22 February, 2015

Winter Forest Walk at Beecher Park

Today was easily the warmest day of the past week... by a good 10-15 degrees. There was intermittent light rain all day, but the rain stopped while I led a dozen or so folks on a Trees Atlanta sanctioned winter forest walk at one of my favorite "hidden" greenspaces in Atlanta, the lovely Beecher Park. 

Beecher is in a lightly traveled section of SW Atlanta off Beecher St (and close to the more heavily traveled Cascade Rd). 

The above map gives an idea of the location and truly gives you a look at the vast expanses of greenspace that quietly exist in this part of Atlanta. The map below highlights the North-Northwest running creek and ravine of Beecher Park. 

The meeting spot for the walk was at the southernmost end. Here the park has a small manicured lawn, a few open grown planted trees and a picnic table. A short distance northward, however, the forest envelopes you as you venture on a hillside (subtle) single-track trail. 

We walked slowly and stopped often as I took time to dive into stats and personalities of just a few individual trees (and tree species). 

A tree I love visiting was also one of the treasures I shared with today's group- a 160' tall tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) that's rooted creek side in a very deep section of the ravine. 

With my niece for scale, you can get some sense of its size. The trunk is 13.5' circumference at breast height. The bark shows balding typical of older specimens. The photo below shows off the height of this beauty. 

The first limb is over 80' above the ground!  It's got a gnarly crown with just a few thick limbs and an open character (also typical of older trees)

The group ventured further down until the ravine flattened out and the creek meandered into a floodplain area. Just on the edge lives the tallest umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) ever measured in Georgia. At just over 77' it's a whopper. And still growing. 

Only a little over 2' circumference, but quite a tall tree. Full vertical shot below. 

The group paused for an obligatory photo shortly after admiring the champion magnolia. 

After that we parted ways, as I had already run out of time (lots of stopping and nerding out on trees = time flying and little distance covered). 

On the return, watched my niece explore the creek while I updated some measurements on superlative trees.

 This included the tallest pignut hickory (Carya glabra) in Atlanta (or could it be a red hickory??). It's a 145' rocketship of a tree. Mere feet from the grand tuliptree.  

I really love this forest and on my next visit I plan to spend the better part of a day measuring more trees and connecting to other greenspaces like Lionel Hampton nature preserve. This is a really special part of the city and I encourage others to seek out these spots to enjoy in their own. 

No comments: