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Letchworth State Park

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 10:13 pm
by ElijahW

On my way home from Zoar Valley today, I spent an hour or so walking through the 1912-1914 plantations at Letchworth State Park. I was able to confirm heights on several trees I spotted earlier this year. The following trees are current NY height champions:

Honeylocust (thornless): 105.9' x 5'11"
Cucumber magnolia: 119.3' x 5'7"
Rocky Mountain Douglas fir: 123.7' x 5'7"

I also measured a Norway Spruce to 129'+ and a White Pine outside the plantation to 132'. Letchworth has a number of impressive plantation species, including Noble Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and White Spruce. The canyon view isn't bad, either.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:01 pm
by sradivoy
I was there briefly last year and was impressed with the place. I measured two roadside trees that caught my eye - a 130' white pine and a 137' white pine.

Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 6:34 pm
by ElijahW

I’ve returned to Letchworth a handful of times since my last post, including a trip yesterday with Tom Howard, and I thought an update to this thread was overdue. All trees measured are located in the southern, or Wyoming County, portion of the park.

*NY Maximum Height

Previously Measured Trees:

Cucumber Magnolia, Latest dimensions: 122.8’ x 5.69’

Honeylocust, Latest dimensions: 107.3’ x 6.13’*

New Trees:

Eastern White Pine

135.3’ x 7.2’


140.5’ x 11.22’

Eastern Hemlock

134.3’ x 7.33’

Bitternut Hickory


Norway Spruce


Black Cherry


Noble Fir

111.6’ x 4.39’
107.4’ x 7.36’

Cucumber Magnolia

115.1’ x 9.44’



Ohio Buckeye

84.1’ x 7.05’*

Yellow Buckeye

80.8’ x 6.85’*

Although slightly taller (probably just over 130’) Norway Spruces can be found in the plantations near Inspiration Point, the two listed are more impressive to me because they’re open grown. Both are located near the Glen Iris Inn, along with the Ohio Buckeye, Arborvitae, a couple of nice Yellowwood trees, and a nearly 120’ Rocky Mountain Douglas-Fir.

The remainder of the measured native trees grow either along a hillside or within a ravine adjacent to the Council Grounds, an historical meeting place for the tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy. After leaf-off, I should be able to do better in this area, Height-wise.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:55 pm
by dbhguru

Good to see a post on Letchworth. I’ve driven by that scenic location a number of times, but for some reason, I didn’t think there was much there to measure. Obviously, I was wrong.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:25 pm
by ElijahW

Most of the park is not interesting at all. Your instincts are mostly correct. All of the trees I’ve measured are near the Portageville end of the park, in close proximity to the Council Grounds and Glen Iris Inn. Some larger trees may also be within the canyon, but access to that area is difficult. Some old growth is rumored to be down there.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:04 am
by Erik Danielsen
134.3' hemlock! These are the kinds of numbers I feel like we ought to be seeing out of Letchworth... it's such a big place. I bet we can rustle up some good trees, there's just a bunch of unimpressive areas to check of the list to narrow it down to the good stuff. I've seen some photos from hikes led by the park naturalist, Doug Basset- some really good looking stuff.

Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:55 am
by djluthringer

Hemlocks in the 130's here are a VERY good sign of what yet might be out there.

On my short trip there several years ago, I only had time to briefly explore in several places on top of the gorge and easy access/heavy public use trails to the bottom. I was itching to get off trail down in the bottom and into any of those flats along associated bends in the river. If the bottom hasn't been whacked in 100+ years, I would expect it to produce some tall hardwoods:

basswood 120's
red oak 120's
black cherry 120's
white ash 130's
tulip 140's

If you could find a place that goes back 150 years or more, there is potential to reach some record heights that approach Zoar Valley. This ofcourse is mostly conjecture since I haven't seen the bottom areas, but... this is the pattern I've been findings with my other explorations of similar but much shallower ravines (100-225ft depth) in many Lake Erie drainages in Erie County, PA.

It is a big area to start with, but if you have access to LIDAR, it should help you narrow things down a bit.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:13 pm
by Bart Bouricius
I was there in June and measured a few big cucumber magnolias a couple of tulips and some large hemlocks said to be "old growth"?. I will have to dig up my notes and photos.


Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:06 am
by Erik Danielsen
Bart, it would be great to have your measurements! Letchworth is a big place, the more measurements the better.

Re: Letchworth State Park

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:02 pm
by ElijahW

After another visit to Letchworth this afternoon, I’d like to share with you some additional tree measurements. First, a couple summary comments:

1. With the exception of the listed Sycamore and Tuliptree, no measurements have been made on any of the gorge-bottom terraces (these are all upland trees).

2. I haven’t measured any trees that I would consider old growth. Most productive areas seem to date from the mid- to late-19th century.

3. Letchworth now is second (still well behind Zoar Valley) in terms of Rucker Height indices for NY State. No 150’-class trees have been documented yet.

Trees Measured since last post:

*NY Maximum Known Height




142.6’ x 11.89’

White Pine

146.8’ x 7.83’

Pignut Hickory

137.7’ x 10.63’* (possible currently listed state champion)
134.8’ x 5.63’

Shagbark Hickory

131.1’ x 6.62’
130.8’ x 5.89’

Cucumber Magnolia

128.7’ x 7.28’*


127.3’ x 7.87’

Current Rucker 10: 136.1’
138’ Pignut (center background)
138’ Pignut (center background)
Big-bottomed unmeasured Cuke
Big-bottomed unmeasured Cuke
128’ Cuke
128’ Cuke