Winston-Salem Monster
  May 31, 2006 23:12 PDT 

The Winston-Salem Monster:

came across it by accident while passing through W-S, stopped at tourist
info spot for bathroom and spotted a pamphlet about it.
it says the top half broke off who knows how long ago (just a bit above
where you start seeing all the leaves), so it's no longer the tallest thing
around for sure, but it is still at least 75' and maybe somewhat more than
that. the diameter, I had no equipment with me, but the booklet claimed
7.1' diameter. the back part is hollowed out, they said it was hit by
lighting ages ago and so badly hollowed out and damaged the timber cutters
left this forest grown remnant standing, the sole old-growth tree left in
the park. It grows on a steepish slope so who knows at what point they
measured, if they measured at bh from the base top soil then it is even
fatter than 7.1'. It was really massive. Largest tulip I've ever seen
(never been to Smokies or other prime old-growth areas down here, I know
there are larger). There is a huge one on UNC campus too, half of the top
half cracked off, but I think it is taller than this one, very fat, if
perhaps a little bit less so.
RE: Winston-Salem Monster WOW
  Jun 01, 2006 15:10 PDT 

I had this weird feeling before I left that I should bring measuring
equipment, but I kept thinking that I was just running up Pilot Mtn. to
meet a friend and there is no OG or anything there so why bother. Anyway, I
had nothing with me and I didn't bother taking a careful enough look to
really say. Don't think I'm so great at estimating heights quite yet.

I would guess that there will not be enough left of the trunk (and combined
with my vague recollection that it did taper a bit once it got into the
leafy area) to measure out to the most astounding numbers, although it
certainly does have a whopper of a base trunk for a least a bit of a ways
up, as you can see from the photo taken from a distance. I seem to recall
that it did break down quite low. I really wonder what the beast was like
before that. Locally it seems to have such a history I imagine there must
be tons of private photos of it, I wonder if any go back before the time of
the break. I doubt it was a height record breaker type tree though,
although there is one quote about "growing as tall as it is wide", but I'm
still not so sure it was ever some 160-170' thing. All the same, it was
quite impressive even as it was. It was easy to stand in location where you
couldn't tell so easily the top was missing and it just felt so immense.

OK, I just found another photo I took, it does show the break pretty far

As for direction I just found this:

I kind of wound myself there using DeLorme maps that were missing many
street names (as well, many of the streets were missing there names with
signs torn down) and without anything more than "probably somewhere along
Balsom Rd" (brochure for the tree has no map or anything), so it's probably
easier to look at that map and find your own route. It is a bit easy to
drive right past it as the turn in looks similar to a turn in to a new
apartment development across the street and arriving from the direction you
probably will the big sign is not so evident, although the road into it is
easy to see. But it's really not to hard to find at all, nothing like the
nightmare that is driving in Boston, easily the worst and most confusing
place to drive (and I have done Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, LA and much of
Orange County, CA). The tree itself is also easy. Just park at the deepest
end of the parking lot. Walk down hill to the right about 15' look across
the sort of torpid man made pond to the farthest shore and it rises up
right there. It's a walk measure in yards, not miles. Trail is almost more
suited for cards than people. Really close.