A tree named Hyperion, which was discovered in 2006 and stands 115.92 meters (380 feet) tall, has been declared off limits to visitors by California’s Redwood National Park. The coast redwood is the world’s tallest living tree and its name derives from Greek mythology — Hyperion was one of the Titans and the father of sun god Helios and moon goddess Selene.
Hyperion is an off-trail tree that requires heavy ‘bushwhacking’ (the act of cutting one’s way through dense vegetation) in order to reach, yet has become increasingly popular due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites. Due to increased popularity, many people are visiting the area which has resulted in erosion and damage at the base of the tree as well as secondary issues caused by an influx of people: limited cellphone service, injuries from hiking through difficult terrain, etc.
Human visitors to Sequoia National Park are creating an environmental hazard around the park’s giant sequoia trees, said Ernie Arguello, a superintendent at the park. “The problem we’re facing is that people are getting further from the trail and creating side trails just so they can use the bathroom,” he said. “They leave used toilet paper and human waste — it’s not a good thing.” The biggest threat to these trees is wildfires, which have been plaguing the state of California in recent years. In 2021, officials took extreme measures to protect some of the world’s biggest trees from fire during the devastating KNP Complex Fire in Sequoia National Park. General Sherman — considered the world’s largest tree by density, not height, as it is shorter than Hyperion — was wrapped in an “aluminum-based burn-resistant material” as a way to keep it safe during this fire.