A few miles before the traveler reaches Seaside, hidden on the north side of Hwy 26, was one BIG tree. There were a few signs, but it was all too easy to zip right by in the press of heavy Coast traffic, and never realize you just missed experiencing Oregon's largest tree.
In a State blessed with many giant tree specimens of all species, this coastal Sitka Spruce was the Champ. At least in the category most commonly accepted, that of "dbh," which stands for "diameter breast high." The tape put around this 750 year old tree needed to be over fifty feet long-- 52.5 feet to be exact. My son exclaimed that the longest dimension of our whole house is less than that! The tree stood (see update note) slightly over 200 feet high, and appeared to have had it top blasted off at least once by lightening in the past, as a large scar snaked down its mighty trunk (visible in the bright frame about fifty feet above the boys' heads)....TERRIBLE UPDATE 2008. This giant tree was snapped off like a twig by the "Great Coastal Gale" of early December 2007. If you go to Google Earth and zoom in to the tree's location, there are pictures of the sad sight. Whole swathes of coastal forests were laid flat by this event, which some experts say was the localized strength of a category two hurricane... One cheering detail that I noticed in a picture taken about 9 months later was one large limb extending off into space near the top of the broken trunk-- it looked alive to me, so maybe this giant will eventually struggle back, and 200 years from now will be looking odd, but bigger yet!
GIANT REDWOODS IN SOUTHERN OREGON--- With this giant spruce eliminated, reports have reached me from reputable big tree sources of trees larger-yet than the big Sitka Spruce. They hide away in the remote Winchuck River Valley in extreme Southern Oregon, near the Coast and very near the California border. Given the known size of the biggest redwoods just over the border in California, I am easily convinced that Oregon hides redwoods that will take the official title of "Oregon's Largest" if/when they are documented properly.
Another of Oregon's giant trees, this time belonging to the Maple tree family, is actually THE WORLD'S LARGEST. It's located just 14 air miles to the northeast of the big Sitka spruce, near the tiny town of Jewell on Highway 202, the Nehalem Highway...It's a Big Leaf Maple, 35 feet in circumference 101 feet tall, and a spread of 90 feet. Wow. I sure hope it wasn't also destroyed in the December 2007 windstorm.