Whether explored solo or on guided tour, the private 1440 campus trails allow guests to feel in community with nature
A simple moment in the redwoods can be transformative, and 1440 Signature Experience faculty member and respected nature guide Gary Marcoccia thrives on teaching people how they can nourish their mind, body, and spirit through time spent in the wilds. A keen naturalist, ultra-runner, adventurer, kite surfer, and mountaineer who has traveled the world in discovery of nature's wonder, Gary guides guests on walks through the majestic redwood comprising the 75-acre 1440 campus while sharing information and anecdotes about the flora and fauna.
What many may not realize is that a mindful, leisurely stroll along campus trails is a significant part of the integrated learning experience for guests, helping supplement their program, healing, and self-discovery work. The trail system is available to all registered guests of 1440 to explore at their leisure or as a 1440 Signature Class, and Rest & Renewal packages such as the new Explore the Redwoods experience provide an even more in-depth experience into the power of Mother Earth.
"Some might come to a learning destination like 1440 in search of belonging, wholeness, or connection. Part of what I see happening here is a subtle reminder that we are all part of the shared community of living beings and as such, are intimately engaged with the flow, breath, and being of Nature," Gary says. "My invitation to those who attend my 1440 nature walks is to see, hear, taste, and touch grace, and the sacred that is present in Nature. To let go of the noise, distraction, compulsion to perform, and fear of rejection. To make space to live a portion of the 1440 minutes in your day curious, available, and surprised by joy."
With the growing awareness of forest bathing and importance of disconnecting from technology to charge the mind, body, and spirit energy, guided nature walks as part of the 1440 curriculum are a beneficial treat for those who partake. On any given day, hour-long walks traverse parts of more than 4 miles of walking trails, weaving their way through old growth redwoods, alongside the babbling Carbonera Creek, to the base of the 1,200-year-old Mother Tree, and to panoramas and seating areas perfect for meditation and inspiration.
"The dynamic relationship between humankind and Nature is an unbreakable bond that sustains, nurtures and heals us," Gary says. "When you listen to a running creek, walk among the towering redwoods, turn your face toward the sun, or take in the scents of the plant kingdom, you are connecting with the life-giving energy of Nature. The beauty of this powerful energy is that it subtly invites us to slow down, quiet the mind, and adopt gratitude to be our script."
In his own words, Gary shares his five can't-miss spots on the 1440 Multiversity campus trails, perfect for a deep breath, a scenic photo, or a quiet moment of reflection.
The Mother Tree
Lower Campus Trail at the Cathedral
"Most scientists agree that when you're standing in the shadow of old growth Coast Redwood trees, you are among only 5 percent of the original old-growth forest remaining worldwide. When I gaze at the Mother Tree, I find myself wondering what this 1,000-year-old-plus tree has stood witness to in her lifetime, and in doing so call to heart this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.'"
Lower Campus Trail, behind Oak and Madrone buildings
"This unique Coast Redwood tree, with its twisted spiral bark instead of vertical, can be easily found by walking up the paved hill that leads to Oak and Madrone and then entering the Lower Campus Trail at the end of the parking lot. You will quickly see the tree on your right. I've sent pictures of this tree to Coast Redwood researchers and they classified the corkscrew pattern as being uncommon, but not rare. There are numerous hypotheses out there, but I've yet to come across the definitive answer to the long-standing question on the cause of spiraling. One hypothesis suggests that prevailing winds and asymmetrical crown positions cause so much torque on the tree that it develops a spiral pattern in order to endure the mechanical torque loads imposed on it. Another hypothesis suggests that the tree is one of those rare beings that is hyper-tuned to the rotation of the earth. In the end, this phenomenon appears to be one of those mysteries of nature that we may never have an answer to."
The Acacia Tree Bench
Upper Summit Trail
"On a clear day, this vantage point allows guests to see the Pacific Ocean along with a silhouette of the Gabilan Mountain Range in the background. Depending on the time of year, this can also be a great spot to catch the sunset, or the full moon illuminating the treetops in the valley. My favorite early morning walk is to take Summit Trail with a stop at this acacia tree bench and then on to the Ridge Trail loop. When I'm at this location I often call to heart this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh: ‘When we live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere.'"
Furthest upstream point via Carbonera Trail
"This dead-end at the creek provides a beautifully wild secluded backdrop where one can simply sit and enjoy the soundscape. ‘Stillness. One of the doors into the temple,' is a quote by Mary Oliver that I often call to heart at this location."
The Circular Seating Area at the Lost Playground
"Coincidentally, this seating arrangement was a request that I made to the 1440 team. Talking circles, peacemaking circles, or healing circles, as they're often called, are deeply rooted in the traditional practices of indigenous people much like those who once inhabited the land that is now 1440. The symbolism of the circle, with no beginning and with nobody in a position of prominence, serves to encourage people to speak freely, thereby making sitting on the log rounds surrounded by the forest all the more special."