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Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:46 am
by tomhoward

These are fabulous pictures! The white pines are incredible, especially the 17.8' cbh monster. I also like the picture of the red pines at Raquette Lake. Did you get heights on them?
Did you get to Cathedral Pines?

I'm enclosing reports on 2 sites my brother and I surveyed back in 2005, the last time I've been in the Adirondacks. I didn't have any height measuring equipment then. They are Cathedral Pines on NY 28 between 7th and 8th Lakes, and Raquette Lake Red Pines:

Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake Hamilton Co. Adirondacks NY 7/30/2005

Jack Howard and I visited this magnificent 3-acre grove Sat. 7/30/2005. It is right by NY 28 just north of 7th Lake, and is a stand of towering ancient White Pines on a knoll on the side of the road (left side when heading north). At least 1 (possibly 2) of these pines towers to over 150’ – according to a report by Howard Stoner ( the tallest tree is 152.8’ by 11.8’ cbh; according to Kershner and Leverett (2004 – see below for ref.) the tallest tree is 152.1’ by 41.8” dbh (10.9’ cbh); as far as I know these are the first trees in NY to be accurately measured to over 150’.

These White Pines are glorious trees – lofty, ragged, windswept – I have never seen so many White Pines over 40” dbh in 1 place.

Other trees are Hemlock, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Beech, Mountain Maple – all much smaller than the pines, and Striped Maple dominates the understory. Goldthread is very common as a groundcover.

Trees measured:
White Pine 41” dbh 10.7’ cbh
White Pine 39.5” dbh 10.3’ cbh
White Pine 47.2” dbh 12.4’ cbh biggest tree measured
White Pine 45.8” dbh 12’ cbh sap oozing out of trunk filled grove with pine fragrance
White Pine 45.4” dbh 11.9’ cbh
White Pine 44.4” dbh 11.6’ cbh
White Pine 38.9” dbh 10.2’ cbh
We saw a White Pine est. 4’ dbh but it was on too steep a hill to safely measure.

Cross-section of mostly hollow White Pine 113 rings in 2.3” radius, total radius 1 foot, tree should be over 200 years old.

Lower area by huge 49” dbh (12.8’ cbh) White Pine snag monument to fallen World War II aviator (B-24 bomber):
“The Tree created by God and old when our
Country was born, fine and clear and straight…
dedicated to the Memory of 2nd Lt. Malcolm L. Blue
Navigator of a Liberator Bomber with 8th Air Force –
Killed in action over France – June 2, 1844 [should be 1944]
Few Men Have Earned This Memorial”

Red Spruce log cross-section intact 2.5” radius - 60 rings
Lots of ancient treefall pit and mound topography
Sugar Maple cross-section of log 8” intact radius 187 rings
Since this maple is a lot smaller than the pines, and White Pine is a pioneer species, the pines are almost certainly older than the maples – if the maple was close to 200 years old, the giant White Pines could easily be over 250 years old; they could have become established after a fire or windstorm around 1700 or earlier.
One of the huge White Pines was half dead , and from one side looked like a snag with a living branch – one side of the tree had no bark at all, and the living branch was supported by a narrow strip of bark rising over 70’ up the tree. About 30’ up the dead part was a huge burl; it was one of the most picturesque trees I’ve ever seen.
There were big burls up the living White Pines as well..

At least 5 White Pines were 12 X 100 (12’cbh by 100’ tall).
Cathedral Pines could be the 4th tallest forest in NY.
Tallest NY forests:
Elders Grove, Adirondacks White Pine to 158’+
Zoar Valley Tuliptree 156’
Vanderbilt Estate, Hyde Park Tuliptree 155’
Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake White Pine 153’

Kershner and Leverett (2004) The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2004.
Height data for other sites from ENTS Website.

Tom Howard 7/8/2009

Raquette Lake Red Pines Hamilton Co. Adirondacks, NY 7/30/2005

Jack Howard and I visited this magnificent 10-acre grove on a hill by NY 28 above the south inlet of Raquette Lake Sat. 7/30/2005. Across NY 28 toward the open lake is a small island covered with what could be old growth Red Pine (with 1 White Pine at end of island).

The main grove on the hill overlooking the marshy south inlet is dominated by old growth Red Pine and White Pine, the first old growth Red Pine I’ve ever seen close up – Red Pines in lower part, White Pines in upper – the description in Kershner and Leverett (2004) is accurate and led Jack and me to this enchantingly beautiful site. On a bright sunny afternoon Red Pines are among the most beautiful of all trees in the way they catch the sunlight, their reddish trunks glowing in the light. Red Pine trunks have the deep subtle fragrance of the great sunlit Ponderosa Pines of the Western mountains, and the long stiff needles of the Red Pines glisten with silvery sunlight just like the Ponderosa Pines of the West; also like the Ponderosa Pines Red Pine bark is composed of plates that look like artistic jigsaw puzzles. The Raquette Lake grove is probably the finest stand of Red Pine in NY, with trees 200 years old, to 28” dbh, and about 100 feet tall.

This grove has the most highly developed ancient treefall pit and mound topography that I’ve ever seen in an Eastern forest; pits are over 3 feet deep and huge White Pines rise out of pine-needle covered mounds.

I counted 80 rings on the cross-section of a branch recently fallen from 60’ up a large White Pine – 80 rings on 4” intact radius (total radius of branch 7” but inner part uncountable) tree possibly 200 years old.

Trees measured with “D” tape:
Red Pine 20.4” dbh
White Pine 39.9” dbh tree from which branch cross-section was counted
White Pine 38.1” dbh
White Pine 38.6” dbh
White Pine 35” dbh on same mound as tree just above
White Pine 41.2” dbh 10.8’ cbh largest tree seen
Red Pine 21.2” dbh
Red Pine 24” dbh 6.3’ cbh
Most Red Pines seem to be 20”-24” dbh – we saw a few that looked larger, but we didn’t measure any more as time was getting short.

Dominant: White Pine, Red Pine
Associate (and smaller): White Cedar, Hemlock, Balsam Fir (common), Red Maple,
near edge – Paper Birch, Quaking Aspen
Many conifer seedlings seen
Other plants: Bunchberry Dogwood, Starflower, Low Bush Blueberry, Goldthread

I know of only the following old growth Red Pine forests in NY:
Raquette Lake Red Pines
Floodwood-Rollins Pond Region, Adirondacks ( report by Howard Stoner
near Little Whiteface Mountain, Adirondacks – seen from chairlift Oct. 1973 – said to be old growth Red Pine in Ketchledge Adirondack Tree book
Zoar Valley – NY’s southernmost stand to 20” dbh 210 yrs. old (Bruce Kershner email July 4, 2003).

Red Pine in old growth state is one of NY’s rarest trees.

Kershner and Leverett(2004) – Bruce Kershner and Robert T. Leverett, The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast, San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 2004.

Raquette Lake Red Pines could be on Neil Pederson’s Eastern Old List.
Could this be the stand photographed on the Red Pine page of Eastern Old List?
Also is this the site on the White Pine page listed as Raquette Lake NY with trees aged 188-197 years?

Tom Howard

Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:28 pm
by dbhguru

I did get back to the Cathedral Pines grove. The tallest is now around 147 feet. It used to be 152 or 153, but has lost some crown. Other pines are between 120 and 130. The red pines are pretty short. Maybe 80 feet. Pack Forest has a 152.5-footer, the Grandmother tree. The second tallest in Pack Forest is a 147-footer. Other white pines in the grove are between 120 and 135 feet. There is a third white pine in the area, but not in the natural area that is slightly over 140 feet.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:33 pm
by Neil

those red pine near Raquette Lake, are they right on Rt 28? if so, i've cored the 18-20 oldest looking individuals in ~2003. the oldest one has a ring count 320-350 yrs. a new undergraduate student in the lab has just started working up those cores. hope to get good, cross-dated ages before 2012.


the practical forestry book - it is a hard find. can't remember how i got my hands on it the first time i read it [in the 1990s]. i purchased the last copy Amazon had last month. I would love more information than what is in it, but it is nice to have good observations from the late-1890s.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:38 pm
by Neil

the red pine stand on the eastern OLDLIST page is from the Ferris Lake Wild Forest tract. nothing old-growth that i saw in there, though i wasn't there to scour the place for old trees. there were some fire scars and a nice blueberry and huckleberry understory.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:07 pm
by edfrank
Practical forestry in the Adirondacks
by Henry S. Graves.
Published 1899 by Dept. of Agriculture, Forestry Division in Washington, D.C .
Written in English.

85 pages with 20 plates. It is public domain as it is a forest service document. Somebody should scan it sometime and post it to to the web as a pdf.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:01 am
by dbhguru

OMG, yes, that is the red pine stand - on Rt 28 by Raquette Lake. Holy smokes, I've got to re-calibrate my red pine eye. I had no idea the pines were that old. Here are 3 more images of the red pines.

Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:26 am
by Neil
nice pictures, Bob!

it is a lovely stand. we'll see how the ages shake out. i have a feeling many are a good bit younger than the 300+ yr old tree.

but, i know how you feel. when i finally went in that place to sample, i named it "blind hog pine". i had been taken past that stand many times when young and had driven by it a good number of times after that. it doesn't seem too remarkable from the road.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:38 am
by Neil
hi Bob,

no need to re-calibrate your eyes - they are spot on.

the oldest of the 20 red pine i sampled here dates to the 1640s. the second oldest, still in process, dates to the early-1700s. the remaining 18 oldest-looking red pine at Raquette Lake date to no earlier than the early-1850s. some date to the 1870s, but i think that is mostly the result of missing the pith. it looks like this collection has three 'age classes' - early 1600s, early-1700s and mid-1800s.

all in all a fine stand that predates logging in this part of the ADKs.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:35 am
by dbhguru

Thanks for the additional information. I feel better. What keeps me focused on the Dacks is the realization that logging came later there and that if we go back to before around 1840, we're at a point predating virtually all the logging except around the fringes. I think they were going full bore by the early 1850s, but by between 1885 and 1890, logging had greatly diminished because of the protection the Dacks had gained. In addition, a lot of the early logging was for white pine and red spruce. So with highly selective logging, the forest had a chance to quickly bounce back.


Re: Adirondack Adventures

Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:21 pm
by Neil
hi Bob,

yeah, i probably shouldn't have been so quick and definitive. i guess they could have gotten to that portion of the ADKs by the 1850s with logging. my hunch is that it is far from the main areas of activity, but perhaps not. it is a flatter portion of the preserve. i do not have Babara McMartin's book handy, so i cannot consult it. it would be interesting to see if logging was in the Raquette Lake area in the mid-1800s.