Unveiling California’s Ancient Enchanted Forest: The Mystical Realm of Candle-Shaped Redwoods

In California lies a mystical sanctuary known as Shady Dell, where an awe-inspiring redwood grove exists that transcends imagination.

Image credit: Mike Shoys

Nestled along the breathtaking Lost Coast of California, one of the most untouched and natural coastal stretches in the United States, lies a hidden gem known as Shady Dell. Within the heart of Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, this secluded forest reveals a peculiar sight—a small yet extraordinary grove of old-growth redwoods resembling candelabras. These majestic trees, shaped by the forces of nature, stand like towering candleholders just a few feet above the ground.

Unlike their typically straight counterparts, these remarkable redwoods bear a unique form. The interplay of strong winds and salty air, prevalent in this region, caused the trees to sprout branches near the ground. As conditions improved, these branches grew upward, transforming into secondary trunks, thus creating the astonishing candelabra-like appearance.

Image credit: Redwood Hikes

Within the grove, smaller redwoods also exist, but the true marvel lies in the extensively reiterated giant redwoods, untouched by logging activities. In fact, the twisted and contorted nature of these trees likely contributed to their survival, as they would not have been deemed suitable for timber production.

Affectionately referred to as the “Enchanted Forest” by locals, this woodland holds significant importance in the realm of forest science. “These gnarly branches and uniquely shaped trees provide crucial habitat for wildlife,” stated Dr. Emily Burns, the League’s Director of Science. “There is much to be learned from these trees. Their development offers valuable insights into how the environment influences the formation of redwood forests.”

Image credit: Redwood Hikes

In addition to the captivating candelabra-shaped coast redwoods, the diverse ecosystem of Shady Dell encompasses a wealth of plant and wildlife species. Among them are salmon, black bears, Roosevelt elk, and mountain lions, creating a harmonious tapestry of nature. Furthermore, the area is home to unique flowers known as “mycotrophs,” which, unlike green plants, rely on fungi for sustenance.

Access to the redwood grove is made possible through the 2.3-mile-long Peter Douglas Trail, established in 2016. This trail provides a scenic pathway for visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surroundings and experience the wonders of Shady Dell firsthand.

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