Gulch Tower - World's 29th Tallest Tree
Height: 363.42+ ft (110.77+ m) Elevation: 380 ft (116 m) GPS Latitude: 41.25917
Volume: Creek: Elam Creek GPS Longitude: -124.03700
Width: 11.09 ft (3.38 m) Grove: Orion Grove Discovery Date: 2007
Age: Park: Redwood NP Discovered By: LiDAR

Notes: Gulch Tower, also known as T7, is the world's 29th tallest tree, the 8th tallest tree in Redwood National Park, the 2nd tallest tree in Orion Grove, and the 2nd tallest tree discovered by light detection and ranging (LiDAR).

In spring 2007, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the California State Parks Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, and Save the Redwoods League paid Sanborn Mapping Services $183,000 to conduct an aerial LiDAR survey of Redwood National and State Parks, the Headwaters Forest Reserve, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Over a period of three months, Sanborn's 1968 Aero Commander 500S aircraft, carrying Leica Geosystems topographic LiDAR sensors, flew back and forth above the parks, at an altitude of 2,625 ft (800 m), while a laser, firing through a hole in the bottom of the fuselage, scanned the terrain below. The aircraft traveled more than 13,500 mi (21,726 km) during the survey while LiDAR sensors recorded the precise location, between the ground and the treetops, of 85,000 points every second to generate a three-dimensional map of the forest. After researchers processed the LiDAR data to create a list of trees taller than 348 ft (106 m) in each park, they hiked to each tree to verify its height. Although many tall redwoods detected by LiDAR, including Hyperion and Helios, were already known from earlier ground surveys, some trees, including Gulch Tower, Orion, Outlier, and Solstice, were previously undiscovered.

Gulch Tower and Orion are just fourteen trees apart.

Drive: Gulch Tower is 255 mi (410 km) north of San Francisco near the community of Orick.

From U.S. Highway 101 just north of Orick, turn onto Bald Hills Road and drive 0.3 mi (0.5 km) to the Redwood Creek Trail sign. Turn right at the sign and drive 0.5 mi (0.8 km) to the Redwood Creek trailhead parking lot.

Hike: GPS-assisted navigation is recommended for this hike. From the parking lot, cross the wooden bridge at the trailhead and hike south 2.7 mi (4.3 km) along Redwood Creek Trail toward Elam Creek. Just after the trail crosses Hayes Creek, less than 1.0 mi (1.6 km) from the trailhead, you will see Redwood Creek on your right. Continue south along the trail until you reach the seasonal footbridge which crosses Redwood Creek 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from the trailhead. Cross Redwood Creek, return to the trail, and continue hiking south another 1.2 mi (1.9 km), past McArthur Creek and under a fallen tree, to Elam Creek. Just before the lower Elam Creek bridge (turn around if you reach this bridge), turn right/west at the Redwood Creek Trail sign on your left and the Orick Horse Trail sign on your right and hike west 0.1 mi (0.2 km) along the short spur trail, past the Elam Horse Camp and stable, to the junction with Elam Creek Loop Trail (also known as Overnight Loop Trail). Continue straight past the trail junction and hike west 0.2 mi (0.3 km) along the Elam Creek Loop Trail to the upper Elam Creek bridge. Just across the bridge, exit the trail to the right and follow an old logging road up and away from the creek. Where the logging road veers left/south (away from Elam Creek), exit the logging road to the right and, using a GPS device, hike southwest 0.4 mi (0.6 km) off-trail toward Gulch Tower, keeping some distance from the creek to avoid excessive underbrush and numerous fallen logs nearby. Cross Elam Creek and hike west 0.1 mi (0.2 km) to Gulch Tower. After visiting Gulch Tower, hike south 900 ft (274 m) off-trail to Orion.

Creek Warning: Gulch Tower is not accessible via Redwood Creek Trail when Redwood Creek has high water levels and the seasonal footbridge is not installed. It is best to visit Gulch Tower from July through October when Redwood Creek is low enough to wade across. To visit Gulch Tower whenever Redwood Creek is impassable, use the 3.5 mi (5.6 km) longer alternate route via Orick Horse Trail.

Rating: Difficult One-Way Distance: 3.5 mi (5.6 km) Ascent: 331 ft (101 m)
Time: 3 hr Off-Trail: 0.5 mi (0.8 km) Descent: 26 ft (8 m)
Gulch Tower Tree Hike Map

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Panorama: Click panorama to take a virtual tour of Gulch Tower Tree

Gulch Tower Tree

Photos: Pictures of Gulch Tower Tree taken from different sides

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