Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

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Erik Danielsen
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Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

Post by Erik Danielsen » Thu Nov 24, 2022 9:08 am

Shelving Rock Falls is a popular tourist attraction on the east side of Lake George, within the Lake George Wild Forest in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park. This location is discussed in Leverett and Kershner's Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast, but it attempting to follow the directions given there is not straightforward- it appears that the access road may have been re-routed to the north in the time since the book was published, and a number of small parking lots have been established. Due to the high visitation pressure parking is very strictly limited to these parking lots only, and they can fill up remarkably early. I'd recommend arriving early on a weekday if you want to be sure that you won't end up driving a couple dozen miles down a dirt road just to find you can't legally park anywhere.

It is a beautiful spot. I was on a tight schedule and aiming for tall pines revealed by LiDAR that were all in mature second-growth so I was not able to visit any of the intriguing areas of old-growth hemlocks described in the book, but I'd like to return and get a better look around. What I did find established this location as the second-tallest White Pine site in NY state (the tallest is pending a full report). There may be another two or three trees in the 160s and probably a few dozen in the 150s. Tall trees of other species were scarce, but one could probably scrounge up a decent rucker index with enough searching.

White Pine

166' 2" x 10.97'cbh
164' 9" x 13.4'cbh double crown that splits about 50' up
163' 2" x 10.17'cbh
159' 6" x 9.58'cbh
159'
156' 7" x 9.88'cbh
152' 4" x 13.94'cbh

The second listed tree is NY's third 13x160-class tree, and with these measurements NY is up to 12 trees over 50m. That 13x160' tree is right across the road from one of the parking lots on a steep slope- I measured it from a spot within a few yards of my car. That makes this a remarkably accessible spot to see some really tall pines.
Attachments
Full view of the 164' 9" x 13.4'cbh pine.
Full view of the 164' 9" x 13.4'cbh pine.
View of the 164' 9" x 13.4'cbh pine with the parking lot in the background.
View of the 164' 9" x 13.4'cbh pine with the parking lot in the background.

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dbhguru
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Re: Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

Post by dbhguru » Thu Nov 24, 2022 4:37 pm

Erik,

Do you have a guess as to age of the 13 x 160 class pine? I could imagine in going back to when that region was being cut unmercifully. Maybe 1870? So, maybe 150+ years old? If so, the average ring width would be approximately 0.17 inches. As an annual rate, that's fast f-or a forest-grown pine. Thoughts?

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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MikeK
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Re: Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

Post by MikeK » Fri Nov 25, 2022 10:30 am

Ah, Hogtown... A wonderful area, but yes, horribly crowded at the right (wrong?) times.

I didn't really put it together immediately because I'm not intimately familiar with circumference measurements, but yes, that's quite large. Anything over 4' dbh is a very sizable pine for the Adirondacks. And of course those heights are very impressive. I've heard many a fish tale about 200' pines in the eastern Adirondacks, so perhaps this is something to do with climatic conditions. For instance, the environs surrounding Lake George and perhaps some isolated areas along Lake Champlain are the only Appalachian oak-pine forests in the park. The southern part of Lake George is particularly warm, and dry as far as Adirondack climate goes. I'd also guess the topography has something to do with those trees getting so tall and resisting wind damage - there are some natural coves in that area that would likely protect those trees.

Boy it would be nice to date those trees - and perhaps keep some tabs on size vs region to other stands of known age - like Pine Orchard, Cathedral Pines or Elders Grove. I'd guess the growth rates in the north and western regions are significantly slower.

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a_blooming_botanist
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Re: Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

Post by a_blooming_botanist » Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:46 pm

Erik,

Nice work! You really are on a roll putting the Lake George area on the tall tree map!

Jared

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Shelving Rock Falls, Washington County

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Dec 04, 2022 1:13 pm

Bob, I wouldn't expect these to be much more than 150 years old, and possibly less. The diameter of the 13x160' pine is somewhat affected by flare on its relatively steep slope perch as well as swelling around a wound on the uphill side, perhaps an old fire scar. Maybe it is a little older, but I'd think the vast majority of the 9-11'cbh trees look less than 150 years old, and the 13x160' tree has a double crown that would allow it to grow faster than the rest. The 152' 13.94'cbh pine is a little more differentiated from the bulk of the site's pines and may be an older trees between 150-200 years old.

Mike, stay tuned for a full report on the NY's new White Pine supersite that's located right on the other side of Lake George. Mostly tall, not thick, and topography and geology are indeed key apparent factors in their height. It's hard for me to lump this area in with the rest of the Adirondacks ecologically. It's very different in composition and the height thresholds for all species other than White Pine are very different. 4' DBH is really pretty large for White Pine anywhere (at least today), but the Adirondacks (at higher elevations) are turning out to be the epicenter of pines reaching and exceeding that diameter. So in that sense, it's less big "for the adirondacks" than it is relative to anywhere else.

Thanks Jared!

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