Giant Red Pines

On the final day of a recent trip to the Upper Peninsula, rain was in the forecast for much of the day. Not wanting to get our cameras too wet, I found a place just east of Roscommon that looked interesting to check out on the way back south. As we neared the Roscommon Red Pine Natural Area Preserve, the rains subsided and as long as you didn’t bump a tree, you stayed dry.

The 160 acre preserve is a National Natural Landmark which includes a 34-acre grove of virgin Red pine. There are also some sizeable White pines in the grove as well, the largest White pine that we measured was 44.8 inches in diameter. The grove once hosted a national champion Red pine which is said to have been about 15 feet in circumference, twice the size of the largest tree remaining today. The largest red pine that we measured near the trail was 29 inches in diameter or 7.5 feet in circumference. That is still a very large Red pine as most that we see or are harvested for timber today are only a fraction of the size. There are large Red pine trees that show the scars of past fires from 1798, 1888 or 1928. As fire has not been in the grove for almost 100 years, you will notice that Red maples and oaks beginning to come in as part of the natural succession towards a climax forest. In the openings where trees have fallen you will notice thick patches of young White pines which can germinate and grow slowly, waiting for sunlight to reach the forest floor. When the canopy opens and light is available, they grow fast, reaching for the light and out competing other trees.

As we entered the 34 acre grove area on the loop of the 1.4 mile trail, a sense of calm, peace and serenity were evident that I had never sensed in any natural area before. The closest was when I visited the Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary area near Copper Harbor, which also has never been cut. There was a feeling of awe and wonderment at the old, large trees standing out in the open lower reaches of the forest. These old growth and virgin forest have an open lower forest layer as the thick canopy limits the amount of sunlight that reaches the forest floor, restricting what grows there. Even in these restricted growing conditions, I noted over 30 species of trees and other plants growing there.

If you are traveling in the vicinity of Roscommon, this is definitely a worth while place to stop, walk and spend some time in awe of these giant beauties.

Bark of large Red pine
Old burn scar
White pine filling the gap

Category: Uncategorized | No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *