Allegheny River Islands Wilderness Area: West Hickory to Tionesta (Buckaloons, King & Baker Islands) Wednesday, October 03, 2007 10:46 PM
  Dale Luthringer


 Tuesday, 9/5/07 , was the last day of our expedition.  Beautiful weather, it was going to be another absolutely gorgeous day.  I got up early to measure a few hawthorne at the Buckaloons before we broke camp.  This national forest recreation area is loaded with nice dotted hawthorne specimens.  Edís eagle eye for noteworthy hawthorne rang true again.  First hawthorne came to 4.6ft CBH x 40ft high on site 23.  This WAS the current state champ dotted hawthorne .  Second one came to 3.1ft CBH and a lofty 45.4ft high on site 16.  Easily a new state height record, possibly a new Northeast U.S height record as well.  Bob, what do you have for hawthorne up your way?  Will B., Will F., Jess, what do you guys get for hawthorne down there?  I didnít get any crown measurements on these trees since we found a number of better specimens throughout the trip.

We then packed up and headed down river to set up vehicle shuttle logistics.  Today, weíd start from the West Hickory bridge and pull out just upstream from Tionesta, a total of 5.2 miles.  We were looking forward to having extra time to spend exploring King and Baker Islands .  Only one problem, I didnít anticipate weíd make it this far down river and didnít have an updated sticker for my canoe since we were going to use an agency controlled boat launch.  To make a long story short, we spent about 2hrs dodging the Fish & Boat Commission Nazis, before we could launch and pick up Tony downstream.

Once Tony was on board, it was just a short hop to King Island .  I didnít want to spend a lot of time here, since I had fairly well saturated this island earlier with measurements, but I did want to show Tony & Ed some of the exceptional sycamore and silver maple on the island.  We re-measured the old bulbous 6 stem silver maple I first measured back on 6/21/05 .  It now stands at 20.8ft CBH x 103ft tall x 79.5avg spread.  Also re-measured a sweet single stem silver maple to 18.1ft CBH x 104.3ft high x 70.5ft avg spread for a total of 339 AF Points.   

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 Dale and Anthony debarking on King Island
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 Large Silver Maples with Knotweed underneath.
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 Huge Multi-trunk Silver maple - 20.8(6x) 103      79.5ft avg spread, 1st measured in  2005

 Single trunk Silver Maple -  18.1      104.3    70.5ft avg spread, 339 AF Points, 1st measured in 2005  

Re-measured a previous sycamore that only grew 1tenth of foot in over two years.  In June of 2005 I had it at 14.1ft CBH x 119.5+ft high, two years later it came in at 14.2ft CBH x 120ft high.  Sure would be interesting to see how fast sycamore grow throughout its life compared to different soil types and competition.  Iíve yet to count rings or core any sycamore, so I have virtually no feel for how fast they can grow on certain sites.  A number of the sycamore here have the potential for great age, but Iíve yet to core or count rings on any large trees of this species.  

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 Large Hawthorn -  4.1above   6.4below, 39.3 ft tall,   43.5ft avg crown  122 AF Points


 Butternut -  6.4  cbh,  66.1+ tall

Ed and Tony spent a good bit of time tracking down hawthorne and measuring butternut.  Ed & I ended up coming back to King Island a couple weeks later, more to come on this in a future post.  

We then packed up and headed to the last island on our list, Baker Island .  To say the least, Baker Island was a complete surprise to me in terms of tall sycamore and bitternut hickory.  Previous descriptions stated that Baker Island was hit by the major category IV or V tornado that swept through the state in 1985.  Now that I think back, I remember riding the high water that was associated with this storm on a canoe race two days after the storm had passed.  We made record time due to the high water, but barely made the race on time due to being re-routed around blocked roads from storm damage.  The towns of West & East Hickory and Tidoute had major damage with homes and lives lost.  Baker was definitely hit hard, pretty much the entire bottom half of this island was devoid of any intact large trees, and dominated by a sprawling grassland with young butternut coming up like patches of staghorn sumac.  The up-stream half of the island was much more impressive.  

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 Slingshot Sycamore
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 Sycamore - 12.1  cbh    145.5    new PA height champ  
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   6.5 girth,   25 ft. tall, girth taken at 1.5ft up from base due to multi-stems at 4.5ft, 30ft avg crown  
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 "Snaking" Basswood Tree.

 We landed at the top of the island and worked down the west side.  Tony was coming in on the right, and Ed was covering the left flank.  It wasnít long before we got into an impressive stand of sycamore.  I glanced to my right and noticed a fat sycamore, then slowly looked up the trunk, it just kept going.  Turns out it ended up being a new state height champ at 12.1ft CBH x 145.5ft high.  I just find this height amazing since it was growing on completely flat terrain.  I believe sycamore, growing in the right location with the right competition for sunlight, should be able to grow to even more impressive heights in Pennsylvania .  There were a number of sycamore here that wouldíve made it into the 130ft class interspersed with 110ft class bitternut hickory.  Had a nice hackberry in the center of the grove that went to 9.7ft CBH x 81.6ft high.  By the end of the day we were able to add three more sycamore into the 12x100 club, one of which also being the new state sycamore height record.  

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 10.7  cbh    68 ft. tall,  top ripped off by 1985 storm
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 Sycamore shoots on a partially fallen tree.

 Dale among the Hawthorns

We did a thorough search of the island while wading through a foot snagging grassland coming back up to the top of the island on the east bank.  Ed had point, but was taken out by a gramanoid booby trap that wrapped around his ankles.  I almost disappeared down a sizeable woodchuck hole.  Tony had our ď6Ē, and was the only one left unscathed.  It was definitely difficult walking.  Terrain soon tapered back into a shorter stand of silver maple and fat sycamore as we got closer to our starting point. 

The dayís stats follows:

9/5/07    (Frank, Kelly, Luthringer)


Species                        CBH     Height   Comments

Hawthorne sp.               3.1        45.4      site 16

Hawthorne sp.               4.6        40         site 23


King Island

Species                        CBH     Height   Comments

 Butternut                       6.4        66.1+

Hawthorne sp.               4.1above 39.3    43.5ft avg crown


Silver maple                   20.8(6x) 103      79.5ft avg spread, 1st measured in  2005

Silver maple                   18.1      104.3    70.5ft avg spread, 339 AF Points, 1st measured in 2005

Sycamore                     14.2      120       1st measured in 2005


Baker Island

Species                        CBH     Height   Comments

Am. Basswood              10.7      68         top ripped off by 1985 storm

Bitternut hickory            7.7        96

Bitternut hickory            10.2      102.2

Bitternut hickory            6.9        108.2

Bitternut hickory            7.3        109.7

Bitternut hickory            7.7        110.8

Black locust                  4.5        72+

Butternut                       8.8        54+

Common hackberry        9.7        81.6      beautiful tree

Dotted hawthorne           6.5        25         girth taken at 1.5ft up from base due to multi-stems at 4.5ft, 30ft avg crown

Silver maple                   13.7      72+

Silver maple                   12.3(2x) 84+

Sugar maple                  7.9        78

Sycamore                     11.4      N/A

Sycamore                     11         114.1+

Sycamore                     13.8      117

Sycamore                     8          119.1

Sycamore                     12.5      121.2

Sycamore                     9.3        123

Sycamore                     12.1      145.5    new PA height champ

Yellow birch                   6          N/A


Species present but not measured = black willow, staghorn sumac, vitus sp., white ash

Invasives = multiflora rose

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 Multi-trunked Silver Maple on King Island

By the time we finished the entire four day expedition, we had documented a number new hawthorne state champ and height records, a slew of personal largest species measures, and a new state sycamore height record.  We explored 6 different islands in the wilderness area, and noted trees on 7 of them.  In all, we canoed a total of 17 miles along one the most picturesque rivers in the state while being blessed with absolutely exceptional weather.  It was truly an incredible trip with great friends, and one that I will cherish for quite some time.


Edward Frank       Thursday, October 04, 2007 4:01 PM
Excellent post and description of the islands.  I really don't have anything to add that hasn't been said in one of the other posts.  I wanted to say something about teamwork.. It makes measuring much easier.  Someone can provide a base position, you can rotate around and measure crown spread, you can push each other to find the tallest top.  Tony paddled one day and I paddled the next.  (Dale paddled all the time.)  Not only is it more efficient, it is also more fun to explore and measure with friends.
Dale Luthringer     Thursday, October 04, 2007 4:16 PM

Yes, can't stress teamwork enough.  Going out there with you guys actually has
spoiled me.  Sure is nice to have someone available for a good basal reference
point, and another view of the top.  Allows for many more trees to be measured
more accurately in a shorter amount of time.

Achieving crown measurements is much easier with help as well.  I rarely do it
on my own because of time consumption (and I guess I just don't like taking
them).  Taking crown measurements with other Ents has also kept Lt. Wade off my
back...  oops, sorry about that, Scott.

Will Blozan     Friday, October 05, 2007 8:05 AM

Great report! I envy the time you had exploring new territory and finding so many new records. Maybe I can make it for another trip.



TOPIC: Allegheny River Islands Wilderness Area: West Hickory to Tionesta (
Buckaloons, King & Baker Islands)

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Tues, Oct 9 2007 4:55 pm
From: Matthew Hannum

I greatly enjoyed the entire tour of the Allegheny River Islands -
little slices of a forgotten world that man has thankfully left alone
for the most part. Great reports and nice photos!


TOPIC: Allegheny River Islands Wilderness Area: West Hickory to Tionesta (
Buckaloons, King & Baker Islands)

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Oct 10 2007 8:01 am
From: "Anthony Kelly"


This is a week late. Sorry. I just now read installment three of your
report on our Allegheny River Islands trip from the website. I've been busy
and was late getting onto the Google list and apparently missed your post.

Anyway, a great trip it was. I was most happy to be along. I have to agree
with what you guys said about teamwork. It really does make the measuring
faster and easier. It's also good for me who's only been at this for about
two years to see an old hand like you in action. I always learn something
when I'm out with you. It amazes me how quickly you can spot a tree with
some special charactristic and eyeball its height or whatever.

I'm looking forward to what hopefully will be many more PA "A-team"
excursions. It's too bad that Scott is way over on the other end of the

Anthony Kelly

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Wed, Oct 10 2007 9:57 am
From: djluthringer


All I can say is that I've learned from the best. Will & Bob still kick my butt
with their master laser yielding techniques. Can't hold a candle to 'Six Gun
Leverett' and 'B.A. Blozan'...

Yes, I'm sure Scott's feeling pretty lonesome about now, but he's got all that
big stuff down at Fairmont to keep him company.

Glad to have you along. You and Ed made the memories that will last for a long


TOPIC: Allegheny River Islands Wilderness Area: West Hickory to Tionesta (
Buckaloons, King & Baker Islands)

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Thurs, Oct 11 2007 2:45 pm
From: "Jess Riddle"

Dale, Ed, Tony;

Your trip description made for great reading. It sounds like the trip
was a great experience, and the photos of the hawthorns and silver
maples were impressive.