Pleasant Valley Campground, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

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Pleasant Valley Campground, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Post by ElijahW » Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:09 pm


While in Washington last week, I made a special east-west drive through the Cascades, starting near Yakima, WA on WA-410, and effectively ending at the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park near the Ohanapecosh River. The scenery, even with a smokey haze, was outstanding. My purpose for taking this route to western Washington was mostly to check out Pleasant Valley Campground, in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and its outstanding Western Larches. Robert Van Pelt describes his discovery of the larches in his book, Champion Trees of Washington State. Van Pelt wrote about Pleasant Valley almost thirty years ago, so I had some doubt about whether or not I would find his trees, but I thought it was at least worth a shot.

The short story of my survey is that I believe Van Pelt's champion larch has fallen, but the forest at Pleasant Valley is well worth a visit nonetheless. Larches are numerous, especially near the American River, and are joined by impressive Grand Firs, Engelmann Spruces, Ponderosa Pines, and Douglas-firs. The tallest Western Larch I measured (213') made my day. I sent an email to Mr. Van Pelt, asking if he knew of the tree, but I haven't gotten a reply yet.

Here's what I measured:

Grand Fir Abies grandis

183.4' x 11.06'

Western Larch Larix occidentalis

213.0' x 13.75'
182.9' x 8.90' (east on WA-410)
181.5' x 10.96'

Engelmann Spruce Picea engelmannii

192.2' x 12.92'
177.6' x 9.25'

Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta

127.9' x 5.12'

Western White Pine Pinus monticola

142.9' x 6.39'

Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa

178.7' (east on WA-410)
159.8' x 10.58'

Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii

186.8' x 15.39'
175.0' x 14.45'

A couple of additional notes:

*I'm unsure of the subspecies status of the Douglas-firs I measured. They're east of the Cascade crest (though not by much), and obviously smaller than the Coast subspecies, but seem (to my eye) to be an inter-grade of ssp. menziesii and glauca. I'm pretty ignorant on this topic and could use some help if anyone is interested.

*This general area has some great Ponderosa Pine. If I had more time, I might focus on just that species.

A few closing photos:
Engelmann Spruce & Western Larch above the American River
Engelmann Spruce & Western Larch above the American River
213' Western Larch
213' Western Larch

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