Chestnut Branch and Kilby Branch
19, 2004 11:59 PST
Last weekend Michael Davie and I visited the upper section of
Branch, one of the streams in the lower section of the Big Creek
watershed. Both Will Blozan and Mike had measured some
trees scattered in the farmland along the lower section of the
we thought the narrower upper forks of the stream might still
there original forest. Dropping into the drainage from a gap
elevation, we immediately started seeing signs of logging on the
chestnut oak and mountain laurel covered slope. Where we
fork at around 3600', looked to be in the 65 to 75 year age
of forests in the area, but clearly had not been farmed.
black cherry were common along the rocky drainage with scattered
sugar maple, and bitternut hickory. The other forks of the
larger ridges on their south sides, so they flow through cooler,
environments. Young yellow birch, black birch, hemlock, red
silverbell formed the forest under those conditions. Slightly
down the value, the forest on the north facing slope draining
Chestnut Branch consisted of alternating swaths of hemlock-red
maple-fraser magnolia and boulderfieds dominated by basswood and
Kilby Branch drains from the southern edge of the Chestnut
watershed southeast into Big Creek. The relatively flat upper
part of the
drainage supports an open forest with many northern red oak, red
tuliptree in the canopy and an occasionally dense understory of
maple. Trees in the eight to ten foot range are common in the
many appear over 125 years old, but cut chestnut logs and the
an old skid trail also persist int the area. The hemlock and
forest in the highly sheltered area where the two forks of the
merge appears uncut. Tuliptrees in that area are well over 200
and appeared to reach approximately 12' x 140'. The neighboring
were somewhat smaller. The bottom of the drainage supports
tuliptree groves, like much of the rest of the Big Creek area,
appear more acidic and less diverse than the groves farther down
Species Cbh Height Comment
Ash, white 8'10" 146.2' easily the largest seen
Basswood, white NA 127.2'
Birch, black NA 105.6'
Birch, yellow NA 95.8' probably reaches 100' in area
Cherry, black NA 128.2' many comparable trees
Cherry, black 6'3" 131.0'
Cherry, pin 5'1" 83.6' dying, fallen one larger
Hickory, bitternut 11'8.5" ~127' remnant, old, massive
Hickory, mockernut 7'1" 131.1' by trail, park record?
Magnolia, fraser 6'8" 109.8'
Cherry, Black 10'0" ~110' near ridge top
Cherry, Black 6'9" 126.9'
Maple, red 12'2" ~110' remnant
Maple, red 8'3" 123.8'
Oak, chestnut 8'1.5" 122.7' young
Rhododendron 2'2" NA
Tuliptree NA 154.6'+ young, near bottom
Upper Chestnut Branch and Kilby Branch
19, 2004 14:47 PST
The mockernut is surely a new park height record. Ed Coyle and I
big one near the trail but on the "southwest" side of
Chestnut Branch. It
was almost a NC State Champion but missed by a few points.