Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, and Gettysburg National Park

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Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Michaux State Forest, and Gettysburg National Park

Post by BeeEnvironment2020 » Mon Sep 20, 2021 5:52 pm

Hi Everyone,

Earlier this week I was able to make a family trip out west in Pennsylvania, to primarily visit Gettysburg National Military Park, and Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which is surrounded by the 85,500+ acre Michaux State Forest.

This area is not really Dutch Country at all, more like Pennsyltucky (not a negative connotation) farmlands and HUNDREDS of apple/fruit orchards. I have actually never been out to that area until just a month ago when I visited family in Shippensburg, but it is a beautiful area, defined by hundreds of hills and foothills of the Blue-Ridge-Mountains, which extend into this fascinating part of Pennsylvania.

Anyway, I do believe I likely found a possible old-growth site, and many old and interesting trees alike.

So, I will give some mapes to start off:
Click on image to see its original size
Pine Grove Furnace State Park:
Pine Gro
Pine Gro
Anyway, I will now begin describing the journey across the State.
We started off from here in Southeastern PA, and traveled the 2.5 hour drive to Gettysburg. Because I already visited Gettysburg once before many years ago, we decided not to do the visitor center tours and just head straight to enjoying the scenery and beauty of the park.

We firsted stopped at Little Round Top, with its beautiful amazing vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the way to little round top, via some back roads, I noticed some "pockets" of what appeared to be old-growth White Oak forests, and some rather old-looking Tulip Poplars as well, in the area of Wright Avenue. I remember reading that Gettysburg NP did contain ~100 acres of scattered old-growth forest, that were altered in various ways during the battling of the Civil War.

I did not measure any trees at Gettysburg, but here are a few beautiful photos of the view from Little Round Top for your enjoyment:
View of Warren Statue from Little Round Top
View of Warren Statue from Little Round Top
View from Little Round Top
View from Little Round Top
After that, we decided to head to Pine Grove Furnace State Park, to explore the trails and forests for a few days.
While I did not bring along measuring equipment on this trip, I did fins some amazing forests at Pine Grove Furnace State Park! The Appalachian Trail (A.T) cuts through the park, and is the half-way point of the ENTIRE A.T, meaning halfway between the starting in Georgia and the end in Maine.

So, on the first day we visited, I took the A.T trail to visit a section of Pine Grove Furnace State park that cut near Mountain Creek. Before leaving on the trip, I originally checked out some of the satellite views and trail systems of Pine Grove, and I discovered that, in a area where I found some likely old-growth and ancient trees, was a "Excursion Park" that existed from at least 1880, and was purposely established, "In a grove of magnificent trees" (History and Genealogy Of The Ege Family In The United States). Seeing how there was a "grove of magnificent trees" in 1880, I could believe it was either very old second growth forest or possibly even a bit of old-growth forest!

Anyway, I took the Appalachian trail along Mountain Creek for about 3/4 mile, and after progressing that long, I noticed a stark difference in the forest, with pit and mound topography, mature hemlocks and pines, and multiple, dense, successional stages developing as I walked along the A.T. All of these characteristics reminded me quite of the old-growth forests at Ricketts Glen State Park, but with more southern species, like Tulip Poplars, taking the place of some of the Maples.

If anyone here requests a map of the believed to be old-growth forest area, please let me know. I will be glad to make one upon request!

So, once in this part of the forest, I was amazed at the diversity of tree sizes, heights, and ages! I took a un-named trail off the A.T, towards mountain creek about 500 feet, and I found some of the largest and, seemingly, oldest trees I visited during the trip.

One of the massive trees was a huge and columnar Eastern White Pine, showing old-growth characteristics, and had nearly no taper at all for about 70 feet (or more) in height! It clearly towered above the hardwoods, but might have also reached higher heights than some of the other pines.
The volume of this tree was amazing! It measured: ~12 Feet in CBH, and maintained most of that girth all up the branchless trunk to 70 some feet. It must have been at least 130 feet in height, but I really cannot say how higher it could be. I could believe even about 150, but that would be hard to prove this time of year, with the very dense understory.

Photos of the ~12 CBH Eastern White Pine (PLEASE SCROLL TO THE RIGHT TO SEE THE WHITE PINE):

Click on image to see its original size

Bob Leverett would have loved to see this amazing White Pine! It was not just a ordinary pine, or a pine that looks like it was planted. It looked like, hard-core, old-growth virgin white pines you see at Cook Forest or Mohawk Trail State Park in Massachusetts! This photo above was taken with perspective, showing the tree as leaning, because I could barely fit the tree in from far back on the trails!

I also discovered a Ancient Tupelo tree, about 4 feet in CBH, growing with lots of balding bark and old-growth characteristics. It was located within ~5 feet of the huge White Pine tree. Here is an image of its trunk near ground level:
Ancient Tupelo Pine Grove Furnace State Park-min.jpg
And here is a photo of the White Pine with the Tupelo on the right-hand-side:
IMG_20210916_095736 (1)-min.jpg
Because it has taken me about 2 days to compose this message, I will reply with more of my finds soon. Please feel free to respond in the meantime though!

-Russ A.

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