Our exploration of the great old-growth forest of Green Lakes State Park continued on Sat. 10/5/2002. We met at the beach at the north end of Green Lake and walked south along Green Lake's east shore.
The old-growth begins not far south of the beach, with large White Cedars growing at picturesque angles out over the deep turquoise blue water, and rugged old Sugar Maples a short distance back from the lake. We continued to the south shore of Green Lake, past a few dying clumps of Canadian Yew, to the tall White Pine at the lake's south end. This isolated tree is believed to be both the tallest and largest White Pine standing in Onondaga County today.
We continued to the lake's southwest corner, and climbed a trail up into more old-growth forest. We turned left on a trail junction, and headed down to Round Lake, a natural treasure—a meromictic lake entirely surrounded by old-growth forest. We walked along the west shore of Round Lake, beneath a grove of tall Tuliptrees, to the spur trail leading off into the heart of old-growth beyond Round Lake's southwest shore.
We visited the magnificent Tuliptree Cathedral, site of the 5/4 Training Workshop, then continued to the power line, and climbed up steep Hernia Hill, with old-growth on both sides of the power line. We came to a meadow which seems to mark the westward limit of old-growth at Green Lakes.
Then we took the Rolling Hills Trail eastward from the edge of the meadow into yet another spectacular area of old-growth marked by tall Sugar Maple and Basswood.
We left this old-growth area and came to Rolling Hills Campground. From there, we walked through mostly second-growth (including White Pine and Norway Spruce plantations), through the Cabin Colony, and back to the beach.
Our Oct. 5 survey indicates Green Lakes contains another 100 or more acres of old-growth. This outing confirms Green Lakes State Park contains one of the most outstanding old-growth forests in the entire Northeast! The whole forest is dominated by Sugar Maple and Beech. This seems to confirm the 1976 estimate of 960 acres of old-growth by Lindsey and Escobar in Eastern Deciduous Forest (Vol. 2, Beech-Maple Region, Publ. No. NPS-148, Washington, D.C., U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, Natural History Theme Studies No. 3, 1976, p. 37).
Rolling Hills Trail: The old-growth forest between Rolling Hills Trail and Alverna Convent to the north contains some of the tallest Sugar Maple and Basswood in the Northeast, and possibly the tallest American Basswood in USA! Basswoods possibly exceed 120 ft. in height, which would set a national height record for American Basswood (see 5/4/02 Green Lakes report for national record measured in Tuliptree Cathedral).
There is only a little Hemlock there. We found several rotted Hemlock stumps, indicating Hemlocks were possibly removed in the 1846-1870 Plank Road era, when Hemlock was a preferred wood for plank roads. Otherwise, this is an outstanding old-growth forest, with huge old trees with massive buttress roots, shaggy bark, balding bark, spiral grain, downed logs in varying states of decay, etc.
We have possibly not surveyed all the old-growth at Green Lakes. Further exploration of this extraordinary old-growth site is definitely required.
Report by Dean Fitzgerald
Saturday, October 5, the Central NY survey team had an awesome survey on Green Lakes State Park. I predict, when all is said and done there, we will identify over 1000 acres of old growth forest. I predict this location will become known as the most accessible and excellent stand of old growth hardwood forest in the Northeastern US.
The habitat we saw mostly on Saturday was mature maple (red and sugar) and beech forest. We observed many healthy beech, which was nice, given the disease afflicting beech elsewhere in the park, and in the northeast generally.
Some of this forest had evidence of selective cutting for hemlock. Based on the degree of forest recovery, we figure the hemlock in this particular section was taken for the plank road in the 1830s.
We also saw pristine forest and two awesome red oaks, along with other AMAZING trees.
We also saw more sugar maples over 300 years old that were very healthy. I felt it a bit scary to see these old trees in such good shape, and to wonder how big and old they could get to given the chance.
We found basswood over 35 inch DBH, and ranging from 115 to 125 feet tall. Tom Howard thought one of these trees will be close to National Champion size.
Also, Ed Reese's big white pine by the lake came out at a height between 125-135 feet tall. The pine and basswood all seem very healthy.
Hopefully, Bob Leverett will come to Green Lakes soon.
Cornell University Biological Field Station
Bridgeport, NY 13030
voice: (315) 633-9243; fax: (315) 633-2358
Team Two Leader: Ed Reese
From the waterfront parking lot, we headed for the Tuliptree Cathedral, hiking west, to look at a White Ash tree.
Just beyond the Tuliptree Cathedral, we encountered a few remarkable Hemlock. Two of them are probaby 110 footers. I've never seen Hemlocks anywhere that thick or tall. The thicker one is 49 inches dbh, or 13 feet 2 inch circumference. Someone said they thought it was 400 years old, but I think more like 800 years, as every inch is 20 to 30 years on cut trail logs around there.
Also, nearby, we saw the thickest Sugar Maple ever, but not the tallest. Maybe only 105 feet tall.
We went to the White Ash and were stunned to see it branches out at 100 feet. The Maples around it are maybe 110 feet tall, tops. This White Ash is maybe 125 to 130 feet—close to the height of the shorter Tuliptrees in the Cathedral grove.
The White Pine we measured on an earlier survey is looking like it barely hits 150 feet—not much taller than the Tuliptrees.
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