‘Widow makers’ close popular California trails

You see that big tree looming over you? Or over your house, your car? Or along the trail at your favorite park?

It could be what we call a “widow maker.” That is, a big tree (or limb) about to fall. Saturated soil that can’t hold upright the weight of big trees has led to a stunning array of downed trees in parks, backyards, front yards… in other words, everywhere.

This week park rangers closed the No. 1 Trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail and return loop route on the Sunset Trail at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The trail leads to Berry Creek Falls, Silver Falls and the Golden Cascade in one of the prettiest canyons in California.

A week ago, rangers counted 15 fallen old-growth redwoods on the trail en route to the falls and another 10 on the way out. Later, ranger Alex Tabone assessed the damage again and said the number had grown to 50. That includes one massive section on the Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail, he said, that has been interrupted by a landslide roughly 400 yards long and 400 yards wide that tossed old-growth redwoods in a heap.

“There’s this big pile of old-growth trees,” he said. “There’s a trail under there some place. I saw this guy on the other side, trying to figure out how to get through, and decided we have to close this trail down.”

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