Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 1217
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:25 pm

Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve

Post by Rand » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:04 pm

This relatively small site sits on the eastern edges of the Columbus suburbs, surrounded on all sides by development. The mature forested area is only 1/4 x 1/3 of a mile square, and is surrounded by scrubby new growth and wetlands:
Gahanna woods overview.png
I took an hour or so to walk the trail system to give the Old Growth Forest Network an overview of the site, so given the dense foliage, poison ivy, and mosquitoes, all measurements are very much approximate. It’s a nice site with lumpy, rolling terrain leading to a variety of forest types in a small area; white oak dominated the higher areas with lots of beech, red oak, and sugar maple on the mesic areas. A few black walnuts, bitternut hickories, and black oaks made an appearance in these areas as well. The low lying areas cupped shallow ponds surrounded by swampy forest of silver maples, ashes (dead), swamp white oak, pin oak, and a few elms.

It’s very much a second growth forest, with a few old growth remnants hanging around. Most of the canopy trees were 1’-2’ dbh range with red oaks commonly reaching 100-105’ tall. My feeling is, it was high graded 70-100 years ago (a felled ash gave a 69 year ring count) The few old growth trees tended to be bent, leaning, and or low forked, with this ~4’ dbh specimen being typical:
fat red oak.jpg
This fallen black oak gave a ring count of at least ~170 years, but the core had very dense rings, and I was driven off by mosquitos before I could count them all. It's actual age probably exceeded 200 years:
fallen black oaks.jpg
A few exceptions:
- This ~3 dbh x ~100’ tall swamp white oak was easily the most visually impressive tree in the woods:
big swamp whites.jpg
- This Red oak was distinctly smaller, but still impressive:
Big oak Mergeds.jpg
The tallest tree I measured was this ~2’ dbh x ~115’ pin oak:
tall pin oak-Mergeds.jpg
Ash and bitternut hickory tend to be taller than the tallests oaks in Ohio so more than likely the tallest ashes reached 120'. However, most of the ashes died in the Columbus area from the emerald ash borer in 2011 or so, and have since been felled as hazard trees. There are a few bitternut hickories, but the foliage was too dense to get good measurements.

Finally, the beech groves on the site were quite picturesque:
beech groves.jpg
Two beeches.jpg

User avatar
Posts: 838
Joined: Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:04 pm

Re: Gahanna Woods State Nature Preserve

Post by ElijahW » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:25 pm


This looks like a cool place, with lots of diversity in the canopy. It’s good to see an island of green within all that suburban sprawl. Thanks for sharing,

"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

Post Reply

Return to “Ohio”