Kenwood Press


Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
News: 01/15/2020

Grandmother Oak was iconic, magnificent


Before the fall at the McCormick Addition to Sugarloaf State Park.


The long life of the Grandmother Oak, a coast live oak considered to be the largest of its kind in Sonoma County, came to an end recently.

Located in the McCormick addition of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, the oak was a destination for many hikers over the years, who were greeted by a tree of impressive proportions.

“Since the McCormick addition has been part of Sugarloaf, the tree was the most popular destination in that section of the park, with many hikers seeking the tree for its beauty and the solitude of its location,” said John Roney, Sugarloaf park manager.

It’s guessed that the Grandmother Oak toppled over in late October or early November in a windstorm.

Bill Myers and Dave Chalk, leaders of Bill & Dave Hikes, said that for over 20 years, they would take their hikers to the tree, often on the way to a lunch spot, taking in stunning views and sweeping vistas.

The tree was located majestically on a ridge atop a steep hill.

While it’s hard to say exactly how old the tree was, it’s possible it was 400-years-old or older.

Myers said he’s often heard from locals that, “Oak trees live for 200 years and then die slowly for 200 years.”

Periodically, Myers said his hikers would notice that a large branch had come down.

“We’d say, ‘Yeah, she’s getting pretty old.’ ”

Breck Parkman, retired California Senior State Parks Archaeologist, said that while the Grandmother Oak will be missed, it represents a new habitat for the many oaks it has “sired,” as well as other life forms who will seek shelter and food in the tree’s decaying remains.

“This grand old tree’s death is an important part of the cycle of life,” said Parkman. “Life will go on without her and because of her.”

The McCormick Addition to Sugarloaf exists thanks to the Perry family, which sold over 1,000 acres of their McCormick Ranch to Sonoma Ag + Open Space in the mid-1990s.

According to Sugarloaf’s Roney, Sandra Learned Perry and her family created an environmental education organization, Acorn Soupe, which took children to the ranch, always making sure to visit the Grandmother Oak.

Sonoma County-based LandPaths, an environmental stewardship non-profit, regularly brought school classes up to the tree and engaged in an activity that involved students encircling the tree while holding hands. It would usually take eight or nine students to close the circle around the massive Grandmother Oak.

The Grandmother Oak even inspired poetry, a testament to its impact and influence on mere mortals.

Tim Bacon, a frequent Bill & Dave hiker penned this:

Grandmother Oak

Once there were people who

worshipped oak trees, saw them as deities.

Set fires to protect them from fir trees

before those shadow casting demons could dwarf them.

Tribes who moved to the rhythms of blossomings

and harvests of solar sired fruits which when

ground up became the bones and sinew of their being.

They knew to whom their lives truly belonged.

We don’t eat acorns, aren’t dependent on them for survival.

Yet we come this way in humble reverence because

we can sense the power that resided here,

feel the strength in the massive trunk that remains,

even as we see the snapped off limbs

moldering in the soil that birthed them,

observe the holes bored into bark by creatures

that thrive on this magnificent flesh

or prey on those who do.

We who suffer our own not so gradual decay

can find inspiration in the green that emerges

from those branches still fired by the sun

discover that even in decline there persists the

opportunity to show our grandeur

to remind ourselves and others

as this tree instructs us today:

it is not what we have lost

but what endures that makes us divine.

Editor & Publisher
Email: alec@kenwoodpress.com

Recently Published:

02/15/2020 - Vote-by-mail ballots still available
02/15/2020 - Winter hike in the woods at Jack London
02/15/2020 - Experience Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
02/15/2020 - Volunteer training for Jack London State Historic Park
02/15/2020 - Homeless village settles in at Los Guilicos
02/15/2020 - Mark your calendar for the “FAWNdraiser”
02/15/2020 - Oakmont Golf gets second chance
02/15/2020 - Earthquakes, England and elections at the Sunday Symposium
02/15/2020 - Hike and learn about SDC and Sonoma Mountain
02/15/2020 - Hike Sugarloaf’s lower trails with Bill & Dave
02/15/2020 - Wind damage lingers, blocks lane
02/15/2020 - Funky Fridays funds go to local projects
02/15/2020 - The U.S. Capitol Dome – secrets spilled at Cal Club dinner
02/15/2020 - Tickets available for Big Heart Awards
02/15/2020 - GEK Rotary crab feed – get your tickets!
02/15/2020 - SV Mentoring volunteer info meeting
02/15/2020 - SVCAC looks at Springs housing/ hotel proposal
02/15/2020 - Protecting our oceans
02/15/2020 - The PAT – An open or shut case?
02/15/2020 - Glen Ellen, Mayacamas and VOM merger underway
02/15/2020 - Hip Hop therapy the topic at Hanna Boys Center
02/01/2020 - Bill & Dave lead a leisurely hike at Sugarloaf
02/01/2020 - Homeless move into Los Guilicos shelter
02/01/2020 - Sales tax for fire safety faces uphill battle
02/01/2020 - Advisory group gives support to cannabis dispensary

Community Calendar

Try your luck at Bingo
02/19/2020
more...
Symphony table game fundraiser at St. Patrick’s
02/20/2020
more...
Cal Alumni Club dinner features U.S. Capitol Fellow
02/20/2020
more...
Cal Club Dinner
02/20/2020
more...
Oakmont Farmers Market
02/22/2020
more...
Yoga Hike
02/22/2020
more...
Observatory open
02/22/2020
more...
Emmaus Inclusive Community service and potluck supper
02/23/2020
more...
Sons of Hermann German Club
02/25/2020
more...
Oakmont Kiwanis Club meets
02/27/2020
more...
Oakmont Farmers Market
02/29/2020
more...


Weather Underground PWS KCAKENWO2