a remote area of ​​Redwood State Park and not accessible by any trail. But that hasn’t stopped dozens of visitors from hiking up to the tree, said Leonel Arguello, the park’s natural resources manager.

Arguello said the tree, known as Hyperion, was “discovered” by two amateur naturalists in 2006. In 2010, visitors began trekking to see the tall, skinny sequoia after bloggers, travel writers and others have shared its exact location online. In 2019, Guinness World Records declared the tree, estimated to be between 600 and 800 years old, the tallest in the world.

Hikers weaved off the beaten track through dense vegetation to reach the tree, creating many social trails. The tree has also been damaged by visitors walking on its base. The area around the tree no longer has ferns due to trampling, Arguello said.

“The social trails have increased in number, the amount of litter has increased, there’s human litter that’s been seen and as more and more people go up that tree, they create more social trails and all that has adverse effects on vegetation, soils and, and all the garbage is there,” he said.

The area has no cell phone reception and if someone were to be injured it would take a lot of time and resources to rescue that person. This, coupled with the trampling of the base of the tree and forest, led authorities to declare the area closed – and issue a $5,000 fine and up to six months in prison for those who trespass there. walk around anyway, he said.

Arguello said visitors to Hyperion might be disappointed to find that the tree isn’t much to see because, from its base, all they can see are branches.

“It’s big, but it’s not really impressive to look at from the base because you can’t see the top of the tree. All you can see are the branches of this tall, skinny tree,” Arguello said.

Park officials encourage people to visit Tall Trees Grove, where there are plenty of established trails and where visitors have access to many towering redwoods.

“You can walk through the grove and then go picnic by the creek, splash around and swim in the water. You don’t have to climb and brush up that tall skinny tree which isn’t that impressive,” Arguello said.

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