Big Creek

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bbeduhn
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Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:02 pm

Big Branch, Ash King

The Ash King hadn't been visited in some time so I ventured out to find it. Big Branch hits Big Creek just below the picnic area. The unmaintained trail leads through some rhododendron and then rises over a rock wall and enters the cove along Big Branch. I missed the stream crossing and headed up a flat loaded with super tall sycamores. It didn't take long until the Ash King was spotted. Then I also noticed that the trail was above the tree. I got a girth and then climbed up to the trail. The uptrail shots eventually yielded a 165' hit. The crown is enormous for such a tall tree. Later, I shot from downtrail and couldn't replicate the 165' figure. I then went above the trail and still had trouble topping it so I quit in frustration and in anticipation of the rest of the day's finds. Will got his 167' shot by being almost even with the top of the tree, I found out later. I continued past the ash for a couple of hundred yards but then turned back, knowing full well there was more to see but wanting to get into Baxter Creek as well.

The sycamores are unreal!!! I got a few numbers:

Fraxinus Americana white ash 165.1' 11'10" cbh 120.5' 10'8" cbh

Platanus Occidentalis sycamore 150.5' 150.0' 144.7' 142.1' 139.5'

Liriodendron tulipifera tulip 159.0' 154.7' 151.3'

Tilia heterophylla basswood 125.2' Will's 3 leader ( 129.3' 130.4' 128.2')

Pinus strobus white pine 127.9' 126.4'

Betula lenta black birch 99.2'

Fagus grandifolia beech 119.6' 115.8'

Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum 128.0'

Carya alba mockernut 117.7'

Quercus coccinea scarlet oak 117.4'

Magnolia fraseri Fraser mag 108.9'
Ash King 11'10"
Ash King 11'10"
Ash King
Ash King
Ash King
Ash King
Ash King
Ash King
Ash King 165.1', could be taller
Ash King 165.1', could be taller

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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:17 pm

Unnamed Cove, before Baxter Creek

This cove should be awash in wildflowers any day now. There is virtually no undergrowth whatsoever but it is rich. The trees appear a bit younger than on Baxter Creek and diversity is much lower as well. Tulip thoroughly dominates the slopes but buckeye has a presence and the few sycamores here are exceptional.

There is old growth further up, which I intend to get to next tree season. I just had limited time so I hit the bottom of the cove. the cove spills onto the same flat that Baxter Creek spills onto. The sweetgums and locusts are on the flat.

Platanus occidentalis sycamore Triple Sick Sycamore (158.3' 154.8' 146.5') 129.6' 3'9" cbh 132.3'

Aesculus flava yellow buckeye 143.1' 136.6'

Liriodendron tulipifera tulip 168.3' 160.0' 152.7'

Acer rubrum red maple 119.9'

Betula lenta black birch 107.5'

Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum 136.7' 136.7' 130.0' many more to be measured

Ulmus rubra red elm 131.2'

Robinia pseudoacacia blk locust 137.0' 127.2'

Carya alba mockernut hickory 110.0' 3'9" cbh
3 Dollar Buckeye and Triple Sick Sycamore
3 Dollar Buckeye and Triple Sick Sycamore

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dbhguru
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Re: Big Creek

Post by dbhguru » Wed Mar 23, 2016 7:53 am

Brian,

Great report and thanks for the 2 black birches. We're now up to 646 in the BB database. North Carolina has contributed 136 of those measurements.

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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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:54 am

Baxter Creek

This is the most famous trail of trees in Big Creek. It is a nature lover's paradise, a tree lover's paradise, a wildflower lover's paradise. A veritable smorgasbord of trees awaits the tree lover. Such richness and variety is seldom seen. Most of the fores t on the lower part of the trail is second growth with several remnant relic trees.
Approaching the cove, one passes through old fields that are now thriving with primarily tulip and sweetgum with black locust entering the mix. Young hemlocks are growing profusely, hundreds of green hemlocks filling up the understory along with dogwoods. Then, a relic tulip, sugar maple and red oak appear. Soon, buckeyes join in the swirl of trees. Sourwood makes an appearance. Sycamore lets its presence be known. Then, yellow birch, silverbell, beech, basswood, mockernut, larger sugars and large white ash join the party and it is a party! Soon, tulips take over dominance with bitternut and ash holding their own.

The trail meanders through boulder fields and rich soil as it climbs up the mountain coves and slopes. I stayed pretty close to the trail but did venture off a ways along a small drainage. This was boulder strewn but contains fine tulips, bitternuts, some sugar and basswood. This is just a cursory account. The site is as measured as almost any site in the east. The Rucker tulip is a bit shy of its former glory but another tulip has taken over the mantle of tallest, at least from what I saw. There may be more super tall trees awaiting discovery.

Quercus rubra red oak 136.8' ~12 cbh

Tilia heterophylla basswood 128.8' 128.5' 127.4' 127.1'

Aesculus flava yellow buckeye 136.3' 136.1' 135.6'

Acer saccharum sugar maple 131.4' 128.0' 126.8' 124.6'

Betula lenta black birch 111.0' 109.7' 108.6' stilted

Betula alleghensis yellow birch 100.9'

Fagus grandifolia beech 125.6'

Carya alba mockernut hickory 129.0' 129.0' twins, shared base

Carya cordiformis bitternut hickory 150.2' 148.6' 145.5' 144.7' 140.6'

Halesia monticola mtn silverbell 113.2' 108.4'

Platanus occidentalis sycamore 142.6'

Liriodendron tulipifera tulip 173.8' 172.2' 172.1' 171.7' 171.5' 171.4' 169.7' 168.0'
166.5' 166.0' 165.6' 165.3' 164.9' 164.6' 164.5' 164.3'
164.2' 163.1' 162.5' 161.9' 161.2' 160.0'

The former tallest has died back a bit, the Rucker Tulip, formerly 178.2' and the tallest known individual at the time. Here are the four tulips huddled at the Rucker site:

Left to right looking down trail (north)
149.0' 172.1' 173.8' 169.7'

The 185.1' tulip was an error of some sort so that has been removed.it stuck out being over 10 feet taller than any others I'd found. I'll have an update shortly.


I intend to get back next year and survey the entire trail and a bit off trail. Baxter Creek's Rucker index was 151.5' last I read. It may have crept up several tenths. I promise to take many more pictures next time. There's just so much gear involved that I forget about taking pictures.
white ash 13' cbh 143.6'
white ash 13' cbh 143.6'
white ash 13' cbh 143.6'
white ash 13' cbh 143.6'
bitternut hickory 8'8"cbh 148.6'
bitternut hickory 8'8"cbh 148.6'
Last edited by bbeduhn on Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:37 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:07 pm

Sycamore Cove

An unnamed cove just a bit up the Big Creek Trail was home to the tallest known sycamore, black birch and cherry, plus the Tree Amigos tulip trees. I didn't locate the birch or get up to the cherry but the sycamores did not let me down! I noticed just a handful of black birch and they weren't all that impressive. What I believe is the former tallest sycamore at 162.2', is now 158'. It had some crown dieback years ago but seems to have recovered. It may go slightly taller. The cove is officially unnamed so I'm naming it Sycamore Cove. Big Creek is home to so many superlative sycamores so it seems fitting as the tallest resides here. Sycamore Cove is littered with mossy logs just above where the trail intersects the cove. Higher up, a large chestnut oak and a large red oak had fallen in the past several years. A few black birch were down as well but they did not appear to be tall.

The cove is SSE in aspect, not the typical tall tree habitat, but as Will Blozan says regarding the area just above the Tree Amigos, "True to Big Creek fashion however, the trees did not care so much about the aspect or
topography and continued to be impressive, albeit in a very narrow riparian setting." His quote being taken ever so slightly out of context, one would not expect to find such delights of treedom in this cove.
Sycamore cove 1.jpg
Sycamore cove 2.jpg
Sycamore Cove

Platanus occidentalis sycamore 160.3' 7'11" cbh (current champ) 158.0' (presumed former champ) 9'+ cbh
150.5' 148.2' 141.5' 140.6' 139.9' 139.6' 136.0'

Liriodendron tulipifera 172.0' 168.0' 166.7' 166.6' 166.6' 164.3' 161.1'
159.8' 158.3' 157.9' 157.0' 155.6' 153.0' 151.2'

Fraxinus biltmoreana Biltmore ash 141.2' 141.7' 140.6' 139.9' 137.1' 137.0'

Liquidambar styraciflua sweetgum 136.1'

Robinia pseudoacacia black locust 144.2' 138.4'

Fagus grandifolia beech 121.4'

Juglans nigra black walnut 115.7'

Quercus montana chestnut oak 129.8' 126.3' 125.2'

Aesculus flava yellow buckeye 129.7'

south facing slope just west of cove

Platanus occidentalis 142.2' 141.8'

Lirio tulip 150.0'

Oxydendron arboreum sourwood 104.2' 104.1'

Robinia pseudoacacia 128.9' cbh 3'6" 128.1'

Quercus velotina black oak 138.4'


Big Creek flats, north side of creek

Platanus occidentalis 137.5' 136.4' 133.5' 133.3'

Liquidambar styraciflua 136.6' 136.4' 133.3' 131.4' 130.8' 130.1'

Tsuga canadensis hemlock (south side) 122.5'

Betula lenta 99.7'

Ostrya virginiana hophornbeam 63.4'

Amelanchier mtn serviceberry 63.5' 52.7' id uncertain


I missed the black oak in my initial numbers summary. That is a solid figure. I was joined by three deer when measuring it. They were fine with my presence so long as I was about 30 yards away. One would keep watch while the other two browsed. the sycamores on the south facing slope impressed me. Two sourwoods over 104', not too shabby either. The 160.1' is the tallest current sycamore as far as I know.

Edit: I removed the Tree Amigos info as I did not actually get up to them.
sycamore 158'
sycamore 158'
sycamore 160.1'
sycamore 160.1'
sycamore 160.1'
sycamore 160.1'
Last edited by bbeduhn on Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Will Blozan
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Re: Big Creek

Post by Will Blozan » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:23 am

Brian,

I'm not convinced you measured the Tree Amigos... Josh Kelly and I measured them a few years back and they were going strong. All three are in an almost dead straight line with two of them side-by-side. Do these look familiar?
Tree amigos4.jpg
Will

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ElijahW
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Re: Big Creek

Post by ElijahW » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:35 am

Will,

Those are clearly steel power line poles worked over in Photoshop. You can't fool me. Seriously, though, do you think a nurse log was involved? Or an old fence line, perhaps? Cool trees.

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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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:18 pm

It appears that I did not reach the Tree amigos.

The ash in question are not green. They do not make it onto the alluvial flats, stopping at a bluff just several feet above the alluvial flats. Will has checked the leaves and they do not key to green. The bark and form are questionable to me still, but three folks more knowledgable than myself call them Biltmore ash.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:15 pm

Biltmore Ash Photos

These shots are from the Sycamore Cove and along Big Creek. The trees grow in coves, along the Big Creek Trail and on down to just above the alluvial flats. The younger trees do look somewhat like Biltmore ash. The old growth Biltmore ash doesn't look like the young ones but they may age differently. Old growth Biltmore ash hasn't been seen much so we don't know what they might look like. This big, bendy ash was liklely not straight enough to have been used. Some tulips just below the Big Creek trail and growing in steep conditions also appear to be old growth along with some remnants on the lower Baxter Creek Trail.

Some younger Biltmore ash
bilt ash A.jpg
bilt ash B.jpg
bilt ash C.jpg
bilt ash D.jpg
bilt ash E.jpg
This biltmore ash some age to it
bilt ash 1.jpg
bilt ash 2.jpg
bilt ash 3.jpg
bilt ash 4.jpg
bilt ash 5.jpg

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bbeduhn
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Re: Big Creek

Post by bbeduhn » Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:17 am

Sycamore Cove

I got back to Sycamore Cove to check out the Tree Amigos. I had seen them previously but had measured them from far too low of a vantage point. I got up a bit higher but still didn't get the best shot at the tops. Time was running short so I regrettably didn't climb a bit higher to get the perfect shot. I'm sure Will will correct me if I didn't get to the Tree Amigos, but these certainly appeared to fit the bill.
Tree Amigos
Tree Amigos
Tree Amigos
Tree Amigos
The tallest one has a thick upper crown of at least two leaders growing close together. I still got good numbers but this one could hit 180'.

Lirio tulip 173.5' 170.6' 166.5'

Quercus montana 130.0' 129.4'

Quercus velotina 120.4'

Fraxinus Biltmore 141.2' 138.0'

Halesia monticola 108.4'

Betula lenta 102.5' 99.5'

Platanus occident 134.9' 134.0' 133.5'

The sycamores are skinny ones right at the entrance to the cove. This cove is littered with young 130' class sycamores in addition to the tall and not much older 150's and 160'. There is much more up higher in the cove. I'll hit it this fall and get some better vantage points on the tulips. The three tulips all topped 170' in 2010, and one appears to top 180'.

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