Monday, July 12, 2010

One Awesome Walk in the Woods

"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic."

Evangeline A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My wife and I took a weekend trip to northwestern Pennsylvania, to attend a regional woodcarving show at the Sawmill Arts Center in Cook Forest State Park. The show was enjoyable, but the highlight of the trip was a hike through an amazing old growth forest of ancient white pine and hemlock trees aptly named: “the Forest Cathedral”. The big ones were over 36 inches wide and over 150 feet tall. Most of these giants were over 300 years old. The forest floor was covered with fallen tree trunks and, as Longfellow said, blanketed with moss and ferns. I took photos, but they just don’t do justice to the grandeur of the place.

The history of this forest is interesting. It seems a lumber baron by the name of Anthony Cook became very rich in the late 1800’s, by stripping most of the area of trees and floating the logs down to Pittsburgh. However, he never touched the old growth in the center of the property. In 1928, he became somewhat of a conservationist and deeded 7200 acres to PA which became the State Park. Fact: By 1920, two-thirds of the trees in Pennsylvania’s forests were gone as a result of the lumber industry.

I would recommend a trip to Cook Forest State Park to anyone. It might not be Muir Woods, but it’s one of the best old growth forests in the East and very accessible, by a short two mile hike. Looking straight up the trunk and seeing a 150 foot tall, 36 inch diameter pine tree swaying in the breeze, is a sight I won’t soon forget.

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