Whether you’ve just come from San Francisco up the coast, or across the world, as soon as you arrive at HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse you’ll know that this is somewhere you’ll have to visit again. This home-away-from-hostel is a beachy haven in the summer time, and a cozy base for exploring the area’s winter wildlife in the cooler months. Each time you visit, you’re likely to find something new to add to your Pigeon Point bucket list, whether it’s a day trip this time, or just booking the perfect half hour in the hot tub the next.
The hostel is close to many bucketlist-worthy hiking trails leading to scenic vistas and secret natural wonders, and we thought we’d share a local favorite that leads to a magical tree. The Candelabra tree sits at the end of a trail in Butano State Park, a fifteen-minute drive from HI Pigeon Point, and got its name because of the huge trunks jutting out from a main one so the redwood looks like nature’s candle holder.
Butano is a great spot to see some of the natural diversity of this part of Northern California: there are the famous giant redwoods that depend on the summer fog, a wetland that comes alive in winter when wildlife breed, coastal grasslands that shield hunting bobcats and coyotes, and an oak grove with sprouting mushrooms in January.
This time around, since you’re looking for the Candelabra tree, park your car at Gazos Creek Road on the southern end of the park. Follow the trail for about two miles through the oak and redwood habitats with blackberry, coffee berry, and honeysuckle beds amongst the towers of trunks. The Candelabra tree is massive at nearly 20 feet around, and the branches sticking out of it are each as big and thick as a midsized redwood tree standing on its own. The hike to the candelabra is short and fairly easy, but you can take the trail further into the rest of the park for a full day’s worth of exploring.
And since it’s a short drive back to the hostel and the coast, you can be back in time to watch the sun set behind the Pacific, taking in the beauty and reminding yourself that you’ll have to come back.
HI USA Tip: Butano State Park is hosting docent-led walks to the Candelabra tree once a month from January to May. The hike is free, and along the way you’ll get to learn about the park and its habitats. Bring water, snacks, binoculars, and good hiking shoes!