Virtual Guidebook to the Northern California Coast and Coast Ranges
Mattole River
Humboldt County California


For hundreds of years Indians of the north coast met under a giant madrone tree near Honeydew on the Mattole River. It was located by botanist Willis Linn Jepson in 1902. The "Council Madrone" was the largest specimen of its species, 96 feet high and 113 feet wide. I read about it in Jepson's book "Trees of California" in 1970 and made a trip especially to see it. Those were days when trespassers were shot at in rural areas and it was on private property, so I slipped through the fence just at dusk and enjoyed an hour of solitude in the dark under its wide-spreading branches.

I returned several times over the next few decades and was pleased to see that it was no longer off-limits. When I started shooting 360 degree panoramas it was one of my first subjects (shot on film, currently awaiting remastering). Then on Februry 3, 2000, a windstorm brought down the veteran tree. I eventually got back to document its remains.

Destructive logging in the Mattole region in the 1950's devastated the streams and river channel, and in turn the salmon and steelhead populations. Restoration and stewardship are now local priorities. The King Range rises west of the Mattole Valley, 50,000 acres of wilderness centered on 4088 foot high King Peak, dropping precipitously to the Lost Coast on the other side.



 thumbnail

The Mattole River at A.W. Way Park

(April 25, 2004)


 thumbnail

Gravel bar on the Mattole River

(April 25, 2004)


 thumbnail

Along the road between Honeydew and Ettersburg

(April 26, 2004)


 thumbnail

The collapsed Council Madrone, south side

(April 26, 2004)


 thumbnail

The collapsed Council Madrone, north side

(April 26, 2004)


Next Locality: Black Sands Beach