Taking the idea of "nearby nature" to heart, and wanting to honor our teenage daughter's desire to spend more time in it, we recently built a treehouse nestled in the redwood trees by our house. Anna had long enjoyed a special stand of Cathedral Redwoods, which get their name by growing in a circle around a host stump or tree. This circle has about half a dozen trees, each about 150 feet tall.

But she needed a better way to get there - our land is extremely steep, and soft and slippery with needles, leaves, branches and, often, mud. There was no trail. Even if you were to make your way up on foot, chances are you'd slide back down on your bottom. This is what much of the land looks like. It's shady redwood forest with lots of ferns and bay trees.

Being more visionary than handy, we called on some handy friends to help design and build a trail with a switchback, and then some stairs to get up the steepest part of the hill.

The trail is one that was already used by local deer and just had to be widened. (We're hoping the deer appreciate it.)

The steps are made of copper-injected wood. We wanted something that would stand up to the weather in this damp spot. We also wanted a banister for safety.

The deck has a pier-and-post cement foundation, to make it sturdy and raise it above the forest floor.

The platform is close to our house but far enough away and in deep foliage, so that it feels private. It's a great place to read and daydream, to the sounds of birds and frogs and, if it has rained hard enough, water running down a natural stream.

Anna is very happy there. She wants to decorate with prayer flags and chairs for friends (she says a sofa). When the rain stops we are going to hang this colorful, handwoven Mayan hammock that she picked out from a mother-daughter company called La Casa Mexicana.

We know the treehouse is going to get a lot of use. One of its great benefits, which we have already experienced, is that it gets us up into the land by our house, which we had been looking at but not walking on because of the steepness. It's still steep past the treehouse, but not quite as much, and from there, the forest opens up. We took a walk through it the other day and found early spring wildflowers and all sorts of other things. I will tell you about them in my next post.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, La Casa Mexicana

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Comment by Jenni Frankenberg Veal on August 25, 2010 at 6:51pm
Thanks for letting me know about your treehouse blog. How exciting that your teenage daughter wants a treehouse - you have obviously done something right! I have been surrounded by teens lately who don't want to go outdoors - they want to play on computers. Which is why I think we need more treehouses in the world! Thanks for your encouragement and sharing your treehouse story with me.
Comment by Ernie McLaney on March 30, 2010 at 5:44pm
I was lucky enough to live on a dead end street as a child, and at the end of the street was a very large track of woods. My friends and I built a tree house with three levels. It wasn't much to look at but it was our secret get away. We spent many a summer day there, from sun up to sun set.
Wish I had taken pictures.

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