Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

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Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by tomhoward » Wed Oct 10, 2012 6:29 pm


On the cold mostly cloudy afternoon of Oct. 6, 2012, some friends and I explored this glorious old growth grove. I spent the weekend of Oct.6-7 with them at their place in Old Forge. Cathedral Pines is on the left side of NY 28 east of Inlet – a beautiful drive from Old Forge with views of lakes (the Fulton Chain of Lakes) with pine-clad shores, past an island in 7th Lake with old windswept White Pines (that Bob Leverett photographed in 2011).

From the west on NY 28 Cathedral Pines is an awesome sight of about 12 sky-piercingly tall massive rough-barked windswept White Pines soaring high above a hilltop, these great old Pines easily 50-80 ft. above the surrounding forest canopy. Cathedral Pines is a small grove with most of the big trees covering only about an acre of the grove that covers at most 3 acres. We spent an enchanting hour and a half exploring the Pines. A most wonderful fragrance of Pine mingled with the freshness of wet newly fallen hardwood leaves permeated the air. The ground was carpeted with freshly fallen brown needles from the towering ancient White Pines. The White Pines are a magnificent sight, with rugged trunks rising 60 ft. or more to first branches. Their massive trunks have little taper, and all 12 of these great densely packed White Pines average 40”-50” dbh. Since it had stopped raining a few hours before, the ground was slippery, and the uneven terrain was a little too treacherous for stretching the “D” tape around the trees to do measurements. But I did (with the enthusiastic assistance of my friends) do some heights measurements using the NTS method. Some of these shots were straight up shots so heights are “not less than”. I could find only a few level spots where I could sight the trees from base to top, and, since I could not see the tops of the trees, the heights listed below are lower than the actual heights of the trees.

All heights are in feet.

White Pine straight up shot 129+
White Pine 112.8+
White Pine 104+
White Pine 130+
White Pine 117.9+

All these White Pines are massive, over 40” dbh, and up to 300 years old.

We also saw the monument to Lt. Blue, shot down over France in 1944, next to the broken snag stump of what used to the grove’s biggest tree; we found the log of this tree stretched out for a long ways along the ground.

We noticed a tall battered and solitary White Pine across NY 28 from Cathedral Pines. I got a good shot to the tree’s top, but I could not see the base (I got a distance of from 58-78 yards into the brush near the tree’s base with the 78 yard figure the most accurate - the top of the tree was 99.5 yards from my eye level). It is a very tall tree and I got a height of roughly 140-143 ft.

I also measured a very tall (for the species) slender Balsam Fir in the lower part of Cathedral Pines to a height of 85.6 ft.

In a swampy area to the west of Cathedral Pine is a tall Red Spruce – I got an estimated height of about 100 ft. on this tree, not being able to see the base.

Trees of Cathedral Pines:
Dominant: White Pine
Associate: Hemlock, Red Spruce, Balsam Fir, Beech, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Striped Maple (Sidney was enchanted with the large yellow Striped Maple leaves)

On Sun. Oct. 7, 2012, we went to Raquette Lake, and explored the magnificent old growth Raquette Lake Red Pines (see report on this grove); since Cathedral Pines is on the route to Raquette Lake, we passed Cathedral Pines twice, first on our way out of Old Forge, and then on our way back to Old Forge.

Tom Howard

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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by edfrank » Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:17 pm


You really should get a digital camera. You can buy one that takes 5 MP photos for $20 or so at a dollar store. I know Big Lots for example has a camcorder with 10 MP still capability for $25. An 8 GB SD card is about $7.

"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Thu Oct 11, 2012 4:29 am

Indeed! Digital cameras are pretty cheap, these days. They're the best tool ever invented for the explorer of wild places!

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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by ElijahW » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:48 pm


I visited the Raquette Lake red pines and the Cathedral grove today. Both were impressive sites, and were well-described by Tom. I did not measure any trees or take any pictures at Raquette Lake, for which I apologize, but I very much enjoyed my time there; it was very quiet and calming, despite being right next to a state highway. I did measure several trees and took many pictures at the Cathedral pines, which I'll post below. They should be an aid to Tom's story, and I hope they convey somewhat the size of the white pines and character of the grove that I experienced.

As Tom wrote, about a dozen white pines cover an area of about an acre, having girths between just over ten feet and slightly more than twelve feet. I didn't get any reliable height measurements on living trees, but from straight-up laser shots got figures similar to Tom's. Interestingly, the two largest-girth trees were dead, one near the lake shore at 12'3" and one long-fallen with no bark at 12'4". The lake shore pine measured 127' to a broken top, while the fallen, barkless pine I estimated to be 25' plus 90' of trunk to a broken top about 8" in circumference. Here are some pictures:
12'3", 127' white pine near lake shore
12'3", 127' white pine near lake shore
Same pine with logging tape.
Same pine with logging tape.
12'4" barkless white pine with same tape and Lt. Blue Memorial
12'4" barkless white pine with same tape and Lt. Blue Memorial
Finally, a few shots of the overall area. For the most part, the saplings are red spruce and hemlock, mixed in with a healthy dose of striped maple and other various hardwoods.
"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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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by tomhoward » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:23 am


Thank you very much for posting the great pictures - they do enhance the quality of my post on this beautiful and easily accessible site.

Tom Howard

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:09 pm

Eli Good photos. Tom- Wow this area is so similar to Cathedral Pines in Wisconsin. Larry

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Re: Cathedral Pines of 7th Lake

Post by dbhguru » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:03 pm

Tom, Elijah, et al.,

I've measured all the pines in that stand. One tree down hill measures just at 149 feet. All others are considerably shorter as you all reported. I'll have a post tomorrow on a great white pine site that Monica and I visited on April 24th in the Dacks. Also, more impressive cottonwoods in the Lake Champlain Valley.

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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