This posting combines two summer 2012 forays in search of old growth forest in the northeast. Almost all the original forest encountered by European settlers was cleared for farms, and the rest was logged for timber by the 1920s. Only small patches remain, escaping the lumberman's saw and axe because of inaccessibility, steep slopes, or boundary issues. Featured here are two sites in Pennsylvania and one in Connecticut.
Hearts Content Scenic Area in western PA is a long way to travel for a one-mile loop hike, but if you're a tree lover, it's worth the trip. The girth of some of the oldest trees could challenge any tree hugger. The oldest eastern white pines are approximately 400 years old. Other large specimens include eastern hemlock and American beech, although the latter are being killed by beech bark disease.
|A towering hemlock|
In Cook Forest State Park, one can still see dead trunks of the American chestnut, which succumbed to chestnut blight, accidentally imported from China or Japan around 1900. The park, once called the "Black Forest", contains a "Forest Cathedral" of towering eastern white pines and eastern hemlocks and is designated a National Natural Landmark. The "swamp area" contains red and white oaks, red maples, and black cherry, some over 280 years old. If you visit, be sure to hike the 1.2 mile Longfellow Trail which passes through many 300 to 400 year old trees. Many of the white pines reach 150 feet in height.
|The Eastern white pines are the tallest, up to 183 feet...|
|...but hemlock are the most abundant of the giants|
|Very tall oaks and maples are a pain in the neck|
|The view from Bear Mountain|
Some other old growth forests in eastern US:
Mount Greylock, MA
Landis Arboretum, NY
Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC
Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, NC
A list of old growth forests
Post by Paul Courcy