Mount Logan Natural Area   Ernie Ostuno
  Jul 20, 2004 


I finally got up to one of the more inaccessible areas of old growth in
Pennsylvania. On July 6th I visited the Mount Logan Natural Area. What
makes this one of the hardest to get to? First of all, you have to drive
several miles on an unmaintained mountain road, that will punish the
sturdiest of 4 wheel drive vehicles. Then you have to hike up one of the
steepest mountain trails in Pennsylvania. Only the Dutlinger Natural
Area comes close to being as hard to get to as this place, but at least
there you are rewarded with a large area of old growth. Not so up on
this mountain, the old growth is a hard to find, small stand. Once you
have sweated and huffed and puffed your way up to near the summit, you
have to climb a rockpile of "Tuscarora sandstone" to get to the ridge
top. Here the trail ends and you have to partially teeter on the edge of
the rocks and partially "rhododendron surf" your way about a quarter
mile east along the ridge past many stunted second growth hemlock and white
pine. The saving grace on this day were the cooling breezes on the ridge
and the spectacular views from there. I also was lucky enough to see two
big turkey vultures take off from their roost on the boulders below as I
approached. The first signpost of the old growth is a beautiful hemlock
right near the ridge that stands about 60 feet tall, nearly 3 feet dbh
and has boughs right down the the ground as it gets a good sunny
southern exposure from the open ridge. Here's my notes:

The old growth is only about two or three acres in extent and consists
of about 15 hemlocks and a few maple and yellow birch. The old growth is
located near the top of the western slope of the headwaters of a stream
valley, and less than 100 yards northeast of the ridge where an outcrop
of "tuscarora sandstone" occurs. Some of the hemlocks are rooted among
the boulders, similar to Sweet Root Natural Area. Unlike Sweet Root, I
noticed no evidence of the hemlock woolly adelgid in this area and the
trees looked healthy. There were a few old rotting logs and at least one
"standing snag" among the old growth.

One thing I want to note: these trees are not stunted as indicated in
the description in "Old Growth in the East: A Survey". The largest ones
were close to or over 100 feet tall, and I estimated the dbh of several
trees to be greater than 3 feet. In fact, these trees appeared larger
than those at other ridgetop sites I have visited. The only trees I saw
that were stunted were back on the exposed ridge top and appeared to be
second growth. There was a white pine on the ridge that had "limbs
longer than the boles" as described in the book, but no hemlocks matched
this description.

There is also a 2-3 acre patch of old growth along Spruce Run (about
halfway between Mount Logan Natural Area and Mount Riansares). I found
this area three years ago and I haven't seen it mentioned as old growth
anywhere. I am going to contact the Bald Eagle State Forest about this
area, which is surrounded by a much larger area (at least 100 acres) of
dense second growth hemlock and pine along with the occasional big
hemlock here and there.

There is supposed to be a few acres of old growth hemlocks on Mount
Riansares, but I will have to wait until next year to attempt to find