On March 11, while scouting a couple of state properties on the NY side of the Delaware River, I decided to continue south on US 209 past Milford, PA, and check out a little of the Water Gap National Recreation Area. Dale Luthringer reported on this area on the Google Groups site about ten years ago, and it is not new to NTS.
Spackmans Creek runs down a ravine and under 209, and the small section of old growth White Pine-Hemlock forest is not detectable until you're almost in it. In the top of one of the dead pines sits a Bald Eagle or Osprey nest; I'm unsure which. Although HWA is present, some of the old hemlocks are still doing well, and a couple of drainages to the south of Spackmans contained impressive second-growth stands, as well. I agree with Dale's assessment of the age of the pines at around 250 years. The hemlocks may actually be a little younger. With that said, I didn't come to measure hemlocks; my mission was the 163'+ Pine Dale originally reported on.
The top of the tallest pine doesn't stand out from its neighbors, but its base is much lower, close to the water. Though the top has been broken likely more than once, it's a pretty straight tree overall with an intact, healthy crown. Using laser and tripod, I came up with a height of 165'5". Subsequent emails with Dale suggest I probably did not hit the very top of the tree, and my mid-slope calculation was likely a little high. I plan to return later this year, and expect to get 168' or so, but probably still less than 170'.
I didn't update the girth of the tree due to the steep slope and slick snow, nor did I take any photos. As far as I could tell, no trail leads directly to the site, which is a good thing for its protection. I caution any visitors to use care when navigating the slopes. Also check out the neighboring creeks and their waterfalls; this is a beautiful place.
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks
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