South Mountains State Park, NC   BobSmith
  Sep 14, 2004 18:13 PDT 
Robert Leverett wrote:

      There are several reasons why information about big trees and
companion old growth is not always forthcoming from park officials in
our public parks. You've hit upon some of the reasons - the negative
ones, but I would hesitate to paint Park personnel with too broad of a

There's a nearby park where I'd like to look for some old growth. I've
heard from a couple of journalists that there are, indeed, some old
growth patches remaining in the acreage contained in the South Mountains
State Park (here in NC). But the rangers I've spoken to have told me
that there are no such groves. Recently, a very large parcel was added
to the park. These peaks, the highest of which are only about 3K feet,
make up an extremely rugged topography. I can believe there were some
ridges and coves that may have been too tough to be easily reached and
were thus bypassed (and I have been told this happened).

I was able to take a long dayhike in that park in April, and I found
some really nice hemlock groves (but not old growth). I've wanted to go
back, but the park closed for road repairs on May 1st. Just when they
were ready to reopen the park, the floods from Frances hit and washed
out trail bridges, and now the park is closed indefinitely.

Very frustrating.
RE: South Mountains State Park, NC
  Sep 14, 2004 19:53 PDT 

Odd the rangers said that when the N.C. Natural Heritage Program "considers
the South Mountains to have national biological significance. The land
harbors many rare natural communities, including rocky summits, rich cove
forests, and old-growth forests."

RE: South Mountains State Park, NC   BobSmith
  Sep 14, 2004 20:06 PDT 

That's what I meant when I said I receive replies that vary between
feigned ignorance, misdirection, and thinly veiled antagonism. It's
almost as if they don't want the public mucking about with anything off
trail. There are at least two local journalists who claim that there are
old growth forests in the South Mountains State Park. There's a bit of a
legendary botanist (can't recall his name) who spends weeks bushwhacking
and camping off trail inside the park who claims there are some very
rare, old growth trees in there.

I'd like to know, at least vaguely, where such groves are located before
I go walking off trail. But if I just have to pick a likely spot and go,
I'll take that route.

BTW: where is that NC Natural Heritage Program? (Should I just do a site
South Mountains State Park, NC   James Smith
  Feb 27, 2005 16:49 PST 

I finally located a sympathetic ranger at South Mountains State Park
(one Tim Johnson). He sent me an email acknowledging that the area does
indeed have some old growth stands. According to this ranger, the groves
are not actually in the park, but rather on the southern boundary of the
park within the South Mountains Game Lands. He said that many of these
slopes were far too steep and rugged to have been effectively logged and
were left alone. So there seems to be some potential there to located
some nice trees. 

RE: Old growth in South Mountains.   Will Blozan
  Feb 27, 2005 18:12 PST 

Rob Messick, an independent OG Researcher formerly with the Western NC
Alliance, has documented lots of OG in the South Mountains Area. As I
recall, he was very impressed with the area. I visited last year and to my
disgust found hemlock woolly adelgid almost everywhere I looked.

I was on the Chattooga River this past weekend and saw MANY hemlocks already dead in SC and GA. So sad...