Caledon State Park

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Ranger Dan
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Caledon State Park

Post by Ranger Dan » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:47 pm

East of Fredericksburg, VA, Caledon State Park is an old growth Mecca that I've always found very rewarding for its expanses of clear, open forest full of magnificent deciduous trees. This visit, my buddy Phil and I would discover several giants new to me off-trail, in addition to my old friends along the trails that make this park "second only to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest", as I had heard quoted years ago in regard to its huge tuliptrees. No doubt many studies have been made of this large park's old growth, among them by our distinguished members, I'll bet. From this casual visit, I'd like to share some images and observations.

We hiked down Boyd's Hole trail to the Potomac River first. There are scattered stately trees along the way through stands of various ages, mostly mature. One stand we explored off-trail appears to be about 200 years, with nice tuliptrees 3-4' DBH beginning to show old growth characteristics.
Caledon 200-y-o tulips.jpg
Caledon 200-y-o tulips.jpg (180.44 KiB) Viewed 2425 times
There is a lot of forest like this in Caledon, perhaps some older.

Near the river there there is a willow oak measuring about 18' CBH. It's a well-formed, tall tree with a straight bole and wide crown.
Caledon 18' willow oak.jpg
Any of our viewers know this tree?

The return loop from Boyd's Hole passes through a short stretch of roughly 100-year-old forest in an area of fertile soil where several tall, stately second growth tuliptrees are 10-11' CBH. This stand has some of the best second growth tulips I've seen. From this trail we hiked all of the green trail, and found just off-trail, a wonderful little valley that I think must be virgin. There are several 4-5' DBH ancient trees here, mostly tuliptrees with sculpted old crowns.
Caledon 16' tulip.jpg
Caledon 16' tulip.jpg (122.63 KiB) Viewed 2425 times
The largest, measuring about 16' CBH, is a fascinating hollow tuliptree inside which we both stood with room to spare.
Caledon beech.jpg
Caledon beech.jpg (153.91 KiB) Viewed 2425 times
Along the miles of trails here there are many large pristine-trunked beeches, some 3' DBH, and several species of oaks frequently as large and larger, with some approaching 5' DBH. There is a light understory of holly in most areas, and very little undergrowth. One can view through this open, ethereal forest for hundreds of yards across gentle ridges and ravines, and down to wetland flats. There are bluffs in stretches along the river where bald eagles nest (and for this reason, much of the park is closed to casual visitors). The stretch of the green trail that passes near the highway is mostly old field, though spiced with occasional large but relatively young trees. But the best groves of giant, ancient tuliptrees that I know of in this park are on this trail, and it's worth a very long drive just to see them.
Caledon giant.jpg
Caledon giant.jpg (145.38 KiB) Viewed 2425 times
There are several stunning tuliptrees 5-6' DBH along this stretch of little valleys. The best grove of all is at the very end of the trail, where there are eleven tuliptrees 4 and 5' DBH in a single acre, plus one in view down the hollow to rest the eye.
Caledon grove.jpg
Caledon grove.jpg (132.51 KiB) Viewed 2425 times
This sanctuary is near the modest plantation house, in a cool, rich hollow where I imagine ladies and gents of the past took their Sunday rest in the shade of these ancient trees, and preserved them for generations for us, so that we might see a glimpse of the world now gone away except for here, and a few other precious places.

Ranger Dan

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edfrank
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by edfrank » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:03 pm

Dan,

Excellent post. it is good to hear from you. These are some very impressive trees and photographs.

Ed Frank
"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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Ranger Dan
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by Ranger Dan » Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:23 pm

Thank you. I have more to post about the old-growth wonderland in Virginia's Northern Neck. Soon I hope to explore Crow's Nest.

I just visited the famous former national champion tuliptree in Bedford, VA, half an hour away from my home. In spite of its mutilations and loss of massive limbs, it remains the King of all the tuliptrees I have seen. In fact, because of the cavernous, walk-through openings and sculptural elements revealed, perhaps it is more wonderful than ever. My next mission is to photo-document it. It is in a chain-link enclosure, but today the gate was open, so I was able to see up-close some elements of which I was not aware. When you visit this April, perhaps you could take an increment boring in a section I noticed where there is about 2' of solid wood at the edge of a cavity. The rings there are very small. This may prove to be an older tree than the estimate of 200 years I recalled seeing. I have witnessed this tree's changes for over 30 years, and I fear it may not be long before it completely falls apart. I would love to meet you there.

I read that you and others will be at Poplar Forest...15 minutes from my place. A woman who worked there tells me that one of the big tuliptrees in the yard was suspected to be infirm and a hazard, so they had it cut down, only to find that it was sound all the way through. I hope that the notoriety that your company will bring to the remaining trees there may help to ensure their future in their current state, rather than as stringed instruments, paneling, or tourist trinkets that the murdered one probably became.

Ranger Dan

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:06 am

I've missed this park! I'll have to make a point of seeing it.

Where is that big poplar near Bedford? We travel through there from time to time and I didn't know about it.

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by Ranger Dan » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:12 am

It is in the town's Poplar Park, and the tree is just in sight of 460 bypass if you know where to look. Exit at Hwy 122 NORTH and go east, away from 122. Turn right on Smith St., then soon another right into a housing development. It's on the corner left. The tree is ten feet in diameter.

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James Parton
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by James Parton » Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:32 am

Dan,

What is the current national champion tuliptree?
James E Parton
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Will Blozan
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by Will Blozan » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:01 am

Ranger Dan, James, Robert,

The current champ also in VA appears to be a single stemmed fattie on a slope. It maybe legit but no ENTS has measured it. The Bedford Poplar is among the most disappointing trees I have ever seen. Not only was it poorly measured (overstated by over forty feet in height) but it is not a single tree. It is a fused clump of at least four stems.
http://www.nativetreesociety.org/fieldt ... _stump.htm
I imagine JRS will have some choice words to describe this tree.

Will

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:28 am

Good god!!! They ruined it!! What the HELL were they thinking??!! IDIOTS!

I've been to Bedford half a dozen times but never knew about that park. At any rate, you can't even stand beside the tree. Another point of suckage.

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Rand
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by Rand » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:23 pm

Well, here's what the virginia tech page sayz:
Bedford chainsaw massacre victum.jpg
http://cnre.vt.edu/4H/BIGTREE/bigtree_d ... aryKey=290

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Ranger Dan
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Re: Caledon State Park

Post by Ranger Dan » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:57 pm

Better directions to the Bedford Tuliptree:

From 460 west as you enter Bedford, exit right, just past Wal-mart. Turn left, under the highway. This is Link Rd. From 460 east, exit right at the hwy 122 NORTH exit, then turn right onto Link Rd. Turn right on Smith St. Then turn right on the second street, which is unmarked, but has a stop sign. The tree and parking lot are on the left.

Dan

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