PA old growth areas
23, 2006 19:39 PDT
I've been to a number of these sites. Unless you really have a
hankering for exploring lots of area to find minimal results,
suggest maybe visiting some different old growth Central PA
instead. Then again, they are nice wilderness areas, it's just
and old trees are pretty slim in the following areas:
Johnson Run N.A. - nice little natural area, it's been reported
old growth, but I didn't find anything of real stature. I barely
120ft for their few biggest white pines in the valley. There are
select old trees. I've been told there is dwarf old growth
the ridge top, I just didn't go high enough up in elevation to
I was looking for reported bigger stuff in the valleys. There's
logging road that goes right down the main stream of this site
put in somewhere in the mid to late 1800's.
Lower Jerry Run N.A. - LOTS of area to explore here, just bring
map, compass, GPS unit, sturdy hiking boots, and plenty of
woods, tics, elk, and rattlesnakes. Lots of
"elevation" to explore
here. Old growth E. hemlock in scattered areas... old logging
take you to the small area they left. VERY WILD. I've probably
close to 15 miles at this site and still haven't seen it all.
Interesting topography. I'm still holding out hope for some
sized trees on the lower elevations near Sinnemahoning Creek.
Wykoff Run N.A. - been on the edge of it, there is supposed to
ancient old growth hemlock here but the area suffered serious
damage a number of years ago. Can't recal if it was associated
1985 storms. I was told the best of it was down and only a
big/old hemlock were left.
Quehanna Wild Area - huge area that encompasses all the above
Forest H. Dutlinger N.A. - it's on my list, haven't been there
From the ones I've been to in central PA so far, I'd say the
impressive site was Snyder-Middleswarth N.A. Their hemlocks
best we have at Cook, it's just a smaller area, very steep
growth hemlock in the valleys, turns to dwarf old growth oaks on
ridgetops. Tough walking on medicine ball sized boulders.
Another site to visit would be Detweiler Run N.A. This is
wild place. Lots of old growth. No impressive heights, but many
ancient small stature trees here. The path just skirts the old
on the western side of the stream. You have to get off the path
walk parallel to the stream on the east side. It's tough going,
look for deer paths for the easiest approach. This is the best
"rhodo-surfing" site I've come across so far in PA. I
through parts of it, and could only walk on top of other areas.
give a 10 on my PA rhodo-surfing index. I'm sure Will and Jess
chuckle at MY 10 rating compared to their sites down south. Many
ancient chestnut oaks, white oaks, N. red oaks, hemlocks, and
here. A number of other species should reach 150 years or
pitch pine, yellow birch, black birch, red maple, tuliptree. I
getting up to the eastern ridgetop, but ran out of time. It was
growth as far as I was able to get up. It just became smaller
the higher up in elevation. VERY WILD. Supposedly the last wolf
state was shot here.
Alan Seeger N.A. is another must see. It's very close to
and Bear Meadows N.A. (old growth spruce/balsam fir bog - cored
spruce here to ~217). Alan Seeger has some VERY old hemlock and
gum. Nice tulips, but small area. Very thick rhododendron
I'd be willing to say that the oldest hemlocks at Detweiler Run,
every bit as old as the ones that were accurately cored at Alan
(~500+ years - Abrams, Orwig, et. al. data I believe). The hard
finding a tree you can get a good core from though at Detweiler.
There's got to be a number of trip reports on many of these
already on the ENTS list, I just haven't dug back in to find
Ernie Ostuno is my 'go-to' guy for central PA old growth areas.
hasn't visited them all, he's probably visited a good 95% of
believe he was at Forest H. Dutlinger and could describe that
You can't lose with any site you choose, regardless of my
They're all unique in their own special way. The more different
growth habitats you visit, the better you'll be able to identify
North-Central PA old growth areas
23, 2006 22:43 PDT
Thanks for the info about those areas. I'm kind of in the mood
tromping around in some of those really wild and romote areas
even if the
big tree finds turn out to be minimal. I've been hankering to
get out of
McConnells Mill and into a really big area. McConnells Mill is
but is somewhat of an oasis being surrounded by flat boring
I've been able to explore a few more areas these past two weeks,
the flood plain where I found the 137.5 sycamore and the 142'
(Remember that I first measured them from high up on the other
side of the
river). I was hoping to find more giants, but didn't. I doubt
area is old growth. It's probably just a good growing area.
There was a
nice silver maple with about 3 or 4 huge trunks coming out of
the ground and
over the river. It's not very tall, though.
Back at Walnut flats, I was able to measure another one of the
elms I found
with Carl. I think now that they are almost surely slippery
of the thick undergrowth I had to estimate where the bottom of
the tree was
with the clinometer, so I probably didn't get the most accurate
possible. I got 126.3' and 9'0"CBH. I will only put the
height accuracy at
+/- 2ft at this point. Next time I'll attach a white ribbon
trunk at some height above the surrounding brush so I can get an
I was upset to see that the 121.7' sugar maple lost about 1/2 of
A huge branch of the top section came down recently. There
goes the Rucker
Index, I thought. I remeasured it carefully and got 122.7', so
it must not
have been the highest part that came down. It appears to have
put up some
nice sized twigs this spring.
I found two more lower 140's poplars (that makes about 8 or 9
now) and a
120.9ft beech. That's about it.
As far as the Rucker goes, with the new elm and the extra 1ft
for the sugar
maple, it now stands at 130.62. This assumes that the elm
Here's the list:
As of 5/13/2006
Slippery Rock Creek Gorge Rucker Index:
(?) Ash 6'7" 137.7'
Bitternut(?) Hickory 5'10" 132.7'
S. Elm 9'0" 126.3'
N. Red Oak 9'7" 123.1'
E. Hemlock n/a 122.8'
Rucker Index = 130.62
I think it is getting to the point where it is going to flatten
I stumble on another walnut flats type of area with a bunch of
I kinda think this isn't going to happen. I'm still hoping for a
Red Oak. I found one on Walnut Flats on my way out last time,
have time to measure it. I haven't seen very many hemlocks that
will top the one you found, but I think there is still some hope
I'm also hoping that some of the other 135+ ashes that I found
will turn out
to be a different species that the one on the list, which I now
be a black ash and not a white one like I'd first thought. The
them were not far enough out for me to tell. Hopefully, they
will be next
time. Another 135+ft tree would be a good boost for the Rucker,
the last big one we'll see, though. I am confidient that it will
pass 131 and hope that it will break 132, but I doubt it will go
that barring some extraordinary find in a new area.
I was hoping to put all of this together for a post to the ENTS
I'd like to wait till I get some surer measurements of the elm
and a few
other trees that I only have rough straight up shots of. Maybe
There's some really bad news for the park in general. A mining
started work strip mining right up to the park property and the
It will go about 1/2 mile or more down along the rim from the
climing area clear down to Eckert Bridge. An entire waterfall
will be lost.
Who knows what kind of damage will result, but the EPA,
approved the whole thing.
The land that borders right on the big woods old-growth area is
sale I noticed. If I could afford it, I would jump at the chance
to buy it.
Not possible, though. I just hope that the
strip miners don't get ahold of
it. It would spell the end of the buffer for that area. What
damage the loss of water drainage to the trees in the big woods
I shutter to think about.
I'm thinking we'd better get those trees on the map and fast. I
keeping them a secret is probably no longer the best option.
Looking forward to the 7th.
North-Central PA old growth areas
24, 2006 10:41 PDT
Super!!! McConnells Mill breaks the 130 RI mark! That's the 3rd
130 RI site
for PA, and a solid 5th place in the RI standings for the
If your ~126ft slippery elm measurement stands, it could be the
known for the northeast! The tallest we have right now is a
6.7ft CBH x
124.6ft specimen located in the Walnut Creek Gorge in Erie
Definitely looking forward to getting out of the office on 6/7!
North-Central PA old growth areas
24, 2006 11:34 PDT
Oops. My last post was intended to be just a quick update to
didn't realize that it was the ENTS address in the
"to:" window. No big
I started to write up an ENTS post last week, but thought I'd
wait until I
had a chance to go back to McConnells Mill and get some more
measurements of a lot of trees that I've recently found. There
are also a
few questions as to the species of certain trees, some ashes and
in particular, that need to be cleared up. I'm still waiting for
a few trees.
Most of my recent trips to the park and the Slippery Rock Creek
including one with Carl Harting a couple weeks ago, have been
exploratory trips to new areas. I did careful double sine
only the biggest trees and made just quick straight-up laser
measurements of a lot of others. (The measurements of the trees
Rucker Index are all double sines.) When I get back to certain
get proper double sine measurements and good identifications,
another more thorough post.
North-Central PA old growth areas
26, 2006 15:37 PDT
I would estimate heights at Dutlinger N.A. weren't that great
hemlocks, with most in the 100-110 foot range. You could be the
person to actually measure heights there. All I had was a tape
and got some girths.
Johnson Run N.A. is nice for a couple reasons. First, it's easy
to, with just a hike of a few hundred feet up a power line
Route 120. Also, they have some old growth sycamores there,
pretty rare in PA. Again, like Dale said, heights weren't that
impressive, although there are quite a few fat white pine.
Here's my notes for Wykoff Run:
There are small pockets of old growth here. I found an area
stream that had three old growth hemlock and one large white
Several other areas had large white pine, though they probably
be counted as old growth. Big old stumps are everywhere, most of
with black burn marks on them. Stands of younger white pine and
are scattered throughout the area.
Nothing too impressive there as it was almost completely cutover
the logging era from what I saw.
Here's a couple suggestions for your list in additon to the ones
Hemlock Trail Natural Area in Laurel Hill State Park:
I plan on returning to this place this year to get a photo of
ancient hemlock which was cored to 540 years old back in 2000.
As far as
I know this was the oldest ring count for any currently living
hemlock in the eastern U.S. (someone correct me if I'm wrong).
It is a
very easy hike as it is located right near the PSU agricultural
area at Rock Springs, PA, right off Route 45 a few miles south
Forest Dutlinger Natural Area, PA
02, 2006 23:54 PDT
Years ago I entertained the idea of using an ultra-light to fly
ridges and identify old growth stands, but alas, technology now
us to do the flyovers from our easychairs. Many times during the
months I would spot a patch of evergreens on the ridges of
while driving through the valleys and wonder how old they were.
times I would look at them through a pair of binoculars and see
conical tops of what appeared to be mature, if not old growth
Only once did I actually hike up the ridge to check them out and
case they did indeed turn out to be old growth.
Check out this view of part of Potter County:
It's amazing at how thorough the cutting of hemlock in the
valleys was back in the logging era through the Hammersley area,
have to think that in an area as big as this a few stands of
have survived. Yet I have never seen any mention of there being
growth in all of Potter County. Let's zoom in on a couple
There's a few dark patches here, let's go closer in:
Definitely intact stands of evergreens on the valley sides and
ridge tops but is there any way to discern the age or species of
Here's another interesting area:
Zoom in of the evergreens:
At least these seem like they could be observed from a car, as
roads nearby. This seems like it would be an interesting
those with the time and inclination.