Beaver Lake Nature Center Nov. 1, 2015

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Beaver Lake Nature Center Nov. 1, 2015

Post by tomhoward » Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:39 pm


On this partly cloudy, cool, windy day, Sunday Nov. 1, 2015, Elijah Whitcomb and I surveyed Beaver Lake Nature Center in northwestern Onondaga County. Jess Riddle surveyed this site in 2009, and found some unusually tall trees.

The forest at Beaver Lake is 2nd growth. Most of the trees still had their leaves, and the forest was spectacular with golden sunlight illuminating the golden, leafy, windblown canopy.

Elijah and I measured many trees; strong winds roaring through the trees created a challenge as high points moved in and out of view, but we got some good numbers. Beaver Lake has the tallest trees we’ve measured in northern Onondaga County so far.

The first area we surveyed was a tall, but not very old (dating to 1930s at earliest) plantation of mostly Norway Spruce, with some White Pine and Scots Pine near the Visitor Center.

Right near the Visitor Center are a few large (but not very tall) Sycamores, and some small Cucumber Magnolias very near the northern limit of this species.

Young Tuliptrees are abundant in all areas of Beaver Lake that we surveyed.

Trees seen at Beaver Lake:

Dominant: Sugar Maple, Beech (many suffering from Beech Bark Disease), Tuliptree, Black Cherry

Associate: White Pine, Scots Pine, Hemlock, Norway Spruce, White Cedar, Quaking Aspen, Bigtooth Aspen, Bitternut Hickory, Pignut Hickory, Yellow Birch, Hornbeam, Hophornbeam, White Oak, Red Oak, Black Oak (1 tree in Beech grove near lake shore), Chestnut (Lakeview Trail), Cucumber Magnolia, Red Maple, Basswood, White Ash, Black Ash, Witch Hazel

Trees measured in conifer plantation near Visitor Center:

White Pine: 103.8 ft.

Young White Pine: 112.5 ft. – tallest White Pine we know of in northern Onondaga County.

Norway Spruce (typical of stand): 109.5 ft.

Elijah measured a Norway Spruce to 112 ft, tallest in northern Onondaga County.

This plantation contains what could be the tallest Scots Pines in the USA. They are young, slender trees in a small group. I measured one of these Scots Pines to 111 ft. in Oct. 2010. I measured the same tree on Nov. 1, 2015 to 109.5 ft.:

Elijah got a 108 ft. on the Scots Pine next to this tree.

We next surveyed the part of Beaver Lake that is called the Sugar Bush. This is a grove of very tall hardwoods, mostly Black Cherry, with plentiful Sugar Maple, and White Ash, some Tuliptree and Basswood. It is here that Jess Riddle measured the tallest trees in 2009. Despite their height, these trees are not very old, maybe up to 120 years. This site was probably pasture or even fields in the 19th century, and we found piles of stones placed there by farmers. It is a spectacular forest, a dense stand of tall straight trees tossing in the wind. The Black Cherries are magnificent, the tallest of their kind in central NY, and among the tallest in NY. They average about 2 ft. dbh or a little less, and over 110 ft. tall. Many trees in this stand still had their leaves.

I measured Black Cherries to 121.6 ft., 115 ft., 116.7 ft., 111.3 ft., 105.2 ft., 117 ft., 117.7 ft., 115 ft., 114.9 ft., 113.8 ft., 116.3 ft., 112.2 ft., 106.5 ft.

Elijah measured one of the largest Black Cherries (28.9” dbh) to 122 ft. This was the tallest Black Cherry we would measure, the tallest Black Cherry in central NY.

I measured a White Ash to 117.4 ft., and another White Ash to 112.2 ft.

Elijah measured a Black Cherry to 118.8 ft.

At the top of a low hill just above the trail, is a large Tuliptree; Jess Riddle measured this tree to over 121 ft. in 2009, the tallest tree he would measure at Beaver Lake. On Nov. 1, 2015, Elijah measured this Tuliptree to 130.2 ft., the tallest tree we would measure at Beaver Lake, and the tallest tree we know of in northern Onondaga County. It could be the tallest Tuliptree anywhere this far north, as the over 140 ft. Tuliptrees at Green Lakes are south of Beaver Lake.

Elijah measured a slender Hemlock in this area to 101 ft.; this is the tallest Hemlock we’ve measured in northern Onondaga County. The much taller Hemlocks at Green Lakes are in southern Onondaga County.

Elijah measured a double-trunked Basswood to 109.9 ft.

Elijah measured 2 Black Cherries to 118 ft. (the last one in full leaf). Most of the Black Cherries were bare, or had crisp silvery leaves.

Elijah measured a lone White Pine to 111 ft.

Elijah got 104.9 ft. on a leafy Red Oak near the 130.2 ft. Tuluptree.

Elijah got 109 ft. on a White Ash.

Average height of 17 Black Cherries measured in Sugar Bush grove: 115.3 ft. This grove covers maybe about 2 or 3 acres, and has at least 30 or 40 towering Black Cherries.

We left the magnificent Black Cherry grove reluctantly, but there was more to see at Beaver Lake. We entered a swampy area with Hemlock, White Cedar, young Tuliptrees over 100 ft. tall, some young White Pine, Yellow Birch, Hornbeam. and several unusually tall slender Quaking Aspens, which still had their golden leaves. These could be the tallest Quaking Aspens in NY State.

Elijah measured a 15.4” dbh Quaking Aspen to 100.1 ft., which, as far as I know, is the tallest Quaking Aspen ever measured in NY.

Elijah measured another Quaking Aspen to 96 ft., and near it a double-trunked White Pine to 106 ft.

I measured a Quaking Aspen in this group to 97.3 ft.

Elijah got 114.8 ft. on a young Tuliptree.

I measured a Black Cherry between this Tuliptree and the double-trunked White Pine to 103.2 ft., and a Quaking Aspen in the same area to 94.4 ft.:

Elijah got 79 ft. on a Yellow Birch (tallest measured in northern Onondaga County), and 108 ft. on a young Tuliptree.

We were on the Lake Loop Trail, as we entered a beautiful forest of tall (but not very old) Sugar Maple; the Maples were covered with orange leaves that glowed gloriously in the sunlight. Many Beech trees in this section had glowing, coppery leaves. Elijah got a straight up shot of 108 ft.+ in this section.

We turned onto a trail leading back to the Visitor Center, through Beaver Lake’s beautiful Beech grove. Elijah got 100 ft.+ on a straight up shot on a Red Maple in this section. The tallest trees in the Beech grove are 2 Tuliptrees. I measured the tallest of these 2 Tuliptrees to 113.6 ft. Elijah got a straight up shot of 110 ft.+ on the other Tuliptree.

I counted about 126 rings on a 10” radius Beech stump in this section.

Near some benches called the Council Ring, are several large trees, including a Pignut Hickory 24.9” dbh, and a White Oak with some balding bark 31.2” dbh. Due to high winds off Beaver Lake, none of these trees is very tall. Elijah got 101 ft. on a White Pine by the Council Ring, the tallest tree in this section.

The forest between the Council Ring and the Visitor Center is mostly young 2nd growth. Elijah got 99 ft.+ on an American Elm in this section, tallest American Elm I know of in Onondaga County.

In this same area we found 2 unusually large Shadbush trees, one 53.2 ft. tall and 2 ft. 4” cbh, the other 47 ft. tall and 3 ft. 2” cbh.

Toward the Visitor Center are at least 3 large open-grown White Oaks under 90 ft. tall. The largest White Oak (about 4 ft. dbh) is still alive with half of its bark off; this tree used to have a sign saying it dated to 1839.

Elijah and I next took the short and beautiful Lakeview Trail through a forest that could be the oldest at Beaver Lake. It was late afternoon, and the golden sunlight illuminating the golden leafed trees was spectacular. There were many noisy Geese on the lake, and several of them flew low over the treetops, and visitors commented on how beautiful they were, with the sunlight reflecting off their bodies as they flew over the treetops.

I measured a Tuliptree in this area to 112 ft.

We came to a group of 3 magnificent Pignut Hickories, all covered with golden leaves that glowed in the sunlight, filling these trees with the most glorious light. Elijah got 111 ft.+ on a straight up shot on the largest of the Pignuts (28.3” dbh), and 108 ft.+ on a straight up shot on another Pignut.

In this section we also saw White Oak, Black Ash, Witch Hazel, Spicebush, Buttonbush (in the water at Inspiration Point), White Pine, Hemlock, Chestnut, and the largest trees are huge coppice Red Oaks.

We found some huge Cucumber Magnolia leaves on the ground, and eventually found a few small trees of this species. I measured one Cucumber Magnolia to 53.3 ft.

I measured the biggest Cucumber Magnolia right by the lake to 65.7 ft.

As far as I know, this point at Beaver Lake is the northern limit for Cucumber Magnolia, and possibly for the Magnolia genus as a whole.

We also found an even larger Shadbush (3 ft. 4” cbh), which Elijah measured to over 62 ft., tallest of its kind in central NY.

Inspiration Point at the end of the Lakeview Trail, has glorious views of the lake, especially in the golden sunset light. At this site, there are some rather large White Oaks with deep russet leaves, and a small pleasant group of White Pines, which are not as tall as they look. I measured one of these White Pines to only 85.7 ft.

Beaver Lake was closing so Elijah and I retuned to his car, and went back to North Syracuse.

Tree Heights Measured Nov. 1, 2015 at Beaver Lake Nature Center:

White Pine 103.8
White Pine 112.5 – tallest, northern Onondaga County
Norway Spruce 109.5
Norway Spruce 112 - tallest, northern Onondaga County
Scots Pine 109.5 – possibly tallest USA
Scots Pine 108
Black Cherry 121.6
Black Cherry 115
Black Cherry 122 – tallest central NY
White Ash 117.4
Black Cherry 118.8
Black Cherry 116.7
Black Cherry 111.3
Tuliptree 130.2 – tallest tree, northern Onondaga County
Black Cherry 105.2
Black Cherry 117
Black Cherry 117.7
Black Cherry 115
Black Cherry 114.9
Hemlock 101 – tallest, northern Onondaga County
White Ash 112.2
Basswood 109.9
Black Cherry 113.8
Black Cherry 116.3
Black Cherry 118
Black Cherry 118
White Pine 111
Black Cherry 112.2
Red Oak 104.9
Black Cherry 106.5
White Ash 109
Quaking Aspen 100.1 – possibly tallest NY
Quaking Aspen 96
White Pine 106
Quaking Aspen 97.3
Tuliptree 114.8
Black Cherry 103.2
Quaking Aspen 94.4
Yellow Birch 79 – tallest, northern Onondaga County
Tuliptree 108
White Ash 108+
Red Maple 100+
Tuliptree 113.6
Tuliptree 110+
White Pine 101
American Elm 99+ - possibly tallest, Onondaga County
Shadbush 53.2
Shadbush 47
Tuliptree 112
Pignut Hickory 111+
Pignut Hickory 108+
Cucumber Magnolia 53.3
Cucumber Magnolia 65.7 – possibly at northern limit
Shadbush 62+ - tallest central NY
White Pine 85.7

Beaver Lake Rucker 10 (Nov. 1, 2015 survey only):

Tuliptree 130.2
Black Cherry 122
White Ash 117.4
White Pine 112.5
Norway Spruce 112
Pignut Hickory 111
Basswood 109.9
Scots Pine 109.5
Red Oak 104.9
Hemlock 101

Rucker 10: 113.04 ft.

Beaver Lake Rucker 5:

Tuliptree 130.2
Black Cherry 122
White Ash 117.4
White Pine 112.5
Norway Spruce 112

Rucker 5: 118.82 ft.

Tom Howard

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Re: Beaver Lake Nature Center Nov. 1, 2015

Post by ElijahW » Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:59 pm


I returned to Beaver Lake earlier today to walk the trails and measure some trees. When I went looking for an earlier trip report on this site, I realized that it hadn't been updated for a while. Tom and I have visited in the intervening years, and I've made a couple of visits by myself, so I suppose I should report on the current numbers; they've changed a bit since 2015.

Most of the tall trees can be found along the Deep Woods and Woodland trails, in the vicinity of the Sugar Bush demonstration site. Though this area has some large fallen trees on the forest floor, as well as a good amount of herb life, the flatness of the terrain certainly is suggestive of an old field. Like Tom mentioned above, these trees aren't old growth, and probably date back to the late nineteenth century. Black Cherry is the dominant tree here, but Sugar Maple will eventually move in and take over, absent some catastrophic weather, disease, or man-made disturbance. The White Ash in this stand look healthy, and many of the mature ashes have metal numbered tags affixed, suggesting that they've been treated, or at least are being monitored for EAB.

The remaining tall trees are in the Hemlock Hollow area near the visitors' center or the conifer plantation along the Deep Woods trail. As Tom mentioned above, the plantation trees are fairly young, but some (especially the Scots Pines) are of significant size.

Beaver Lake also contains a modest arboretum, mostly containing native species. I'll include some of those trees in my tally below.

Here is the updated list of Beaver Lake trees:

Red Maple Acer rubrum

115.8' x 7.20'

Sugar Maple Acer saccharum


Shadbush Amelanchier arborea


Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis


Red Hickory Carya ovalis

118.3' (listed above as Pignut Hickory)

White Ash Fraxinus americana

129.3' x 6.45'

Tuliptree Liriodendron tulipifera

134.8' x 10.44'

Cucumber Magnolia Magnolia acuminata


Norway Spruce Picea abies


Eastern White Pine Pinus strobus


Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris


Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides


Black Cherry Prunus serotina

127.8' x 7.60'

White Oak Quercus alba

106.4' (Double-trunk)

Northern Red Oak Quercus rubra


American Basswood Tilia americana


Eastern Hemlock Tsuga canadensis


American Elm Ulmus americana

99.0' (likely dead)

Rucker 10: 119.0'

Arboretum Trees:

Fraser Fir Abies fraseri


Black Mulberry Morus nigra

18.5' (Multiple stems)

Black Spruce Picea mariana


Staghorn Sumac Rhus typhina

34.6' x 1.86'


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