• Hyperion has grown popular with tourists ever since its discovery in 2006
  • Park officials have found trash and human waste in the area leading to the tree
  • Ferns integral to the Hyperion's root strength are no longer growing around its base

A soaring tree that's 380 ft high and holding the Guinness World Record at California's Redwood National Park is now off-limits to the general public to ensure its safety.

Park officials had previously reported having found trash and human waste on the trail leading to the tree. Now anyone spotted near the tree, which lies in a closed-off area at the park, will have to cough up a sizable fine and jail time.

The park stated that Hyperion, which holds the record for being the world's tallest living tree, is facing dangers from tree-enthusiasts who have been flocking the park.

"As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape - or will you be part of its destruction?" states the website.

Despite being located in an area that can only be reached after passing through very dense vegetation, people have found their way to visit Hyperion, which was made popular by bloggers, travel writers, and various websites since its discovery in 2006.

All the trampling from the heavy footfall has resulted in serious devastation and degradation, not just to the area surrounding the tree, but also to Hyperion's base.

The area around the tree was once populated by ferns that are important for root strength. Park officials said the epiphytes have now completely disappeared. Aside from causing danger to Hyperion and its surroundings, visiting the tree also means putting one's own safety at risk.

"If someone were to get hurt down there, it’d be a while before we could get to them and extract them," park's Chief of Natural Resources Leonel Arguello told San Francisco Gate. Hyperion is located in an area with zero cell phone reception and weak GPS service.

"There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste — it’s not a good thing, not a good scene," Arguello said. It was negatively impacting the vegetation and potentially damaging the root system of Hyperion.

"These are all reasons why we’re playing it safe and protecting our resources," Arguello further said, adding that Hyperion may lose the record to some other tree in the near future, which is also one of the reasons why there's no separate trail that leads to it.

"At some point, the top will blow out or some other tree will grow faster, and it won’t be the tallest tree. We don’t want to make yet another official trail that we have to maintain for a tree that likely won’t be the tallest tree in the future," he said.

A view of the W National Park in northern Benin May 28, 2009. Picture taken May 28, 2009. Julian Chevillot-African Parks /Handout via REUTERS
A view of the W National Park in northern Benin May 28, 2009. Picture taken May 28, 2009. Julian Chevillot-African Parks /Handout via REUTERS Reuters / JULIAN CHEVILLOT-AFRICAN PARKS