Why visiting world's tallest tree could land you in jail

A collection of redwood trees in California.
A collection of redwood trees in California. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – The world's tallest tree is officially off-limits.

The National Park Service announced last week that anyone found in the area of Hyperion, a redwood tree located along the Northern California coast in Redwood National Park, could receive up to a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.

Hyperion was discovered by naturalists in 2006 and is certified by Guinness World Records as the tallest tree in the world, with a height of 115.92 meters (380 feet).

The sequoia is "located off-trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy 'bushwhacking'" to reach it, officials from the park service said in a release. Despite the remote location, the tree has become a popular destination for travel bloggers and enthusiasts, resulting in devastating damage to the habitat around Hyperion.

For example, visitors stepping on the tree have caused degradation around its base and there are no longer ferns in the area because of trampling. In addition, Leonel Arguello, the park's Chief of Natural Resources, told SFGATE that trash and human waste was found around the tree as people were creating side trails around it to use the bathroom.

Park officials downplayed how impressive Hyperion is to see and that the view "doesn’t match its hype."

"Hyperion's trunk is small in comparison to many other old-growth redwood trees and its height cannot be observed from the ground," officials said. "There are hundreds of trees on designated trails that are more impressive to view from the tree's base."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images