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Big Red Oak in Shenandoah

Hello everyone,

I don't know if this Red Oak is the largest in Virginia or not, but it is definitely a contender. Unfortunately, when I came across it I did not have any good way to measure it but I can say that the DBH is easily in the 5-6 foot range and the tree is quite tall being a real forest tree and not a field tree.

The back story is that I worked as a backcountry park ranger for the NPS in Shenandoah for five great summers and had a lot of opportunities to explore the wonderful off-trail areas of the park. One day myself and a couple other rangers were doing an off-trail hike on Old Rag mountain. We climbed the mountain via the ridge trail then dropped down the steep canyon between the main and south summits. Just as the slope started to ease, I spotted a tree off in the distance that I knew was much larger than your normal Shenandoah second or third growth forest. As we got to the tree it turned out to be a red oak and was in fact quite massive, easily 5-6 feet in diameter and quite tall. It's a single stem and I'm sure it would score well on the point system. We did take a couple pictures, but I don't have any copies. They are on the NPS network somewhere. We had a good GPS, but couldn't get any signal after a few minutes of trying so we eventually moved on. The tree is in a remote spot, at least a mile from any trail, and would be quite difficult to get back to, but on the off chance that anyone is interested, I can give details and point out the location on a map within a couple 100 yds or so. I'm sure that I could find it again if I duplicated the same route. I've never heard of anyone else before or since taking the route we took that day and it's possible that nobody has run into that tree since the park was populated back in the early 30's. This would be approx. 1/4 mile above the top of the highest fields that used to cover the lower slopes of Old Rag.

There is also rumored to be a huge Rhododendron on the east slope of Old Rag, but I've never seen it. It's not too crazy a thought though to think that there could be other large trees on the mountain. The soil is good and the higher parts of the mountain are rough enough to make logging difficult.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the story, it's something that crosses my mind from time to time and I'd love to go back. If anyone wants any additional information, feel free to contact me. I've also checked out many other potential large tree areas of the park and if anyone is interested I can give some clues to anyone looking for a tree finding adventure.
by meheidt
Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:26 pm
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