Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

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#1)  Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Postby bbeduhn » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:45 pm

Mountain Bridge Wilderness

Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap has a nice, new visitors center, with a dam and pond, surrounded by some rather tall conifers. The hardwoods, however, were less impressive with the exception of bitternut hickory.

Pinus echinata   123.4' 119.4' 116.4' 110.1'

Pinus strobus      129.5'

Tsuga canadensis  119.5'

Fagus grandifolia  106.7'

Quercus alba        119.8'

Quercus montana   122.2'

Quercus rubra       127.1'

Lirio tulip             133.5'

Carya glabra        115.3'

Carya cordiformis   137.3' 126.2'

Carya alba             119.0'

Liquid styraciflua    115.4'

Betula lenta            97.1'

Ulmus rubra            96.6'

Platanus occident    124.5'

I got fogged out less than two miles in. If there is any rich cove forest, I certainly didn't find it. Rhododendron claims much of the area but there may be some more impressive forest at the other end of the trail.
Last edited by bbeduhn on Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#2)  Re: Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Postby bbeduhn » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:56 pm

Mountain Bridge Wilderness

Oil Camp Creek

A ranger at Jones Gap said that there should be some rich cove forest in the lower portion of Oil Camp Creek, so I started there. After a while., I turned back and drove around to the higher elevations. This proved to be a very good idea. The forest is fairly rich up high but tulip struggled to attain the heights it usually does along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. The white oak was the best of the lower, very acidic section. Pignut hickory stole the show at the higher altitude.

Quercus alba    130.8' 126.3' 125.7' 123.5'

Quercus rubra   136.2' 135.2' 129.2' 128.6'

Quercus montana  134.5' 127.8' 126.4' 125.6'

Tsuga canadensis  115.3' 114.0'

Pinus echinata     107.7'

Pinus strobus        126.6'

Fagus grandifolia   123.2'

Lirio tulip               135.3'

Acer rubrum          100.7'

Aesculus flava        111.2'  94.1'

Tilia heyerophylla   119.9'  116.1'

Carya glabra           144.4' 130.7' 130.2' 129.8'

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#3)  Re: Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Postby bbeduhn » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:28 pm

Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Caesars Head State Park

Raven Cliff Falls

I'd hiked the loop Raven Cliff about 15 years ago. It's a fairly grueling endeavor as the trail descends into chasm of Matthews Creek and scrambles back up the other side. The creek crossing formerly consisted of two steel cables, one for the feet and one for the hands. There is now a solid log bridge. Most sites along the Blue Ridge Escarpment are loaded with hickories but from what I've seen, one type of hickory dominates. Here, mockernut and pignut are codominant with a healthy dose of bitternut. Jess Riddle has measured nearby and found an abundance of pale hickories. Red hickory also has a presence. The hickories achieve impressive girths but just a few reach impressive height.

Lirio tulip    150.1' 144.6' 143.9' 140.0'

Carya alba   134.5' 125.2' 117.2'

Carya glabra  135.8' 131.5' 128.8' 127.6' 127.2'

Carya cordiformis  129.0' 126.7' 126.0' 125.3'

Carya ovalis     124.8'

Quercus alba    130.0' 125.0'

Quercus rubra   121.0'

Quercus montana  113.3'

Quercus velotina   109.7'

Prunus serotina     113.8'

Fraxinus biltmoreana  126.5'

Acer rubrum         116.5'

Nyssa sylvatica     102.9'

Tilia heterophylla   119.3'

Magnolia fraseri      111.3'  109.3'

Oxydendron arboreum   92.5' 89.7'

Pinus strobus         128.6'

Pinus virginiana     91.1'


I found a tree that I'd never seen before with very distinctive bark. Young shoots are very rusty orange. Mature bark is gray and orange. These trees may well be mountain camellia. If so, they'll shatter the record.
               
                       
camellia 1.jpg
                       
camellia?
               
               
               
                       
camellia 2.jpg
                       
camellia?
               
               
               
                       
camellia 3.jpg
                       
camellia? crown
               
               
I'm sorry for the sideways images. I found one photo online by Will Cook which appears to match up nicely. Will Blozan thinks it may be camellia but the pictures are inconclusive on their own. I'll make it back in spring or summer to collect twigs and leaves and perhaps even see it in bloom if it is indeed a camellia.

25" cbh 42.5' h 13' spread (estimate)
20" cbh 50.2' h  11' spread (estimate)

This old mockernut hickory has growths that I've never seen before. It grows near Matthews Creek.
               
                       
bitternut 1.jpg
                       
mockernut
               
               
               
                       
bitternut 3.jpg
                       
mockernut with growth
               
               
Last edited by bbeduhn on Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#4)  Re: Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area

Postby Larry Tucei » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:01 pm

Brian-   Wow you are a measuring machine. Looks like you had a great time in the Forest. I hate Rhododendron. I remember hiking through that stuff with Will and company years back it's not fun.    Larry

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