Upper Den Branch   Will Blozan
  May 19, 2002 17:34 PDT 
Today Mike Davie and I explored the upper reaches of Den Branch in Cataloochee, NC GSMNP. Although most of the "good" sites for big trees were cut, we did find a few trees of note. The surprise of the day was a huge (for down here) shagbark hickory that stood a hair over 125' tall on a massive trunk 9'1" in girth. The discovery of this tree doubles the known old-growth specimens in the Cataloochee Valley. I believe this girth is a GRSM record.

The second growth areas supported mainly tuliptree, n. red oak, basswood, silverbell and black cherry with upper canopy heights 135-147'. Many large n. red oaks covered the upper steep slopes (11-15' cbh) and some areas had white oaks Dr. Stahle would go nuts over. Ages certainly exceed 300 years.

Old growth coves were typical of Cataloochee. Many, many old tuliptrees up to 15' in girth and 157.7 feet tall. Hemlocks, currently uninfested with adelgid, commonly reached 140' with 3 trees found over 150'. The tallest was 156.2 feet and 10'8" in girth. White pine reach up to 162.7' tall and 12'3" in girth (not the same tree).

Not bad, considering the "best" was gone and three species over 155'.