Vashon Island Bike Tree
A bike being "eaten" by a tree is the real Vashon legend behind popular children's book, "Red Ranger Came Calling."
A rusted, dated bicycle is suspended inside the trunk of a tree, roughly 7 ft. off of the ground. It’s as if the towering giant had tried to absorb or “eat” the two-wheeler and quit, defeated halfway through the process, leaving the bike carcass suspended within the living wood forever.
There are many stories and just as many questions about how the bike ended up in its awkward predicament. A boy tied it to a tree before going off to war, never to return. A child chained it there and got busy growing up, so the tree took it into an embrace. Artist, cartoonist and author Berkeley Breathed, who grew up on Vashon Island, wrote his version of what happened in a children’s book called Red Ranger Came Calling, weaving it into an elaborate Christmas story.
While many are enchanted with the tree and its strange captive, some think it’s a hoax. Many have speculated that there is no way the tree could have “picked up” the bicycle if it had been left leaning against it on the ground, as trees do not, by nature, grow up from the trunk, but from the top. The less cynical have pointed out that since the bike seems to be from the 1910s, the tree could have easily been a sapling, and a forked branch may have been weaved between parts of the bike and lifted it up over the decades.
Either way, the bike remains, suspended inside the knotted wood, and is a popular stop for hikers and bike lovers alike.
Know Before You Go
The bike tree is off of Vashon Highway (which runs between the Seattle and Tacoma ferry ports on either end of the island) on the northeast corner of the Vashon Highway and SW 204 St. intersection, about 50-60 ft (very rough guesstimate) into the woods to the south of a King County metro bus stop on the highway.
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