Anyone been to Zoar lately?

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ElijahW
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Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by ElijahW » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:40 pm

NTS,

All the attention brought to the great state of Ohio, especially the northeast portion, and more particularly the Lake Erie watershed, a few months ago, brought to mind nearby Zoar Valley. Most, if not all, ents, I presume, are familiar with this special place even if they haven't seen it in person. A search on the BBS or Google or whatever should turn up descriptions aplenty.

I spent about two hours there this afternoon, mostly on the big flat along the main branch of Cattaraugus Creek with the greatest concentration of tall trees. I hadn't been to Zoar in at least two years, and it was very refreshing. My main objective was to measure some trees, of course. This was a bad idea, because the density of the stand made the job pretty much impossible. Very few trees (pretty much just those along the creek banks) had both base and top visible, and those had to be viewed from across the water. The upshot of it is I only made two measurements of any repeatable quality, a sycamore at 144.5' and a tulip tree at 130.5'. The taller trees stand closer to the center of the flat, and I did get some straight-up shots with my Nikon 440. The highest returns topped out at 48 yards for tulips, with high 30s to low 40s for the other species (sycamore, walnut, bitternut hickory, etc.). These numbers seem consistent with past reports. I would really like to know if any trees (likely sycamore or tulip) have broken the 160' barrier yet. I wasn't able to confirm any, but I don't think it's out of the question.

The main reason I'm posting this meager report is to find out if anyone has been to Zoar lately or has plans to visit in the near future. I'm just putting a feeler out, I guess. Bob Leverett mentioned a short while ago that he would like to see people "adopt" certain superlative forests or groves, and this one would be a gem for someone. I'd do it, but it's about 150 miles west of me, and it's hard to get out there on a regular basis. Zoar needs an ent friend, I think.

Elijah

P.S. If you'd like to visit Zoar, now is a great time. The water level of Cattaraugus Creek is very low and all of the public land should be easily accessible. It's a cool place, for sure.
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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AndrewJoslin
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by AndrewJoslin » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:31 am

Just visited Zoar Valley a few days ago, I didn't make any credible measuring attempts. With leaves on the trees pretty much impossible to find the tops of the magnificent tulips, sugar maples, black walnut, basswood, and other giants on the site. I was guided by friend Jake Pultorak who has family in the area and most generously spent the afternoon hiking with me. He used a photocopied version of one of Bruce Kershner's Zoar valley hike guides to help us get to the best hardwood groves. Kershner referred to the 3 main groves as Gallery 1, 2 and 3. We visited the first two galleries but ran out of time to go to the third.

Zoar knocked my socks off, a fantastic and sacred place. I get the feeling it could take a lifetime to fully explore it.

Juvenile black rat snake on the ridge up to the first overlook (route from Kershner's Gallery hike)

Click on image to see its original size

Jake on the Cattaraugus River in Zoar

Click on image to see its original size

Tower of power! Superb tulip in the first gallery

Click on image to see its original size

Monster black walnut in the second gallery

Click on image to see its original size

Undercut eastern hemlock, no HWA in Zoar that I could find, hemlocks looked good.

Click on image to see its original size

White pine making a living the hard way

Click on image to see its original size

Eastern cottonwood, easy pickings for beaver

Click on image to see its original size

More photos here

Andrew Joslin
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

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Matt Markworth
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by Matt Markworth » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:24 am

Andrew,

Nice photos! I also like how they are laid out on flickr, I'll have to give that a try.

That's cool that you were able to use one of Bruce Kershner's guides for navigation. I've wanted to visit Zoar Valley ever since reading about it in Bruce Kershner's and Bob Leverett's The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast and I will definitely make it up there.

Bruce Kershner's enthusiasm and passion for Zoar Valley is so contagious in this video. It would have been such an honor had I ever been able to meet him and I'm sure being on a hike like this would have been major motivation for my NTS pursuits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INgsCCq73Mk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INgsCCq73Mk

- Matt

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dbhguru
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by dbhguru » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:10 pm

Folks,

Dale Luthringer and I got 156 feet out of a tuliptree and 153 out of a sycamore. These were by far Zoar Valley's tallest trees. Tom Diggins got 140+ feet out of a red oak. And there is a white ash that is probably over 140 now if it is still alive. Zoar Valley is due for another round of intense measurement. Maybe some time in 2014.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:05 pm

Thread's been quiet for a good long time but I am personally committed to doing some Zoar measurement as soon as I get a decent handle on the methods and the needed equipment. I've been very impressed by some of the red oaks and white pines on the eastern reaches of the north rim of the gorge, up at the top. Some of the pines, in particular, if not exceptionally large are at least very interesting in their form of growth. Zoar is less than 10 miles from where I'm living at the moment. If anyone else sees this and is interested in meeting up to seek some big trees, let me know; I'll be getting out there either way!

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon May 12, 2014 12:50 pm

No measurements yet (still saving on the side for the instruments) but I thought you might all enjoy a photograph I made at dawn last friday. The view from the point peter lookout oversees the sycamores on valentine flats and the confluence further up. The original stitched panoramic image is equivalent to a 90-megapixel resolution, and hopefully I'll get to print it large someday. If I'm lucky I'll be dropping by the gallery of the giants this afternoon; it's a beautiful time of the year.
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Reduced jpeg
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ElijahW
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by ElijahW » Sat Jun 14, 2014 6:09 pm

Erik,

I've enjoyed reading your posts on western NY. You provide pretty clear descriptions along with photos, which I appreciate. Hopefully I'll be able to make a trip to Zoar Valley later this summer or perhaps fall. If I do, I'll let you know beforehand and maybe we can meet up. You didn't mention if you made it down to the flats; if you did, what was your impression? Also, what condition is the gallery of giants in?

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:22 pm

I did make it down to the flats. The sycamores down there are great- since I can't check heights yet I can only attend to girths, for which none of the sycamores on the flats seem exceptional individually but to have a nearly pure stand of very large ones altogether has a powerful effect on the viewer. The walnut plantation trees are rather thin, and the understory is absolutely choked with brush (mostly invasives), which is an unfortunate contrast to the understory flora of the other terraces and the rim forests, which showcase diverse natives that are uncommon elsewhere. The forest closer to the gorge wall is nice, and over by pyramid hill and the end of the flats.

The flow was low enough last week to wade the south branch, so I did take a trip over to the Gallery of Giants terrace on the central peninsula just upstream of the confluence (on the main branch). I understand there are 3 different terrace sections labeled gallery of the giants? I don't have any of the Kershner books and the information online is rather piecemeal where directions are concerned. Anyways, this one was dominated by at least a dozen very large tuliptrees, the largest forest-grown ones I've seen. All seemed to be in good shape. I was in a bit of a hurry to find a way up the wall to see the view from the top of the confluence before the sun went down, but I'll definitely be back before long.

A few weeks ago I also took a hike along the north rim (from Holbrook Pond) to find the knife-edge ridge that the internet describes as "the only safe way to descend to the northern terraces from the rim." I descended and climbed back up on two different ridges that seemed plenty safe to me before finally finding the knife-edge ridge, which was actually rather more precarious than the other descents. In the process I did access the other two terraces that I believe are supposed to be "gallery of the giants" territory but didn't take much time to see what was there. Too many of my hikes involve a specific goal and a tight timeframe. I really do love the northern rim forest, though. Lots of worthwhile trees. In the vicinity of Holbrook pond I also stumbled across a couple very large hemlocks in a sufficiently out-of-the-way spot to make me wonder if the earlier survey might have missed them.

If you manage to make it over, there's one other site that could use more exposure- Alexander Preserve, not too far upstream from Zoar's "canyon proper." It's another old-growth site with a mesic upland forest situated above a floodplain forest with an interesting transition zone in between. It's also one of the best places left to see our native bluebells. The upland is on a smallish relatively exposed plateau so it's not a very tall site (too much blowdown potential) but there are some impressive trees.
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The bio department at SUNY Fredonia organizes regular invasive-species pulls at the preserve, and it's great to be there with all ages getting involved in the efforts. The variation in tree sizes is evident here.
The bio department at SUNY Fredonia organizes regular invasive-species pulls at the preserve, and it's great to be there with all ages getting involved in the efforts. The variation in tree sizes is evident here.
The Bluebells!
The Bluebells!

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Anyone been to Zoar lately?

Post by Erik Danielsen » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:50 pm

Another zoar update from a recent quick hike:

Visited the first few terraces upstream from the confluence. The first on the south side had plenty of good trees still standing, but one very large black walnut down. I note that one of the photos from before of Kershner standing at the base of a very tall tuliptree on the very edge of the terrace may depict a scene that no longer exists; it appears as though erosion has removed a large chunk of the upstream end of this terrace and there's a big logjam in the middle of the river that's mostly made of long tulip logs. None appeared to be especially girthy but it's probable that we've lost some big trees in the last decade.

Speaking of losing big trees, on the "kinfe-edge ridge terrace" a little further up and across the stream, it seemed that many if not most of the girthy old beech trees have fallen. Beech bark disease is highly apparent throughout the areas of zoar I've visited, though many trees up on the rim at least seem unafflicted. A big tulip on this terrace (picture below) was the most impressive tree I saw on this visit, which I wrapped at 11.25' cbh. That number actually surprised me, as the presence and mass of this tree were imposing.

This hike was also a bit time-restricted so I didn't really wrap any other trees (and the rangefinder was out of commission) but the most interesting part of the hike for me was the knife-edge ridge itself. Present were stunted trees of some familiar species and some new to me. Red oak, white pine, and red pine peppered a slope dominated by dwarf chinkapin and chestnut oak, neither of which were familiar to me. The rim forest at the top of the ridge also had nice normally-growing chestnut oaks and black birch (also unfamiliar to me) mixed into a typical hemlock-northern hardwoods community. The stunted ridge forest was really fascinating and I plan to inventory the tree species present and document some of the other interesting flora there. I'm curious how old some of the stunted trees might actually be.
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This black and yellow birch pair were nearly identical in girth, I'd estimate 5 to 6 feet cbh. Should have gotten the tape out.
This black and yellow birch pair were nearly identical in girth, I'd estimate 5 to 6 feet cbh. Should have gotten the tape out.
Looking down the knife-edge ridge. Dwarf chinkapin and chestnut oak in the foreground.
Looking down the knife-edge ridge. Dwarf chinkapin and chestnut oak in the foreground.
The big tuliptree I measured, with my hiking buddy for reference.
The big tuliptree I measured, with my hiking buddy for reference.

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