The Hemlocks Natural Area, PA   Ernie Ostuno
  Jul 27, 2004 02:30 PDT 
The Hemlocks Natural Area is located in the Tuscarora State Forest in
Perry County, PA. If you like big hemlocks, this is one of the finest
stands Pennsylvania has to offer. I visited here in May and September,
1999 and the wooly adelgid was not a problem at that time. Let's hope
these trees are able to survive the HWA onslaught. It would be a shame to lose them. Here are my notes:

This is an area of primarily hemlock and some tulip poplars in a stream
valley. The trees here are very large. I measured a dbh of one stump
(the tree had recently fallen due to heartrot) of 53 inches. Many other
living hemlocks had dbhs of 45 inches or greater. Heights of some of the
taller hemlocks are probably close to 130 feet. Hemlock recruitment
appears to be occurring in this area. Some old growth appears to be
outside (to the west) of the natural area boundary. Otherwise, the area
is surrounded by second growth hemlock/hardwoods.

A Pennsylvania DCNR pamphlet lists the following description of the
natural area:

"This 120-acre tract is approximately one and one-half miles long and
one-fourth to one-half mile wide. The area supports eleven commercial
tree species including hemlock, yellow birch, black birch, red oak, red
maple, and chestnut oak. More than 50 percent of the hemlock trees are
over 24 inches in diameter. The largest hemlock measured was 52 inches
in diameter and 109 feet tall. The tallest was 123 feet with a diameter
of 38 inches.


RE: The Hemlocks Natural Area, PA  Ernie Ostuno
Hemlocks Natural Area, PA:  Large stump of a fallen hemlock. Photo taken May 1999.

hemlocks001.jpg (73549 bytes) Hemlocks Natural Area, PA:  Some of the taller hemlocks here are close to 130 feet tall.
RE: The Hemlocks Natural Area, PA   Yorks, Thad
  Jul 27, 2004 06:33 PDT 

The HNA certainly is an impressive stand and a nice hike, but Todd Hurd
(Shippensburg University) tells me that this stand has not done well
with HWA in the last several years.

Thad E. Yorks, Assistant Professor
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
California University of Pennsylvania
RE: The Hemlocks Natural Area, PA   Dale J. Luthringer
  Jul 27, 2004 07:13 PDT 


That large stump hemlock is very close to the largest single stem
hemlock I've found so far in PA: 13.9ft CBH x 116.6ft high (Forest
Cathedral N.A.-Cook Forest). I have a number of hemlocks in the 130ft
class at Cook, with only a small handful in the lower 140's. If the
130's hold true in Hemlock N.A. and are still hanging in there with the
HWA, we have good potential to break into the 140ft class at Hemlock
N.A. also. Sure would be nice to find a 150 footer in PA.

Bob's been trying to get me in there for awhile also. I planned on
going last year, but the state cancelled nearby training to save
money... another N.A. that's on my 'must see' list.

The Hemlocks Natural Area, PA   Dale J. Luthringer
  Dec 28, 2004  
Subject: RE: neat weather band at Cook Forest
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 17:08:19 -0500


"Narrow cold frontal rainbands"... now there's one I'll have to remember. It was too. I was amazed at how straight AND how long it was. It almost ran the entire "height" of the state. I'm sure you folks get some serious stuff out there though.

Sorry about not posting my trip to Hemlocks N.A. yet. I've just been swamped with extra park duties. I did get some hemlocks in the 130's, one almost made it to 140. The tulips were nice too, but I couldn't put any over 140 either. I believe I measured every hemlock and tulip in there that was in the ravine or looked impressive. 

The HWA is pretty bad, although forestry is busy with predator beetle releases in there. The whole area is opened up with all the HWA defoliation.

Found a monster black gum too... at least for me. It's the biggest I've seen yet in PA. It very well could be one of the top 3 largest overall in the state. Here's a quick Rucker Index:













E. hemlock




N. red oak




red maple




Am. basswood








black gum



tallest NE

white ash




chestnut oak




black locust




Hemlocks N.A. RI = 114.75

That puts it 7 out of 19 PA sites surveyed so far.

Oh yes, the fat black gum I found is the largest girth I've come across so far at 10.7ft CBH x 96.4ft high. I kicked myself for not getting a crown spread on that tree!

Merry Christmas!