Old Growth in East Fork Willow Creek.
I have wanted to hike around this forest for years. You can see this area from the highway and can access it pretty easily from the East Fork Camp ground when its open. I happened to have some extra time last month and hiked up into the forest a little west of the camp ground from the 299.
This is one of the largest pacific yew trees I have ever seen. I find it impressive that it is living right off the highway turnout.
Vertical structure from below: old growth Douglas-fir and tanoak overstory with dense younger trees and brush in the canopy gaps.
Vertical structure from above: looking across the canyon (Willow Creek main stem) you can really see how the older Douglas-fir rise above the other trees creating the diversity of height common in an old growth forest.
Many of the trees have goose-pen cavities. Where are the bats?
Where amber is born.
Whoa… This accidental picture is sort of funny, because it reminds me of how steep some of the topography was in this area as well as how slippery the snow covered brush was. I was slipping and sliding all over out there!
Nothing like a big old tanoak!
I didnt have the best light, but at least you can get the sence of how tall the trees are.
This forest has it all. Douglas-fir, tanoak, madrone, golden chinquapin, and more. The understory has the same species where light allows, as well as the occasional pacific yew. Sword fern and huckleberry make up the bulk of the ground cover. Eventually I saw a huge tree that appeared to be the biggest in the area.
After tromping around for a bit, one tree caught my eye.
This tree is the grandmother tree for the East Fork.
A tree like this has incredible wildlife potential. The large limbs create nesting platforms and when they break off they can develop into cavities in the tree itself for cavity nesters like owls.
Fire scars show this trees age.
And the weigh-in… just over 6 feet in diameter.
I only has a few hours, and Id like to get in here someday and explore a little more thoroughly. The campground looks like a nice escape from a hot summer and even in this dry summer we are gearing up for, I bet the East Fork will keep water.
Chinquapin crowns are really cool!
This forest is (was) heavily influenced by fire in its development.