“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”
― William Blake
Susquehanna State Park in Havre de Grace, MD is home to two Maryland champion trees. In addition to waterfalls and wildflowers I am always on the hunt for large trees. I mean I planned a road trip and vacation solely to visit a large tree. So on this weekend camping trip we happened to set up the evening’s nylon shelter in a park with some big trees. We honestly didn’t realize it until we read the trail map.
While 15 miles of trails wind their way through the forested 2,753 acres, you need only to take one of them to see these two enormous trees.
Hop on the Deer Creek Trail and follow the green blazes. The well-worn trail will lead you to the trees.
228″ in circumference, 99′ spread, 94.5′ tall
Are you able to resist hugging a giant tree? Or reaching out to touch a special tree? I am not. Besides being able to walk right up to these trees and marvel in their magnificence, access to these tree also provides the opportunity to reflect on all of the American history they have been a part of.
It’s fascinating to see the size of this tree in comparison to all of the forest around it. It indicates, along with the Beech below, that these trees were solo specimens in a field at some point. This accounts also for the width of the trees. Competition in a forest situation forces trees to grow upwards towards sunlight resulting in narrow trees. Trees out in the open can grow wide without the competition for sunlight.
190″ circumference, 108.5′ wide, 97′ tall
A nice feature near these trees is the signage they have for the trees. While there is no other educational signage along the trail, these two trees are well interpreted. I especially appreciated the signage explaining why people should not carve into the tree bark. Beeches seem to be especially vulnerable to this with their smooth gray bark acting as canvas for so many tree maulers.
Both of these trees are in decline. The white oak has evidence of a lightning strike and the Beech appears to be struggling as well. But for now, they are here in their magnificence, continuing to provide ecological services and continuing to inspire and instill awe.
As you work way to or from these massive specimens, you will also find yourself traipsing through a large patch of Pawpaws (Asimina triloba). They were in bloom while we were there and the grove we were walking through went on for as far as the eye could see.
I never know just what I will encounter when venturing into a new park or forest or garden. The trick is to keep the eyes and the mind open, keep wandering and keep wondering.