|From Silvermine – Tiorati Loop Hike, Harriman State Park|
I took this hike today, a 9.4 mile loop, and posted the pictures on this Picasa album.
This is mostly a political blog, and while some variety is good, that last hike post ran on forever.
I’m really enjoying the different habitats. In general, the high country of Harriman S.P. is an “Oak-Hickory forest.” But, in different areas, different trees (or mix of trees dominate). The Red Oak is the most common tree overall. On the tops of the hills and ridges, Chestnut Oaks tend to dominate. The understory plants are: lowbush blueberry, Mountain Laurel (more on northern slopes), grasses, and sweetfern. Other trees, roughly in order of abundance: White Oak, Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Black Birch, Pignut Hickory (5 leaflets), Mockernut Hickory (7 leaflets), White Pine, Beech, Hop Hornbeam, Pitch Pine, Hemlock, etc. This is by no means comprehensive, but just the most abundant, readily identifiable trees that I’ve been able to pick out.
The most interesting aspect is observing how certain habitats favor certain mixes. In one northern slope of Goshen Mtn, the only trees I could see were Red Oaks, while Mtn. Laurel was 80% of the understory, with 20% blueberry. After not too much looking, I spotted some maples among all the Red Oaks.
In another area, I dubbed it the “North American Flag” habitat: Red Oaks, White Oaks, Blueberry bushes, and Sugar Maples (the Canadian flag).
Beech trees tend to grow in groves, at lower elevations, well-watered, but rocky (well-drained) soils; typically on northern slopes, but I’ve never seen Mtn. Laurel anywhere near Beech trees. They are only higher up, it seems, or perhaps it is a question of soil acidity, maybe one prefers acidic, the other alkali soils.
A bald eagle was over Lake Nawahunta and some Ravens near Silvermine Lake.