Hemlock Trail-Cook Forest   Dale Luthringer
  Jan 11, 2007 18:09 PST 

I had the privilege of spending the day surveying a superb section of
old growth hemlock in the vicinity of Hemlock Trail adjacent to RT36. I
started from the Hemlock Trail trailhead on RT36 and continued in a
westerly direction working my way up the valley towards the campground.
Some of these trees I haven't visited since the 1997 old growth forest
conference, others since the first ENTS rendezvous held here in 2002. I
particularly remember chasing diameters for Robert Van Pelt and Bob
Leverett on at least two separate occasions here. What an awesome
section of woods. Tall hemlocks, at least for the Northeast, abound
here. Upper 120's & low 130 foot height class were common, including
two more 140ft class hemlocks!

We had a sizeable blowdown that occurred here I believe back in 2003.
Of course, it had to go through the best of the stand. The swath of
downed trees started along the edge of RT36 and continued in a northerly
direction being about 75 yards at it's widest to about 1/3 mile long.
The trees that are left are still incredible. One tree in particular
will continue to stand out in my mind, a hollowed out snag that had
blown over. When I first saw how wide the hollow was, my mind actually
put me on the defense. It was hollowed out so perfectly that I was
thinking, there very well could be a bear in there. So, with trusty
flashlight and K-Bar in hand I slowly crept up to the log and peeked in
from on top. Wheww! Luckily, no bear, but did find the next best
thing, fisher tracks imprinted on the sawdust inside. The hollow was so
wide and long (~2.5ft x ~16ft) that I easily could've slipped inside.
It would've made a perfect dry, warm, and comfy winter shelter. I know,
I just said my new favorite part of the park was along Mohawk Trail near
the Clarion River, but this place is incredible.

The day's stats follows:

Species            CBH     Height   Comments

E. hemlock        9.7        112.8
E. hemlock        11.2      118.3
E. hemlock        9.6        121.6
E. hemlock        N/A       123.8
E. hemlock        N/A       124.3
E. hemlock        N/A       125.7
E. hemlock        8.5        126.4
E. hemlock        N/A       126.8
E. hemlock        N/A       127.9
E. hemlock        N/A       129.1
E. hemlock        N/A       129.4
E. hemlock        N/A       129.7
E. hemlock        9.3        130.7
E. hemlock        11.9      130.8
E. hemlock        8.2        131.7
E. hemlock        8.3        131.8
E. hemlock        9.9        132.1
E. hemlock        10.6      132.1
E. hemlock        9.6        132.6
E. hemlock        9.4        133.5
E. hemlock        9.8        134.6
E. hemlock        9.1        134.7
E. hemlock        8.8        135.4
E. hemlock        9.2        135.6
E. hemlock        11.6      137.8
E. hemlock        10.7      137.9
E. hemlock        N/A       138.6+ other side of spring seep, CBH saved for future wrap-up survey
E. hemlock        9          140.1
E. hemlock        9.3        141.6

White pine         9.4        143.3
White pine         9          146.1
White pine         9.3        146.2+ Leverett old measure? Have to check GPS coordinates
White pine         N/A       146.7+ Leverett old measure? Have to check GPS coordinates

It was a gorgeous sunny day. Sure pays to get out of the office!

Re: Back to Dale   djluth-@pennswoods.net
  Jan 15, 2007 17:13 PST 


Snyder-Middleswarth N.A. tops the list, but has been hit hard by HWA. They've
been treating it hard, but haven't been back up there in close to 2 years now
to see how things are progressing. They have at least one, that everytime I've
measured it runs neck & neck with Cook's highest. They have a couple upper
130's that may also have broken 140 by now, but haven't measured those trees in
over 4 years now. So, it's quite possible if they didn't succumb to HWA by now.

I was very surprised to find a ~12x130 class in the Tionesta Scenic Area not far
from the main parking loop along the run. It was in the lower 130's too. Sure
would've been nice to see the hemlocks they had in that valley before the 1985
storm destroyed the place. I've walked many miles throughout that site,
looking for remnants in the swath, and outside the swath in the Research N.A.
section and have yet to find another to break 130. It is possible, but I still
haven't seen that whole area yet... 1000's of acres to explore.

I have hopes of finding a 130ft class hemlock in Ohiopyle, but that may be a

We did find one 130ft class hemlock in Hemlocks N.A. which was very nice, but
that whole site was hit hard by HWA. Forestry has been working very hard over
the years to bring that site back. It is slowly starting to show promise.

The whole eastern side of the state is a total unknown for me. There are many
places to explore that could have held promise, but HWA has really slaughtered
a number superb hemlock sites.

I've done a good bit of searching in Ricketts Glen, and still haven't found a
hemlock to break 130. It's not impossible there, I've got a number into the
upper 120's. But that's a nother huge site to explore. Some of the side
drainages into the main Glen N.A. show great promise for white ash and

So, in short... unless Scott or Will can pull something out of Fairmont, or we
find another super hemlock site near the Mason-Dixon line, I think Cook or
Snyder-Middleswarth with have the only 140ft class hemlocks for quite some time
to come.


RE: Back to Dale FAIRMONT TSUGA   Will Blozan
  Jan 15, 2007 18:27 PST 


All the hemlocks I saw in Fairmount were small (<7' cbh) and essentially
dead from HWA. However, some of the small ones were in the 1-teens so I
would guess they got pretty tall there. I am also assuming they are native,
which may not be the case. Maybe elsewhere in the park there are some
treated groves.

RE: Back to Dale FAIRMONT TSUGA   djluth-@pennswoods.net
  Jan 16, 2007 09:08 PST 


I hear you on Fairmont. Still must see that place.

Here's Cook Forest's 140ft class hemlock tally, 7 total:


10.2 140
9     140.1
11.4 141.4
9.3   141.6
8.6   143.1
8.3   143.4
12    146.5