Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

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bbeduhn
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:28 pm

I'm still trying to get to the finest forests in this area. I'd heard that firefighters had cleared the trails in response to recent wildfire activity. Someone was misinformed. Sugar Creek had some work done on it but it is a roadbed and was never impassable. The Mackey Mountain Trail follows ridge lines and is encroached frequently by laurel and rhododendron. A late snow made hiking a wet endeavor as well. I turned back and hit a couple of other spots I'd been wanting to check out. Just south of Lead Mine Gap lies rich soils but lacks tall trees. Mountain silverbells are amongst the most common trees here, indicating very rich soils. Tulips do not dominate. Red oak, red hickory and pignut hickory are quite common. Red oak achieves great size.
16'4" red oak
16'4" red oak
16'4" & ~14' red oaks
16'4" & ~14' red oaks
Lirio tulip 145.6' 145.7'
Carya glabra 121.3'
Carya ovalis 124.6' 124.0'
Quercus rubra 110'+ 16'4" cbh
Quercus velotina 127.0'
Halesia monticola 93.7'

On the way back down Hickory Branch, I noticed a cut hemlock that appeared to be one stem but it had two beginning rings and bark inclusion. It became a 3' d tree in about 110 years.
double hemlock 3'd 110 years
double hemlock 3'd 110 years
lower falls
lower falls
Hickory Branch remeasures (from well below)
Carya alba 137.3'
Carya glabra 137.5'

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Tue Apr 11, 2017 3:28 pm

Question: Hiking UP the Snooks Nose Trail I have come to a point where I heard a loud sound of rushing water (coming from the right). If I descend into the cove from that point in the direction of the sound would I come to any old growth groves? I've been hiking in that area, but not off trail that high up the mountain.

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bbeduhn
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:10 pm

James Robert,
I haven't gone off trail at that point. I've measured from where the trail does a 180. Snooks Nose has a bunch of stunted, old growth, but nothing large. Most of the ridgetops in the Curtis Creek area are old growth. The rompous bowl, where you found large tulips, is pretty close to Snooks but is a cove beyond the small stream by Snooks Nose. There isn't too much in that cove from what I could see. I checked out a trail heading south from Snooks Nose. That is a dead end. It does have rich soils but they were harvested in the last 30 years. 90' skinny tulips are everywhere.

If you want to see some nice old growth, go south of Lead Mine Gap. Chestnut oaks dominate and get pretty large. It's a bit of a bushwhack. The big red oaks I found are an easy hike from lead Mine Gap.
Brian

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jamesrobertsmith
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:02 pm

Thanks! I don't mind bushwhacking to see the good stuff!

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bbeduhn
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:59 pm

I forgot about this picture. The little hemlock is regenerating from the bottom up. All of the hemlocks I've encountered that have staved off death from the adelgid have lost their foliage from the bottom up with some of the upper crown retaining needles. Hopefully, this will become more commonplace.
Regenerating hemlock
Regenerating hemlock

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bbeduhn
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:21 pm

I returned to Curtis Creek and noticed some nice pine groves right along the road. I don't know if these were planted or just arose naturally.The first grove I will call the Bridge Grove. I'd measured a couple of these pines before but had not crossed the bridge to get the the tallest one. The High Grove is surrounded by recent cuts.

Bridge Grove

Pinus strobus

150.0' 146.0' 142.7' 137.4' 137.1' 134.1'

High Grove

Pinus strobus

139.0' 137.1' 135.5'

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bbeduhn
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by bbeduhn » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:27 pm

A Revisit to Sugar Creek

Sugar Creek contains an old home site which is protected under the Antiquities Act of 1906. The posters state that you may feel free to wander but are not allowed to disturb the site or procure any artifacts. The only artifacts I procured were some pictures. Satellite shots showed tulips at the top of the cove above the ruins. I didn't get that far up two years ago. The top of the cove is very narrow and not as conducive to extreme tulip growth but it still didn't disappoint. A few old growth tulip relics dotted the slopes. I was a bit surprised to see these.

The site is thoroughly dominated by tulips. Other species are present but just two trees really stood out, a persimmon and a mockernut. I had under measured one of the tallest tulips on my last visit. I was hoping to find a 170' in the upper cove. The tallest one in the upper cove fell a bit short but I did get one down low.

I've yet to find out any information on the history of the estate that once stood here.

Liriodendron tulipifera

171.6' 163.9' 161.6' 158.5' 157.6' 157.1' 155.7' 153.5' 153.1' 152.5' 151.0' 150.5' 150.0'
149.6' 149.0' 148.9' 148.9' 148.4' 148.2' 147.6' 147.2' 146.8' 146.5' 145.8' 145.2'

Diospyros Virginiana

116.0' ~14" d

Carya alba

136.6'

Carya cordiformis

130.0'

Quercus rubra

131.4'

Quercus alba

128.9' 123.7'

Quercus montana

129.2'

Fagus grandifolia

112.1'

Betula lenta

110.3'

Platanus occidentalis

117.0'
Persimmon 116'
Persimmon 116'
Persimmon ~14” d
Persimmon ~14” d
Tulips, 171’ in background, center
Tulips, 171’ in background, center
171’ tulip
171’ tulip
140’s to 170’s
140’s to 170’s

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dbhguru
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Re: Curtis Creek, Mackey Mountain Area, Pisgah NF, NC

Post by dbhguru » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:28 am

Brian,

I remember a time when a 170-foot tuliptree was the goal. But now, the number of locations supporting them has grown to make 170 no longer a surprise. Good job.

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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