California is known for many beautifully natural features. Among the most magnificent are the sequoia trees in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range. Sometimes simply called, “Giants,” these trees draw millions of visitors from around the world each year.
The Redwood Empire where this “Land of Giants” resides sits within Sequoia National Park. The Redwood Sky Walk opened recently within the Sequoia Park Zoo, a zoo in the Northern California forest. Officially, it was the town of Eureka that was the lucky recipient of this maze of elevated bridges and interconnected platforms. Within just a few weeks of its June opening, this pedestrian bridge has become the reason behind the nearly double number of visitors to the region.
The new Redwood Sky Walk sits 100 feet above the forest floor, close to one-third of the way up the amazing trees which could reach up to 250 feet. The platforms weave beautifully between the old-growth and second-growth trees providing a panoramic view of the redwood floor; in addition to the surrounding flora and fauna. It is perhaps the first time admirers can get a real appreciation for these majestic living things (without straining their necks).
The self-guided experience is the longest pedestrian skywalk in the western United States. With a length of 1,104 feet, the second closest competitor is the Grand Canyon Skywalk at 69-feet-long. The skywalk was designed with a combination of walkways, platforms, and rope bridges. Without stairs, lucky visitors move into the trees with the help of gently sloping ramps.
The adventure begins on the Ascent Ramp which is 360-feet in length; this “short” slope simulates a virtual climb to the tallest known living coastal redwood that stands at 380 feet. Upon completing this part of the journey, visitors reach the Launch Deck where the bridges and interconnected platforms are clearly visible.
There is an optional part of the route which is called the Adventure Segment… a 36-inch-wide collection of suspension bridges. The trickiest section calls for traversing bridges; here, guests can either push forward or turn around. Those that choose to forge ahead are treated with a view of the trees called the “ancient kings of the forest;” they are confirmed to be 200 years old.
Initial plans were introduced in 2018 and at first, $1.7 million was allocated for this part of the zoo facility’s renovation. However after further research, it was concluded that the skywalk’s draw will be substantial and as such, the Eureka, Arcata, and Humboldt Lodging Alliances added an additional $600,000 for this project. The alliances then requested that the design be “more adventurous;” this resulted in another 100-foot-high catenary-style bridge that is suspended solely from the two ends.
Synergy, an Oregon-based company that has designed similar projects, was slated to construct the walkway. The company specializes in the design and installation of challenge courses, zip-line tours, and aerial adventure parks. The local company called Greenway Partners, provided the initial designs for the project.
Jim Campbell-Spickler from Eco-Ascension Research and Consulting, an organization in charge of monitoring and protecting the redwoods’ health said (courtesy of American Way Magazine), “It is exhilarating up there. It is the perfect spot to look up and see the architecture and individuality of the trees. You feel like an animal or a bird- you’re in a different space.” We can’t wait to experience it for ourselves!