Opportunities for (Old) Growth

One thing can be said for all those early American loggers: they were thorough. From 950 million acres of virgin forests that stretched from the east coast to the Mississippi when the first Europeans arrived, they managed to do away with almost all of it. Almost.

While they’re not as quite as impressive as those otherworldly giant cedars and redwoods out west, there are stands of old growth from Maine, Ontario, the Adiondack wilderness, Virginia and Texas to here in North Carolina at Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: all accessible to the public.

Old growth white pine at Douglas Woods in Wisconsin

Kids love superlatives. Visiting an old growth forest has lots of them: biggest, oldest, tallest, last. It’s a small-scale adventure: a little hiking, a little science and history, built-in bragging rights: “we saw the oldest, tallest, coolest trees in (insert name of your state/region).”

We took Ms. M to Joyce Kilmer for a New Year’s hike a few years back and the trail was easy enough even for her (four at the time, I’d say).

American Forests has a registry of the “biggest in species” trees all over the US with an online database you can search by zipcode to find the biggest trees near you (note that these are single trees, not forests). So you can do a quick after-school drive to see a “champion” tree or a weekend drive/hike to a see whole forest of them.

The 'treehouse tree' in Bradford County, PA

One more superlative: these  unassuming bristlecone pines in Utah and California are the longest-growing organisms on earth (one was just discovered that was over 4,600 years old!).



Filed under Places to See List

2 responses to “Opportunities for (Old) Growth

  1. Joanne,
    I saw your post on the listserve and thought your titles sounded intriguing. The books look really interesting; congratulations on a novel idea! I wish I had known about them sooner; Joyce Hostetter and I co-author a newsletter for teachers and in our pre-summer issue we talked about fun places to visit. I’m going to make a note of your website so I can refer back to it next May (if I don’t note it now, it’ll get lost in the shuffle.) If you are interested, you can view our newsletter at:

    loved these pictures of the trees too! I am a tree hugger, I confess!

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