Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

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ElijahW
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Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by ElijahW » Mon Sep 18, 2017 11:28 am

NTS,

In the eastern Adirondacks near Schroon Lake, Hoffman Notch, though not appearing as an isolated area on maps, feels like a lonely place. With only fifteen or so miles of marked trails and its highest summit trail-less (Hoffman, at 3700'), most visitors stick to Severance Hill (or Mountain). Within the notch itself, you're more likely to encounter the native large fauna than other people. I've had the opportunity to observe White tail deer, Turkeys, Ruffed Grouse, Black bear, Moose, Fishers, River otters, and a Snowshoe hare at close range in and around Hoffman Notch. All that said, this is one of my favorite places to be.

Except for a stand of White Pines on Severance, I covered terrain only along established trails for this survey. I've divided this report into three sections, corresponding to the marked trail network: Hoffman Notch Trail/Bailey Pond, Big Pond Trail, and Severance Hill. I attempted to climb Hoffman Mountain a couple of times, but was rained out. When I succeed in getting to the top, I'll include any interesting tree finds in this thread. Here are a couple of links to good descriptions and maps of the Hoffman Notch Wilderness area.

http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/tag/h ... wilderness
https://apa.ny.gov/State_Land/assets/Wi ... nNotch.htm

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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ElijahW
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by ElijahW » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:14 pm

NTS,

Hoffman Notch Trail/Bailey Pond Loch Muller Trailhead to Blue Ridge Rd.; 7.4 miles (14.8 out & back) 7/15/17

Red Spruce

101.0' x 7'

Yellow Birch

62.8' x 12'2"

Arborvitae

61' x 10'9"

I measured a few more trees than this, but not many. I lost my phone and the notes it contained shortly after this visit. The Hoffman Notch Trail goes through the heart of the notch, and the canopy consists of Northern hardwoods (mostly Yellow birch and Sugar maple), Hemlocks, and Red spruce. Along the larger streams, Arborvitae makes things much more interesting; some of these cedars appear to be very old, much older than most of the surrounding forest, and some exceed 80' in height. Red spruce 5-6' CBH are common along parts of this trail, as are Yellow birch over 10'. In terms of age, most trees reaching canopy height likely date to the early- to mid-19th century, though some sections may qualify as virgin.

I was fortunate to spot my first Adirondack moose on this visit, a mature bull with a small set of antlers. I was unable to get a clear photo of the fellow, but the scene made my day. On previous trips to the notch I had seen old moose sign, but I never expected to see one in my lifetime.

The Bailey Pond trail (about 1.5 miles round-trip), branching off to the west of Hoffman Notch, was not exceptional in any way. Young trees, plantation Red pines, and spruce were mixed in with an occasional large, but not tall White pine along the trail. The view across Bailey Pond itself was pleasant, and I was able to watch a Great Blue Heron do its thing while I sat and rested for a while. Following are some photos from my visits:
Indian Pipe
Indian Pipe
Shinleaf
Shinleaf
Crazy purple mushroom (unknown ID)
Crazy purple mushroom (unknown ID)
Solomon's seal fruit
Solomon's seal fruit
Bluebead lily fruit
Bluebead lily fruit
Spotted Wintergreen
Spotted Wintergreen
Big Marsh, site of Moose sighting
Big Marsh, site of Moose sighting
Moose sign
Moose sign
Cedar-dominated stream (10'9" Cedar on left)
Cedar-dominated stream (10'9" Cedar on left)
12'2" Yellow birch
12'2" Yellow birch
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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Larry Tucei
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:28 pm

Elijah- Wow what a monster Yellow Birch. All the wildflower images are really cool as well> Larry

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:57 pm

That's quite a yellow birch! The arborvitae sound very interesting as well. That photo you included of Spotted Wintergreen is actually Rattlesnake Plantain, one of our wild orchid species and a much less common find than spotted wintergreen- congrats!

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ElijahW
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by ElijahW » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:11 am

Erik, Larry,

Thanks for the compliments. There's more to come in the next few days.

Erik, thanks for the correction. I've seen this same plant several times over the summer, and though it didn't quite match with guidebook pictures of wintergreen, it was close enough to make a wrong assumption. I have a couple more cool flower pictures coming in the next post.

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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AndrewJoslin
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by AndrewJoslin » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:56 am

Great report, the yellow birch is amazing. Your purple mushroom is Cortinarius violaceus, Violet Cort. Your rattlesnake plantain is Goodyera tesselata, Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain. Seems to be more prevalent in western Mass and upstate NY than
Goodyera pubescens, Downy Rattlesnake Plantain which is the only species of the Goodyera genus which I ever find in eastern Massachusetts.
-AJ

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by Ranger Dan » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:56 pm

Image number 4 is yellow mandarin, Disporum languinosum. Solomon's-seal is unbranched and has nearly-black berries. False Solomon's-seal is also unbranched and has a terminal cluster of red berries.

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ElijahW
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by ElijahW » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:04 pm

Dan,

Thank you for correcting my ID. I just did some browsing on the internet and checked it against my Audubon guide, and your description is spot on. You can probably tell that I'm a beginner when it comes to wildflowers. I welcome all the knowledge I can get.

Andrew,

Thank you for your help, as well. On this hike I saw mushrooms of what seemed every shade, but the deep purple ones were my favorite.

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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ElijahW
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by ElijahW » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:15 pm

NTS,

Big Pond Trail Hoffman Rd. Trailhead to Hoffman Notch Trail Junction; 5.7 miles (11.4 out & back or about 1.2 miles to Hoffman Notch Loch Muller Rd. trailhead) 8/26/17

White Ash

112.6' x 9'

American Basswood

112.1' x 6'1"

Sugar Maple

98' x 12'

American Beech

86' x 6'11"

Arborvitae

85.2' x 5'4"

Striped Maple

54' x 1'7"

The Big Pond Trail, like the Hoffman Notch Trail, offers almost nothing in terms of tall pines. Two forest types dominate most of the landscape here: Second-growth hardwoods on the higher, well-drained slopes, and a mix of nearly pure Hemlock and Hemlock-Red Spruce-Arborvitae communities in the lower, poorly drained areas. Upon completing my hike, I noticed that I hadn't recorded any Hemlock measurements, which was an unfortunate omission; Hemlock may be the most common tree species along this trail. Though it doesn't reach much above 100' in height, a few Hemlocks likely exceed 10' in girth and are probably around 200 years old.

Near the junction with the Hoffman Notch Trail, I came upon a recent blowdown affecting mostly Striped Maples, several of which probably were over 60' tall. One dead standing tree certainly was in the mid-60s, but its top was tangled in a Hemlock, and my laser was unable to reach it. The Beech listed above I found near this blowdown. Mature Beeches are becoming rare in the Adirondacks due to Beech Bark Disease, and this one seemed fairly healthy, in spite of a damaged crown. Speaking of blowdowns, they seem to have had a major effect on some sections of hardwood forest, with many tall trees having fallen in the last decade or so.

Big Pond, the source of this trail's name, is an interesting place by itself. In at least one marshy spot along its shoreline, my brother and I found a thriving population of Northern Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) a couple of years ago. I revisited this place on my most recent hike and found what I believe to be Spatulated Sundew, or Drosera intermedia. I was hoping to find some Black Spruce in this area because of its similar association with a bog habitat, but did not. Like Big Marsh to the west, Big Pond also seems to be a possible moose-sighting location, given the right time of day and the whims of the moose. Beavers and loons definitely find Big Pond a comfortable place, as I've seen both on previous trips.

Some photos from my survey:
112.1' x 6'1" Basswood
112.1' x 6'1" Basswood
85.2' x 5'4" Arborvitae
85.2' x 5'4" Arborvitae
Big Pond beaver dam
Big Pond beaver dam
Big Pond bog area
Big Pond bog area
Northern Pitcher Plant
Northern Pitcher Plant
Spatulate-leaved Sundew
Spatulate-leaved Sundew
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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dbhguru
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Re: Hoffman Notch Wilderness Area

Post by dbhguru » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:54 pm

Elijah,

What's the best you've done on striped maple so far in the Daks?

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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