Mouse Creek, Cataloochee District, NC, GRSM
07, 2005 18:21 PST
I returned to lower Mouse Creek yesterday to measure some
Riddle and I saw May 2003 but had a hard time getting good
heights on since
the leaves were so thick. Visibility was excellent and the
Mouse Creek drains into Big Creek, and terminates into a
waterfall that is a
popular tourist destination. Above the falls is a very young (70
second-growth forest composed almost entirely of tuliptree and
basswood. Black locust was once common, but they are now
virtually all dead.
In the flats by the stream very few other canopy species are
scattered hemlock, yellow buckeye, black cherry, red maple,
black and yellow
birch, cucumbertree, and red oak occurring sporadically. I was
interested in the tuliptree growth, as we had identified at
least one tree
that would exceed 170'. I measured other species as they
occurred in order
to compute an initial Rucker index.
I was pleased to find three tuliptrees over 170', in fact, all
174' tall. Like one of the 170'+ tulips on Bettis Branch to the
east, one of
these trees was growing out of the railroad bed, and cannot be
more than 70
years old. I tripped over some old steel rails on the way
logging roads and railways crisscrossed the slopes every 100
yards or so.
The place was almost entirely cut along the lower slopes by the
very few relic older trees. Tuliptrees 160' were common, and
150' trees the
norm. This is a grove to watch! At this point, every drainage
far except one on the south side of Big Creek (and several
them) have tuliptrees over 170'. All have trees exceeding 160'.
The find of the day was a northern red oak that is a new Smokies
record. It, too, is 70 years old or so and has reached 151.4'
and 10'11" in
girth. A tuliptree next to it towers to 174.9', with the other
surrounding it over 160' tall. The oak is still growing, and
grew at least
10 inches last year. Not bad!
I won't list all the trees I measured, but will recap
yesterday's trees and
the best from the trip last May 2003.
10'0" X 174.1'
7'4" X 174.4'
8'6" X 174.9'
On railroad bed. This is the tree we spotted
last trip and roughed to 172.1'.
These three trees were all within sight of each other.
Bitternut 156.3' 5/24/2003
Red oak 151.4'
White ash 143.0'
Y. buckeye 137.3'
W. basswood 135'
Red maple 127.6'
Black locust 124'
This initial Rucker Index can easily by raised to 145+ by
taller representatives. Black locust should top 140' and
Basswood should hit 140' and white ash over 150'. Black birch
close to 110', and a 115' tree is not out of the question. I
go back anytime soon, but I know it's possible!
Lower Mouse Creek, Cataloochee District, NC, GRSM
08, 2005 05:35 PST
Congratulations! As always, the Smoky
Mounatins are in their own
class. The growth rates are phenomenal and you've come with a
growing environment for us to consider (in some way), i.e. old
logging railroads. Sheez, who would have thought? I've always
the tuliptree's unexcelled growing prowess, but an old railroad
Mouse Creek update
02, 2005 07:10 PST
I found a few more trees to include (and delete) in the Rucker
Lower Mouse Creek, Cataloochee District, GRSM, NC. As with the
some of these trees were calculated with the incorrect
Here is the correct listing:
Red oak 151.4'
White ash 143.0'
W. basswood 134.4'
Red maple 126.4'
Black locust 139.2'
Sugar maple 127.2'
Not bad for 70 year old second-growth!