Highways 1 and 101 meet at Leggett, where you’ll find the Chandelier Drive Thru Tree, one of the three remaining drive through trees in Northern California. The magnificent redwood is named for its branches, which jut out dramatically starting about 100 feet off the ground, giving it the look of a living candelabra.
The tree itself is more than 275 feet high, with an opening of around 7 feet high and 6 feet wide cut into the trunk in the early 1930s by Charlie Underwood, whose family has owned the tree and the surrounding redwood grove since the 1920s. It is believed that the tree is about 2,000 years old. It’s certainly one of the most photogenic trees you’ll ever see!
And you will want to immortalize your drive thru tree experience with a few photos in this unique selfie location. Keep in mind that cars were considerably smaller when Mr. Underwood took his axe to the ancient redwood trunk, so you may have to fold in your car mirrors or even walk through if your car doesn’t quite fit. Either way, you will appreciate the drama of passing though a living witness to hundreds of years of history as you make your way through the ancient tree.
Once you have driven thru the tree, you can pick up some charmingly kitschy souvenirs in the gift shop, picnic in the pretty meadow overlooking the duck pond, or stretch your legs on the hiking trails that wend through the surrounding redwoods before getting back in your car.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of redwoods, stop in at the Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve just a few miles north of Leggett, where you’ll find a beautiful grove of redwoods, a waterfall, and swimming in the Eel River.
The Chandelier Tree is located at 67402 Drive Thru Tree Rd. in Leggett. It is open year-round except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Call 707-925-6464 for hours; they vary according to the season but are generally 8:30 am to 5:30 pm in the winter and 8:30 am to 8:00 pm in the summer. Summer is the most popular time to visit, and you may encounter lines during those months. The cost is $10 per car.