Old Growth Hemlocks of Salt Springs State Park

Old growth hemlocks

Old growth hemlocks

There is something beautiful, if not magical, about an old growth hemlock forest.  The dark, furrowed trunks rise over 100 feet, holding a galaxy of mosses and lichens.  The massive trunks stand guard, living for over 300 years, but so susceptible to the saw or the tiniest insect.  The needles of these massive trees are so green, light, if not feathery, as they dance in the breeze.  Their size comes with the price of time- hemlocks grow very slowly.  And forests like these are rare, few remain, having fallen to man, or now being killed by the wooly adelgid.

After visiting Endless Brewing, we naturally had to visit nearby Salt Springs State Park.  This park is one of the gems of Northeast PA and has evolved into an outdoor recreation destination, attracting people from all over.  The parking lot revealed a car from Massachusetts.

Boardwalk above the gorge

Boardwalk above the gorge

We didn’t have much time, so we decided to walk up the waterfalls and return via the boardwalk above the gorge through the old growth forest.  People were relaxing in the cold water, trying to find relief from the heat.  We climbed alongside the falls, catching their spray.  The trail climbed from the creek and entered the forest.

Falls at Salt Springs

Falls at Salt Springs

This is truly one of the finest old growth hemlock forests in Northeast PA.  Some trees have been documented to be over 500 years old, and over 130 feet tall.  Large fallen trees cris-crossed the forest floor, harboring ferns and saplings.  Thanks to the frigid winters, the hemlocks at Salt Springs have been given a new lease on life since the wooly adelgid cannot survive very cold temperatures.

Temple of trees

Temple of trees

A distant thunderstorm grumbled with thunder as clouds spread from the horizon.  We hurried down the trail and returned to the car.  Salt Springs never grows old, even if its trees do.

More photos.

More info about the park.

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One thought on “Old Growth Hemlocks of Salt Springs State Park

  1. Interesting and well-written as always, Jeff. I have enjoyed the hemlocks in the Forest Dutlinger Natural Area, but they are not paired up with a stream and waterfalls like the ones at Salt Springs SP. I hope the Dutlinger area is similarly too cold for the woody adelgid to do it in. I have not been to SSSP, but your story and pictures make me look forward to visiting there.

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