Hocking Hills State Park

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Hocking Hills State Park

Post by Rand » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:12 pm

This well known scenic area in southeastern Ohio was briefly surveyed by Tom Diggins and his students in 2004-5:
http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldt ... lls_sp.htm

I also made a short report in 2008:
http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldt ... ockets.htm

To give a brief recap, this area is characterized by steep cliffs and ravines cut through the massive black hand sandstone. The ravines themselves are only a few hundred feet deep, but are often ringed by cliffs up to 150' high. At Old Man's Cave a weaker lower layer has allowed a large recessed cave to form. The most well know is Old Man's Cave, but Ash cave ~ 5 miles to the south is somewhat larger. An aerial view looks like this:
Queer creek.jpg
1) Lower Falls, located below Old Man's Cave proper (tourist trap). The deep hollow below the falls is ringed with the most impressive hemlocks in the parks. The tallest and largest was reported by Tom Diggins to be 12' cbh x 144' tall. One impressive specimen sits out by itself on a shallow slope at the mouth of a small side hollow. It's a massive tree with a broadly rounded crown whose top twig is difficult to pick out from the main trail (I got a few uninspiring numbers on the rangefinder and quickly gave up). I believe rumors a 160' hemlock come from a failed tangent method measurement of this tree. Measuring from the opposite slope gives a better view of it's top twigs and I measured 144.9' x 11' cbh. This may be the same tree reported by Tom Diggins but I'm not sure because I got a smaller cbh. Accurately measuring cbh's of large trees on slopes is difficult by one's self so that may explain the discrepancy.

2) The narrow stream valley leading south from the falls is characterized by 30'-40' high of steep rocky slopes topped by equally high sandstone cliffs. The north half is dominated by old growth hemlocks with a few skinny beeches lost in between. Black and yellow birches are common on the stream banks and narrow benches. As one works their way south the valley gradually widens. Roughly halfway down the valley, the species composition abruptly switches to thick stands of young tuliptrees on the slopes and sycamores on the widening streamside benches. Near the edges of this transition the tallest hemlock (149') can be found at the base of the western slopes. There are many similar sized hemlocks in this area, so a determined search may turn up a taller one.
HH-below lower falls.jpg
3) 'The 'Flats at the Fork' (my own silly name,) This wide flat is found where the stream flowing south from Old Man's Cave joins Queer Creek flowing west from Cedar Falls. The flat is dominated by a thick grove of +140' sycamores. The 151' sycamore, 154' tuliptree and 152' tuliptree are located here.
HH-flats at the fork.jpg
4) Upper Queer Creek. Groves of hemlock and large beeches trade places with young tuliptrees on the streamside benches as one travels upstream. As the valley narrows, hemlocks gradually take over as one gets closer to Cedar Falls. The hemlock forest near Cedar Falls is shorter, more open and generally look older than then one at Old Man's Cave. I did not measure any hemlocks here.
HH-upper queer creek.jpg
5) 'The Pocket' The valley abruptly widens into a series of shallow hollows cut into the north facing valley wall, presumably marking a zone of weaker rock. All that is visible from the main trail is a wide swampy bench, discouraging exploration. Once one covers the flat ground one first hits a grove of young tuliptrees covering the lower slopes, succeeded by large beaches mixed with smaller hemlocks on the upper slopes. The tallest beach (135.8') sugar maple (122.8') can be found toward the top of the hollows. A few red maples can also be found here.
HH-the pocker.jpg
6) 'Lower Queer Creek'. This moderately steep, but high southward facing slope conceals the most diverse forest in the gorge. Large full crowned, but not particularly tall, tuliptree dominate the lower slopes, while hickories, red and white oaks can be found on the upper slopes. A scattering maples make their first appearance. A few Green ashes make a disappointing show (107') at the very bottom of the slopes. The tallest red (134') and white oaks (120') can be found here.

As one travels west the valley widens. The valley bottom is wide and flat and fairly wet. It is very brushy and very few large trees grow there. Beavers also live in this stretch of the stream and are perhaps responsible for the lack of trees on the valley bottoms. The cliffs gradually recede and the wide south facing slopes are dominated by many large, but not particularly tall white oaks. I did not measure many of these trees. A few handsome young tuliptrees can be found at the base of the slopes. But generally the forest gets younger and shorter looking as one travels west. The north facing slopes are short or end in steep cliffs. The immediate upper slopes are dominated by small hemlocks, grading into an upland oak-hickory association.
HH-lower queer creek.jpg
7) Cedar Falls. Tourist trap. Very similar looking to Lower falls. The exceptional basswood (10' 10.5" x 123') is clearly visible from the trail a short distance down the trail to Old Man's Cave.

8) One higher streamside bench hosts by far the largest tree in the park. A enormous spreading Red Oak 13' x 131' tall.

9) This is the old white pine plantation I posted on previously. The tallest I found was 151' tall, but there are many similar sized trees here so a determined search my turn up a taller one.
HH-pine plantation.jpg
Finally the Rucker Index:

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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by gnmcmartin » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:26 pm

Wow! Wonderful report. I would like to see this area some day.


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Jess Riddle
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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by Jess Riddle » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:04 pm


Excellent report. Having descriptions of each individual section of the site helps to visualize the site and understand why particular species become large in different sections. Sizes are impressive for several species.


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Steve Galehouse
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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by Steve Galehouse » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:28 pm


Great trip report---Hocking Hills is sort of like a "Little Smokies", I think. Ive been there many times, but in pre-ENTS days. The scenery there is just fantastic, especially in Winter.

every plant is native somewhere

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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by edfrank » Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:07 pm


A very impressive trip report on a very nice site. I like how you organized the data from the trip.

"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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James Parton
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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by James Parton » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:17 pm


You turned up some nice 150's on this trip. Two tulips, two white pines and a sycamore. That's pretty dang good!
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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Re: Hocking Hills State Park

Post by dbhguru » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:46 pm


Exciting report. Great tuliptree info. Ohio rises to take its place with exceptional TT locations. I hope you and Steve can visit more sites and measure the top 5 TTs on each location so that we'll have a good representation of the species from that part of the Mid-west.

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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