Kings Mountain, Dana NC James Parton
  January 10, 2009


Nearly 11 years ago my then wife Cheri and I bought an acre of land and doublewide at the base of Kings Mountain just outside of Dana NC. In 2002 I asked Dan Hinkle who owns part of the lower part of the mountain for permission to hike there and later ran into the owners who owned the summit who gave me permission to hike there and also gave me permission to fish a small pond on the other side. I lost the home in a divorce over 4 years ago but still hike the mountain occaisionally. Friday I decided to take a hike there and for the first time do an ENTS report on the site since I was in the area doing the bulletin for the church.

The hike starts by taking a driveway off Justice Hills Drive and going into a field located on the lower part of the mountain. The majority of the forest on Kings Mountain is young. Some of it was once apple orchard which has been since reclaimed by forest. However some older trees are found, especially nearer the summit. Various oaks, especially chestnut as well as tulip poplar, pitch pine, Virginia pine, maples, hollies, black locust and an occaisional white pine are found here. A few trees exceed 100 feet in height. After hiking through the woods above the field you come into an old road which leads to the summit. It is usually well used by 4 wheel atv vehicles but by the looks of it they have not used it for awhile. I measured both a sizeable paulownia and chestnut oak before reaching the summit. The summit itself is a small clearing with some locusts, in which some are dead snags and a couple of decent pitch pines nearby. Other trees surround the
 small clearing. They are some small ratty hawthorns here too. I measured a fat pitch pine here. Moving off along the spine of the mountain I measured another oak and then went to a place I have named " Druid Rock " I sat and relaxed a minute. This small rock overlook, surrounded by rhodo overlooks a largely oak forest with some pines and other hardwoods present. It is my favorite place on the mountain. Following the trail down the other side through a dip than up again then back down I get to a place on the right of the trail that I call " Holly Bluff ". It is a small hill that has black cherry, maple and other hardwoods and American Holly is common in the understory on the hillside. I measured one nice holly here. This area also overlooks the property of Larry & Holly Mims, two close friends of mine who own property across the small valley on the nearby ridge. They have 8 acres of forest I hope to get a closer look-at in the future.

Walking on, I come out into a clearing at the base of the mountain opposite of where I came in. The hike is up and over the summit, down the other side around the mountain back to the starting point, a loop. Upon entering the clearing I quietly came across five browsing deer. I watched them for 30 minutes. The key to watching deer is to stay still. Even though I was in the open, as long as I stay very still, especially when they are looking my way, they don't get too alarmed. I think their eyes work more on detecting motion than recognition. Me being in full camoflage probably helps too. A squirrel came within 10 feet of me before seeing me and running off. In the past I have seen some pretty pheasant in these woods too.The deer finally saw me after I had slowly moved a fair distance away. I think they saw a glint of light from my glasses or the clinometer hanging around my neck. The woods near the clearing have a lot of Tree of Heaven, which I often
 call " Paradise Tree ". It is shorter and easier to remember, of course it is Ailanthus Altissima. Locust also is here. A pretty peach tree which blooms beautifully in spring is nearby.

Hiking the clearing along the mountains base I spied a large white pine down in a ravine with a lot of debris piled around it. It proved a challenge to measure but turned out the tallest I measured today at just over 117 feet tall!  Walking out I noticed what looked like fire ant mounds. I found this unusual since I have never found fire ants in the WNC mountains. They are very common at dad's in Lowndesville SC. People have told me that they are present in Greenville Co in upstate SC as well as in the foothills of Polk and Rutherford counties NC. Knocking the top off of a mound with my stick the ants came streaming out. I see now they have made it up past the escarpment into the mountains, probably aided by increasingly milder winters. Given more time they will probably overspread the mountains. We in Asheville will probably see them before long.

I saw a nice red-tailed hawk while walking out who called out while passing over.

I noticed a row of healthy hemlocks planted along an apple orchard. I suspect the orchard owner may have treated them. They are healthier than the others in the area. From a distance I thought they were red cedar, which is scattered out in the nearby forests. Near a neighboring house I measured a nice tuliptree. Over 100 feet tall! From here it was a quarter mile walk back to the car.

I thank Dan Hinkle for still allowing me access to the mountain though I no longer live near him.

Here are the trees measured.

                                          cbh                  height

Royal Paulownia                                         74.3'

Chestnut Oak                     11' 8"                70.5'  ( MT )   Girth measured at 2.5ft

Pitch Pine                          7' 6"!                 59.0'

Oak                                   8' 9"                  79.0'

American Holly                                           60.0'

White Pine                        10' 8"!                117.3'

Tuliptree                                                    111.0'

James Parton


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