Cook Forest 9/6/2005   Ed Frank & Carl Harting
  Sep 12, 2005 09:33 PDT 

Carl Harting and I (Ed Frank) met up in the parking lot of the Log Cabin Inn at
Cook Forest State Park on Tuesday Sept 06, 2005 at 11 am.   Carl wanted
to check out an area along the Bridal Trail. The Bridal Trail runs
along Browns Run, a tributary to Tom's Run, the largest stream flowing
through the park into the Clarion River.

Brown's Run Fungus2 web.jpg (65523 bytes) 

Chicken of the Woods Fungus along Browns Run

We began by ascending the Bridle Trail on the west side of Brown's Run.
The trail begins in dense second growth hemlock but the trees become
older second growth as you move upstream. This valley lies below the
Deer Meadows Old Growth Area that ENTS visited several years ago. We
measured several trees near where the Bridle Trail meets the Brown's Run

Species CBH Height

Black Cherry 9.6' 123.2'

Black Cherry 8.6' 131.7'

White Pine 6.7' 115.0'

Cucumber 6.9' 121.9'

We were not having much luck finding big cherry trees in this section.
There were some decent sized ones, but nothing really big. We were
looking at one cherry tree when Carl noticed a tree with big leaves
behind it. As we walked up we could both see it was a cucumber. This
was definitely the most exciting find so far. I knew it was over
100 feet tall, and that Dale had been excited about finding a 110+ foot
tree along the Paved Trail last year. So we set out to find its top.
Carl looked on one side and I explored the crown with the rangefinder on
the other. There were several tops, unbranched leaders
sticking up from the mass of the crown covered by large leaves. The
tree was entangled with a black cherry and a hemlock which made it
difficult to find an opening large enough to see these well, let alone
use the rangefinder. Carl got just under 115' perched on 2 downed
trees, while I managed to get one of the tops at around 110 feet. As I
swung around the tree I sighted a taller one, eventually finding a
location where I could shoot it through a crotch in a fronting cherry
tree. After Carl punched in the numbers we came up with a height of
121.9 feet. There were other tops, some of which may be higher, but
couldn't clearly see them through the canopies.

Brown's Run Cuke web.jpg (85937 bytes) Cucumber tree along Brown Run

I was feeling pretty good as we continued on. Carl took a photo of the
site so that we could find it easier the next time. One skinny black
cherry tree maybe 8" in diameter had a burl twice that size almost
adjacent to the large cucumber. A short distance further along we
crossed a bridge and headed back downstream along the Brown's Run Trail.
There were numerous colorful toadstools, and fungus decorating the
landscape, the weather was good, a nice walk in the woods. When we
arrived back at the cars I looked up the numbers for the biggest
cucumber tree in the park -123.5 feet - slightly taller than this one. 

Brown's Run Fungus3a web.jpg (53162 bytes) Fungus along Brown's Run

From here we went to measure a large white oak tree in a farmer's yard
along Lencer Drive. I had taken pictures of this tree last fall, but
didn't have instruments to measure it. 

Lencer Dr W Oak web.jpg (71104 bytes) White Oak along Lencer Drive

The owner wasn't home, but some construction workers were doing 
repairs in the back of the house, and after getting their permission we 
went to measure the tree.   It has a beautiful form and large girth, even 
if it is not that high. We measured it at 77.9 feet in height.  Clearly it
is a picture of a stereotypical open grown tree. We stretched the tape
around to find a girth of 18.2 feet. Next we measured the spread of one
of the branches - it extended out from the trunk further than the length
of my tape. From the bark surface it reached out across the dirt road a
distance of 68 feet - a maximum lateral spread of nearly 71 feet! We 
measured another branch at right angles, and eventually calculated an 
average crown spread of 126.6 feet .

Chippie in Tree web.jpg (72712 bytes) Chippie on stump

Our next stop was the Paved Trail. It is located in the Sawmill Crafts
Center area. The cucumber Dale and I measured last year was fatter than
the new tree, but the height measurement we took then was just an
approximation. Alas, although we spent some time exploring the top of
the tree, the best height we could find was only 112.2 feet. At the
entrance to the road to the Sawmill center are some planted trees - an
apple and a couple of American Hornbeams. We stopped to measure them
because the apple was clearly bigger than the only other one on the park
list, and we weren't sure if American Hornbeam had even been measured in
the park.

Apple @ Cook web.jpg (80750 bytes)

Apple tree at entrance road to Sawmill Theatre

Am Hornbeam Cook web.jpg (88734 bytes)

Am. Hornbeam at entrance road to Sawmill Theatre

Cucumber 8.9' 112.2 Paved Trail, previously measured to 110+.

Apple 9.5' 36.5' entrance to Sawmill Theater

Am. Hornbeam 22" 27.8' entrance to Sawmill Theater

Am Hornbeam 22.8" 26.7' entrance to Sawmill Theater

From here we drove to River Road to measure a Black Willow. When we
arrived I found my rangefinder missing. I searched the truck - a
quick trip back to the sawmill center - no luck. Then I found it - in
the truck of course. We headed down the River Road past the canoe
launch to measure a larger Black Willow in a small patch of swamp. I
pointed out some thin 100 foot high shagbark hickories and the giant 25
foot high sassafras - park record - along the way. The willow I wanted
to measure had died, so back toward the office. We wanted to measure
some miscellaneous trees on the way.

The first stop was along the River Road at Troutman Run, just upstream
from where it drains into the Clarion River. Here was a large Staghorn
I had often seen, but never measured. There were numerous stems
forming a mounded clump. We measured the largest of these stems at 1.9
feet cbh (at 4.1 feet height). There was no good way to see both the
top of the tree and the bottom at the same time, so we opted to measure
to a crotch in the tree. I stepped up into the sumac and measured the
point to be 8.8 feet above the ground. This point and the top of the
tree were easily measured from the road. 

Sumac_Virg Creeper Enh web.jpg (67528 bytes)

Sumac being strangled by Virginia Creeper

sumac_strangled1b.jpg (41199 bytes)

Detail of strangulation


The most interesting feature of the sumac were the vines
entwining it. One branch 6 inches in diameter was tightly bound by
vines that formed spiral indentations as it coiled around the branch.
The largest vine was perhaps an inch in diameter, but was dead. Living
examples of the vine - Virginia Creeper - were strangling several other
limbs. We also measured a Bigtooth Aspen growing at the road
intersection a short distance away.

Staghorn sumac 1.9'@4.1ft 28.5' River Road at Troutman Run (photo will
be posted)     

Bigtooth Aspen 1.9' 65.0' River Road at Troutman Run

From here we continued back along the River Road. We drove slowly
looking for some larger Devil's Walkingstick I had seen previously.
Here was one! I parked the truck and scrambled up the loose slope to the
tree. Just as I got to its base, Carl, also after scrambling partway up
the bank said, "Isn't that a beech?" I looked up and he was right. I
had concentrated on climbing the bank and hadn't looked at the tree
until then. Oh, well. We continued down the road, but did not find the
tree I was looking for.

The final stop at Cook Forest was in the office parking lot. There are
several Black Willows growing in the mouth of Tom's Run. The largest
actually isn't on park property, but overhangs the stream from private
property on the far bank. The tree was shot from several locations and
we eventually concurred on a height of just over 39 feet. We didn't
want to wade across the stream to measure the circumference, and we
couldn't trespass on private property, so we'll estimate the diameter at
approximately 1 foot.

Black Willow n/a 39.1' Park Office in Tom's Run, on Tony's side

Fungus My Landa web.jpg (67621 bytes) Fungus on Carl Harting Property

From here we left the park and took a quick tour of property Carl owns a
few miles away. I posted some comments about epiphytes growing there a
few days ago.

Ed Frank & Carl Harting

photos by Carl Harting

RE: Cook Forest 9/6/2005   Dale J. Luthringer
  Sep 13, 2005 17:17 PDT 

Ed, Carl,

Nice cuke', dudes! Did you by any chance get GPS coordinates for it.
If not, could you give me specific directions to it? I'd like the extra
info to add to our database.

That 130ft class black cherry is significant also. We have documented
less than a dozen that meet that threshold. Low 130's are nice and
worth the GPS coordinate, but if you find an upper 130 class cherry
better keep it quiet... we don't want to give Bob an early demise. It'd
be great if you had GPS coordinates and directions to this one too.

I know that white oak on Lencer Drive. I've been wanting to remeasure
it for years now. I first measured it back in 1997, but darned if I
can't locate the measurement. I remember that I had 17+ft CBH for girth
though, definitely wasn't 18ft back then. The Lencer's, owners of the
tree, said that PennDot removed an even longer limb that stretched out
over the road a few years before 1997. I forget how many cords of wood
he said they got out of it.

Thanks for getting some new tree species 'on the books'. We now have a
more complete list of tree species at the park from your efforts.

Super job, guys!
Hollow trees as chimneys?   Carl Harting
  Sep 18, 2005 19:12 PDT 

I went back to Cook Forest last Thursday to measure the circumference of
the black willow by the park office (5.2ft) then went for another walk
along Browns Run where I got GPS readings for last weeks trees (Ill
send these to you Dale) and remeasured the cucumber to 120.7. The trunk
was covered with sapsucker holes and made a nice picture which Ive
forwarded to Ed.

100_1953b.jpg (68993 bytes)

Afterwards I walked up to the top of the ridge and measured a hemlock
snag Id found a couple weeks before. Circumference was 13.0 feet and
the height was 24.9 feet. It was interesting because it was hollow the
whole way up, and most of the inside was charred black from fire.
Looking up through the trunk I noticed that the limbs extended both
outside and inside the trunk, as if they were arrows shot through the

hollow_hemlock.jpg (84959 bytes)
burned_hemlock.jpg (79997 bytes)
inside_hollow-hemlock.jpg (75997 bytes)

Scott Wade posted a photo of a hollow tree in Eastern PA that was
also burned inside and Im wondering if hollow trees were simply
convenient places to have a fire, or if they were charred from some
other use - some antique industrial use perhaps? Or do they simply serve
as a record of some past forest fire? This tree stands near an old
earthworks, possibly an old charcoal furnace. Ive sent a couple photos
of this tree to Ed as well.