Tag Archives: trees

Conecuh National Forest

Conecuh National Forest

Alabama

Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Southern Region

171,177acres (83,852 federal/ 87,325 other)

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alabama

Overview

In southern Alabama, Conecuh National Forest was created in 1936 from clearcut and burned-over lands that were replanted with fast-growing slash pine.  Reforestation efforts today focus on native longleaf pine trees that provide habitat for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers.  The topography of these coastal plain forests is fairly flat with broad ridges flanked by bottomlands and floodplains.  Conecuh National Forest is primarily developed at two Recreation Areas: Open Pond and Blue Lake.

Highlights

Open Pond Recreation Area, Buck Pond, Blue Spring, Open Pond Fire Tower, Yellow River Basin, Blue Lake Recreation Area, Lake Shore Trail, Conecuh National Recreation Trail

Must-Do Activity

Open Pond Recreation Area (fee) surrounds a 30-acre natural sinkhole lake and has a campground, boat ramps, and a historic 1938 fire tower.  Located only a ten-minute drive away, Blue Lake Recreation Area (fee) offers a day-use picnic area and swimming beach (the only place in the National Forest where swimming is allowed, presumably due to the presence of alligators elsewhere).

Best Trail

The 20-mile long Conecuh Trail was built by the Youth Conservation Corps beginning in 1976 and traverses longleaf pine stands and hardwood bottomlands.  Leaving from Open Pond Recreation Area, the seven-mile long South Loop of the Conecuh Trail passes Blue Spring, but that portion of the trail was closed due to hurricane damage during our visit. 

Watchable Wildlife

Notable wildlife species that inhabit Conecuh National Forest include red-cockaded woodpeckers (see above), wild turkeys, fox squirrels, raccoons, red foxes, gray foxes, bobcats, coyotes, black bears, and alligators.  Fishing is a popular activity, with interesting spiky PVC pipe constructions put in the water to provide habitat for bream, bass, and crappie.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Watch for carnivorous pitcher plants growing in the wet soils on the edge of bogs and baldcypress ponds.

Peak Season

Spring and fall

Fees

There is a day use fee at both Open Pond and Blue Lake Recreation Areas, but an America the Beautiful pass can be substituted.

Road Conditions

Many of the roads in Conecuh National Forest are unpaved, but the sand packs down well and provides a good surface for any vehicle to drive.

Camping

Open Pond Campground contains 75 campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wilderness Areas

None

Related Sites

Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida-Mississippi)

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (Alabama)

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site (Alabama)

Nearest National Park

Great Smoky Mountains

Conifer Tree Species

baldcypress, longleaf pine, slash pine

Flowering Tree Species

American holly, flowering dogwood, southern magnolia, swamp tupelo, pumpkin ash, swamp cottonwood, overcup oak, swamp chestnut oak, cherryark oak

Explore More – Believed to be of Muskogee origin, what does the name “Conecuh” translate as?

Learn more about this and the 154 other National Forests in our new guidebook Out in the Woods

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Coeur d’Alene National Forest

Coeur d’Alene National Forest

Idaho

Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region

801,759 acres (725,797 federal/ 75,962 other)

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/ipnf/

Overview

Coeur d’Alene National Forest is located on both sides of Interstate 90, east of the city of Coeur d’Alene, which was the French name given to the indigenous people.  In 1973, it was joined with Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests to form Idaho Panhandle National Forests.  A good base for exploration, Wallace is a silver mining boomtown that refused to die despite its close call during the infamous Big Burn of 1910 (read more about it and the Pulaski Tunnel in Timothy Egan’s book).  On the Montana border, Lookout Pass Ski Area provides permits, equipment rentals, and shuttles for the famous Route of the Hiawatha bicycling trail (that is technically in St. Joe National Forest).

Highlights

Lake Hayden, Lookout Pass, Prichard Bridge, Stevens Lake, Willow Creek Falls, Steamboat Rock, Grassy Mountain Lookout, Lake Hayden, Settler’s Grove of Ancient Cedars, Pulaski Tunnel Trail

Must-Do Activity

North of Wallace, a good dirt road follows the West Fork of Eagle Creek to the Settler’s Grove of Ancient Cedars.  This 173-acre stand contains western redcedar trees up to seven feet in diameter, as well as large western hemlocks.  Fire has burned through the understory of this grove freeing nutrients for a lush growth of ferns and devil’s-club.  Look for a geocache near the sign that reads “end of Cedar Grove Trail” and points uphill to Trail No. 162, which continues another three miles.

Best Trail

The Idaho Centennial Trail follows the mountainous Idaho-Montana border on the eastern side of Coeur d’Alene National Forest, although it does dip west to cross Interstate 90 near the town of Mullan.  The old Mullan Road was cut through this rugged area in 1859-61; the terrain was so steep that workers had to construct 47 bridges to cover a distance of only 28 miles. 

Watchable Wildlife

Coeur d’Alene National Forest is home to mule deer, elk, moose, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions.  This close to Canada, it is also possible to find grizzly bears and gray wolves.  Common large birds include ospreys, golden eagles, bald eagles, wild turkeys, and ravens.  Although the National Forest does not encompass Lake Coeur d’Alene, it does contain many of the rivers and creeks that feed it, which provide incredible fishing opportunities.

Instagram-worthy Photo

There are some impressive western redcedar trees growing in the Settler’s Grove of Ancient Cedars.

Peak Season

Summer

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Even the paved roads we drove north of Wallace were slow going—very steep with hairpin switchbacks.  Once we got on the unpaved road following the West Fork of Eagle Creek, it was wide and flat.  We drove through Coeur d’Alene National Forest to access Bullion Pass on a four-wheel-drive-only road up a steep three-mile-long grade about a mile west (on a paved frontage road) from the Dena Mosa-Lookout Pass Rest Area on eastbound Interstate 90.

Camping

There are campgrounds located throughout the National Forest, including Mokins Bay Campground on Hayden Lake and Bell Bay Campground on Lake Coeur d’Alene.  We found a good dispersed campsite along the West Fork of Eagle Creek on the road to the Settler’s Grove of Ancient Cedars.

Wilderness Areas

None

Related Sites

Challis National Forest (Idaho)

Clearwater National Forest (Idaho)

Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho-Oregon-Montana)

Nearest National Park

Glacier

Conifer Tree Species

western redcedar, Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine, western white pine, Douglas-fir, western hemlock, grand fir, subalpine fir, Pacific yew, western larch

Flowering Tree Species

quaking aspen, Pacific dogwood, red alder, balsam poplar, dwarf birch, paper birch, Piper’s hawthorn, boxelder, Bebb willow, western mountain-ash, choke cherry, western serviceberry, red alder, mountain alder

Explore More – How did the Coeur d’Alene tribe get its French name?

Learn more about this and the 154 other National Forests in our new guidebook Out in the Woods

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Flowering Tree Descriptions

In each one of our National Forest blog posts we have included a list of conifer tree and flowering tree species common to that forest.  Now, we thought it would be a good idea to include some brief descriptions of each of those species, after previously posting on conifers.  The term “flowering trees” refers to all Angiosperms with seeds enclosed within a carpel, as opposed to conifers/Gymnosperms (“naked seeds”).  They are sometimes called broadleaf or deciduous trees, although they include well-known evergreens like hollies, live oaks, madrones, and southern magnolia.  Our list is not broken down by Family (i.e. Fagaceae, Juglandaceae, etc.), but simply alphabetically by scientific name (Latin binomial composed of Genus and specific epithet).  We hope our descriptions inspire you to further research some species of interest.

Acer circinatum
vine maple
This twisting, often multi-stemmed shrub can reach 25 feet in height in its streamside habitat.  Its leaves are relatively rounded for a maple, turning from bright green to orange or red in the autumn.
Acer glabrum
Rocky Mountain maple
This is the northernmost maple species found in North America, ranging from Arizona to southeast Alaska.  It is also called dwarf maple because it often grows as a shrub in wet soils and reaches a maximum height of 30 feet.
Acer grandidentatum
bigtooth maple
Its scientific name refers to the deep lobes of the leaves tipped with blunt teeth, which turn red or yellow in the autumn.  Closely related to the sugar maple of the east, its sap can be used to make maple sugar.
Acer macrophyllum
bigleaf maple
This shade toleranttree is aptly named since it has the largest leaves of any maple species, often reaching over a foot in width.  Although rarely exceeding 70 feet in height, the wood of this wetland tree is commonly used for furniture, veneer, and handles.
Acer negundo
boxelder
Unlike other maples that it is related to, boxelder has compound leaves in groups of three, making its root sprouts easy to mistake for poison-ivy.  Both species grow in riparian environments, but boxelder can reach 60 feet in height.  It is found from the Rocky Mountains all the way to Florida.
Acer rubrum
red maple
Found from Florida to Maine and sea level to 6,000 feet in elevation, red maple may have North America’s most spectacular display of fall foliage with yellow, orange, and red shades often found on the same tree. 
Acer saccharinum
silver maple
Found from floodplains to mountain coves, silver maple is a shallow-rooted, medium-sized tree with the largest samaras of any eastern maple.
Acer saccharum
sugar maple
Sugar maple is the primary species whose sap is tapped in the spring to make maple syrup.  This large tree of the northeast U.S. can reach seven feet in diameter and its wood is prized for furniture, flooring, and veneer.
Aesculus californica
California buckeye
California buckeye is a small, thicket-forming tree identified by its palmately compound leaves and three-inch capsule fruit containing poisonous seeds.  In the dry foothills of the Coast Range and Sierra Nevada, its large leaves often turn brown by mid-summer.
Aesculus flava
yellow buckeye
One of only a few large American trees with palmately compound leaves, this water-loving species can reach three feet in diameter and more than 100 feet in height.  Indigenous people were able to eat the large, toxic nuts by roasting and soaking them.
Alnus incana
gray alder
Also called mountain or thinleaf alder, this riparian shrub is found from Alaska to New Mexico.  Like other alders, it has nodules on its roots that help bacteria fix nitrogen from the atmosphere improving overall soil quality.
Alnus rhombifolia
white alder
A riparian species often found in the dry chaparral and foothill woodlands throughout California and western Idaho from near sea level up to 8,000 feet in elevation.  Also called Sierra alder, this straight-trunked tree can reach 80 feet in height.  Its small fruit look similar to miniature pine cones. 
Alnus rubra
red alder
Typically a riparian species, the fast-growing red alder is the most commercially important hardwood tree in the western U.S.  An early successional species throughout the Pacific Coast, it often forms pure stands following wildfires or clearcut logging.
Amelanchier alnifolia
Saskatoon serviceberry
Also known as saskatoon, juneberry, or shadbush, this small tree has smooth, gray bark and rounded leaves.  It is typically found in moist soils where it grows an apple-like pome that is edible to humans and wildlife.
Amelanchier utahensis
Utah serviceberry
Also known as Utah juneberry, this small, shade tolerant tree produces an apple-like pome that is edible to humans and wildlife.  Its straight branches were traditionally used to mark arrow shafts.
Arbutus menziesii
Pacific madrone
Easily identified by its shiny red bark, the evergreen Pacific madrone tree can reach 100 feet in height and more than four feet in diameter.  Found from sea level up to 5,900 feet, its wood is used for a wide variety of products.
Arbutus xalapensis
Texas madrone
The smooth, red bark of Texas madrone makes it easily identifiable, though it rarely reaches more than 20 feet in height.  Like its relative the manzanita bush, it produces bright red clusters of berrylike fruit that are eaten by many bird species.
Arctostaphylos patula
greenleaf manzanita
There are numerous species of this red-barked shrub found throughout the western U.S. in chaparral and dry woodlands.  Manzanita means “little apple” in Spanish and many varieties produce mealy fruit eaten by wildlife and used by some American Indians to make cider.
Artemisia tridentata
big sagebrush
A widely distributed shrub of the Great Basin Desert and dry foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this aromatic species is an important food source for mule deer, pronghorns, and a variety of birds, including sage grouse.
Betula alleghaniensis
yellow birch
The shiny bronze or silver bark with small peeling papery strips differentiates yellow birch from its lighter barked relatives.  Found throughout the northeast and Appalachian Mountains, this valuable timber commercial tree species can reach two feet in diameter and 110 feet in height.
Betula occidentalis
water birch
Water birch is a riparian tree found throughout the Rocky Mountains from Alaska south to New Mexico with an elevation range of 330 to 9,840 feet.  It can hybridize with paper birch, but is known for its darker bronze bark.
Betula papyrifera
paper birch
Transcontinental in its distribution, paper birch is easily identifiable by its white bark that comes off in papery strips.  Birchbark canoes were made by sewing together these strips and caulking the seams with pine resin.
Betula pumila
bog birch
Also called bog birch, this deciduous shrub generally grows in wetlands and stays under 12 feet in height.  As with other birches, it has dentate leaves, catkins, and large lenticels on its bark.
Carya cordiformis
bitternut hickory
Bitternut hickory grows from Texas into Quebec, farther north than any other North American hickory.  It is the shortest-lived of those hickories, but does reproduce from stump and root sprouts.
Carya glabra
pignut hickory
One of many species of hickory found in the eastern U.S., pignut (or red) hickory is a medium-sized tree typically only growing to 60 feet tall and two feet in diameter.
Carya illinoinensis
Pecan
One of North America’s most valuable native trees in cultivation, this bottomland species produces large, edible nuts.  Related to hickories, pecan can reach 130 feet tall and more than four feet in diameter.
Carya ovata
shagbark hickory
Shagbark gets its descriptive name from the curved strips of gray bark loosely attached to its trunk.  Historically, hickory trees were utilized for their edible nuts, dense wood good for tool handles, and yellow dye produced from nut husks.
Carya tomentosa
mockernut hickory
Mockernut hickory is the most common hickory of the sandy coastal plains that are usually dominated by pine forests.  It is a slow growing tree, but can survive for 500 years.
Cercocarpus ledifolius
curl-leaf mountain-mahogany
This small tree can reach 30 feet in height, but is typically a shrub common throughout the Great Basin where its evergreen leaves provide year-round browse for mule deer.  It is not a true mahogany, but its dark heartwood may have led to the misnomer as it was used by the Navajo to make red dye.
Chrysolepis chrysophylla
giant chinquapin
Also called goldenleaf chestnut, this evergreen hardwood can grow as a shrub or a straight-trunked tree that reaches 80 feet in height.  While not a true chestnut, it grows similar spiny fruit with edible nuts.
Cornus florida
flowering dogwood
This small, understory tree can grow in a variety of soil types across the eastern U.S.  Its flowers are flanked by four large, white brachts that form in early spring, making it a popular ornamental tree.  Its dense wood was historically used to make weaving-shuttles.
Cornus nuttallii
Pacific dogwood
The four petal-like, white bracts that surround the center flowers of Pacific dogwoods make them a popular ornamental tree, especially since they frequently bloom twice a year.  An understory species that prefers moist soils, they rarely reach more than 50 feet in height or one foot in diameter.
Cornus sericea
red-osier dogwood
Also called kinnikinnik, red-osier dogwood is transcontinental in its range, but rarely reaches more than ten feet in height.  Its red stems are similar to those of some willows (known as osiers) that are used to make baskets.  The shrub is planted ornamentally and for streambank erosion control.
Corylus cornuta
beaked hazel
Beaked hazel grows across North America as a smooth-barked, multi-stemmed shrub that rarely reaches more than 30 feet in height.  Its fruit has a brown husk with distinctive fibrous “beaks.”   The edible nuts are important for wildlife, but are not the commercially grown European hazelnut or filbert.
Crataegus chrysocarpa
Piper’s hawthorn
First identified along the Columbia River, this multi-stemmed shrub (also called red hawthorn) is a western relative of fireberry hawthorn.  Its purplish-red fruits mature in late summer in its streamside habitat.
Crataegus douglasii
black hawthorn
A small tree that can reach 30 feet in height, black hawthorn can grow as far north as southeast Alaska.  Typically a riparian species, its glossy leaves provide browse for ungulates and its shiny, black berries food for several species of birds.  Its half-inch white flowers make it a common ornamental.
Diospyros virginiana
common persimmon
A medium-sized tree of the southeast U.S., common persimmon produces an astringent, pulpy fruit eaten by opossums, raccoons, skunks, white-tailed deer, and a variety of birds, as well as humans (especially baked in cakes).
Fagus grandifolia
American beech
The papery thin, deciduous leaves of American beech allow it to grow in shady conditions throughout the eastern U.S. where it can reach more than three feet in diameter.  It is known for its smooth, gray bark and edible beechnuts, which are an important food source for wildlife.
Fraxinus americana
white ash
This upland ash tree is identifiable by its seven to nine leaflets per leaf and terminal bud that resembled a horned Viking helmet.  Its wood is valuable for making baseball bats, cabinets, and furniture.
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
green ash
This riparian species is widespread from the Great Plains to Nova Scotia, plus it is often planted for shelterbelts and mine reclamation.  All native ash trees are being impacted by invasive emerald ash borers, an insect species which has already killed more than 100-million trees in North America.
Gleditsia triacanthos
honeylocust
Native to the central U.S., honeylocust is now naturalized to the east coast and planted ornamentally nationwide as a fast-growing shade tree or hedge shrub.  This medium-sized tree is notable for its 18-inch-long legume pods and large thorns that often grow in clusters.
Gymnocladus dioicus
Kentucky coffeetree
This tree is planted as an ornamental, even though it sheds its leaves early and is uncommon in its native bottomland hardwood forests.  It is easily identifiable by its thick, brown legumes that reach up to seven inches in length.  The raw seeds and the pulp between them are poisonous, but roasted seeds were historically used as a coffee substitute.
Hesperocyparis sargentii
Sargent cypress
Sargent cypress and the shorter McNab cypress grow on outcrops of serpentine rock where they can tolerate the high magnesium levels in the soil that are toxic to other plants.  Both species can be found along Frenzel Creek near Little Stoney Campground in Mendocino National Forest.
Ilex opaca
American holly
Widespread throughout the southeast U.S., this shade tolerant tree is easily recognized by its spiny-pointed evergreen leaves and bright red fruit, which is eaten by birds and mammals.
Ilex vomitoria
yaupon holly
Alternatively called Christmas-berry, this evergreen shrub produces shiny red berries that make it a prized ornamental.  Its interesting scientific name comes from the fact that American Indians brewed the leaves into a tea to serve as an emetic and laxative.
Juglans major
Arizona walnut
This riparian species can be found in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness of Kaibab National Forest.  The tree’s range continues south into Mexico where the small walnuts (or “nogales”) are collected.  It can reach 50 feet in height and two feet in diameter, often growing burls at its base that are cut to make beautiful tabletops.
Juglans nigra
black walnut
This large deciduous tree has a distinctive smell that comes from allelopathic chemical compounds that prevent certain plants from growing beneath them.  Not the same species that is commercially grown for edible walnuts, nevertheless its wood is valuable for furniture and veneer.
Liquidambar styraciflua
sweetgum
This fast-growing tree is widespread throughout the southeastern U.S. and also planted as an ornamental (especially in California).  Sweetgum is easily identified by its five-pointed leaves and spiky capsule fruit.
Liriodendron tulipifera
tulip-poplar
Also called yellow-poplar or tuliptree because of its showy green and orange flowers that grow in the spring just after the leaves unfold, this long-lived tree can reach 175 feet in height and eleven feet in diameter.  It is a valuable timber species due to the fast growth of its straight, self-pruning trunks, especially those that arise from stump sprouts.
Lyonia ferruginea
palo colorado
This same species grows as a shrub called “titi” in swamps of the southeastern U.S., but in Puerto Rican tropical rainforests it can reach up to 50 feet in height.  The hollow trunks of these red-barked trees were historically used for nesting by Puerto Rican parrots, an endangered species once down to only 13 wild individuals.
Maclura pomifera
Osage-orange
There is only one species in this Genus with a very limited range in eastern Texas and Oklahoma, although it has been widely planted throughout the Great Plains for windbreaks.  Female trees produce heavy, round, green fruits about five inches in diameter that are eaten by livestock, giving it the common name of horse-apple.  American Indians used the spiny branches to make archery bows, which is why it also known as bodark.
Magnolia grandiflora
southern magnolia
A commonly planted ornamental tree worldwide, southern magnolia is native to the Coastal Plain of the southeast U.S.  It is notable for its thick evergreen leaves and 6-inch showy white flowers (featured on the Mississippi state flag).
Magnolia macrophylla
bigleaf magnolia
Living up to its alternate common name of umbrella-tree, bigleaf magnolia has the largest leaves (up to 30 inches long) of any native North American tree.  This understory species grows to about 40 feet in height and is only found in moist soils.
Malus fusca
Oregon crab apple
A small tree reaching only 30 feet in height, Oregon crab apple produces an oblong-shaped pome eaten by wildlife.  Its fruit is used by humans to make jellies and its wood for tool handles. 
Notholithocarpus densiflorus
tanoak
The bark of tanoak was historically used in the leather tanning industry.  Although it is not a true oak tree, it does produce acorns and grows pubescent, evergreen leaves.  Often found growing near coast redwoods, it reproduces extensively by coppice sprouting, especially after fires. 
Nyssa aquatica
water tupelo
Primarily found growing in swamps and margins of ponds, water tupelo can reach 100 feet in height and up to eight feet in diameter.  Its heavy seeds are distributed by birds, rodents, and water (that can often reach six feet deep in the winter).
Nyssa biflora
swamp tupelo
Swamp tupelo and the related water tupelo tolerate long periods of flooding, which is why their Genus is named for mythical Greek water nymphs.  All tupelo species are deciduous and important bee trees.
Nyssa sylvatica
black tupelo
Unlike the related water and swamp tupelos, black tupelo (or blackgum) does not tolerate long periods of flooding.  This deciduous tree can reach more than 100 feet in height and three feet in diameter.
Ostrya virginiana
eastern hophornbeam
The alternate common names of musclewood and ironwood give some idea of the density of this slow-growing, understory tree that was historically used for tool handles and fenceposts.
Oxydendrum arboreum
sourwood
An understory tree that prefers moist soils, sourwood can be identified by its finely-tooted seven-inch leaves that taste like sour candy and turn red in autumn.  The honey from bee hives located near sourwood trees is prized. 
Parkinsonia florida
blue paloverde
Paloverde is Spanish for “green stick,” which is what allows this small tree to photosynthesize even when it does not have leaves, which is most of the year.  The ranges of blue and yellow paloverde trees overlap throughout the Sonoran Desert, with the blue paloverde more common along drainages where it grows large yellow flowers that mature into legumes eaten by wildlife and, historically, indigenous people.
Philadelphus lewisii
syringa
This deciduous shrub was first collected by Meriwether Lewis in 1806 and another common name is Lewis’ mock-orange.  Syringa’s white blooms are the state flower of Idaho.
Platanus occidentalis
sycamore
The thin, mottled bark makes sycamore easy to identify in its riparian habitat in the eastern U.S., as does its one-inch spherical fruit composed of elongated achenes.  It is also called American planetree to distinguish it from the ornamentally-planted London planetree.
Platanus wrightii
Arizona sycamore
The beautiful white bark and spreading canopy of Arizona sycamore trees can be found in riparian areas like Oak Creek Canyon.  You can see Arizona sycamores (as well as the remains of a historic lodge and orchard) on the West Fork Trail, a place immortalized in Zane Grey’s novel The Call of the Canyon
Populus angustifolia
narrowleaf cottonwood
Named for its lance-shaped, finely toothed leaves, narrowleaf cottonwood is a riparian species like its relatives.  However, unlike other cottonwoods, it rarely grows more than 50 feet tall.
Populus balsamifera
balsam poplar
This deciduous species is primarily found in the boreal forest, where it grows farther north than any other tree in North America.  It is found in patches throughout Wyoming, where its root sprouts provide browse for moose, deer, and elk, just as they do throughout Canada.
Populus deltoides
eastern cottonwood
The plains cottonwood of Nebraska is sometimes described as a separate species or a subspecies of eastern cottonwood.  Both are known for their triangular leaves and growth along waterways where they can reach diameters in excess of ten feet, though the big trees often suffer heart rot in their center.
Populus fremontii
Fremont cottonwood
Named for explorer John C. Fremont, this riparian species is commonly found throughout California east to the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.  An indicator of permanent subsurface water, trees can reach more than four feet in diameter, though they are often afflicted with heart rot and parasitic mistletoe.  Their roots are the wood traditionally used by the Hopi to carve kachinas.
Populus grandidentata
bigtooth aspen
This medium-sized tree of the northeast U.S. can be found growing alongside the related quaking aspen, but is distinguished by its larger leaves with coarse, curved teeth.  Both species are root-sprouting pioneers browsed by wildlife.
Populus tremuloides
quaking aspen
Transcontinental in distribution, quaking aspen is named for the way the leaves flutter in the slightest breeze as they dangle on very long, flattened stems.  Aspen trees are beautiful in the autumn when their leaves turn golden yellow, or, occasionally, shades of red and orange.
Prosopis velutina
velvet mesquite
Like honey mesquite that grows across Texas, this Arizona species is utilized by bees to produce a fragrant honey.  Its large taproot allows it to survive in the Sonoran Desert where other trees cannot, which made its eight-inch-long seedpods an important food source for indigenous people.
Prunus emarginata
bitter cherry
As its name suggests, humans do not eat the fruit of this shrub, though many songbirds and mammals do.  It is found in a variety of habitats along the Pacific Coast, as well as northeastern Oregon and northern Idaho.
Prunus serotina
black cherry
Widespread in the eastern half of the United States, and found as far west as Arizona, this species famous for its veneer and furniture wood may grow best on the Allegheny Plateau.
Prunus virginiana
choke cherry
Distributed from California to Newfoundland, this shrub produces small, blackish cherries that are very astringent, but can be made into preserves.
Quercus alba
white oak
White oak is a dominant tree in mixed hardwood forests throughout the eastern U.S., reaching a maximum size of 150 feet tall and nine feet in diameter.  It is an important commercial lumber species, specifically used to make watertight casks for aging whiskey and wine.
Quercus arizonica
Arizona white oak
One of several oak species native to eastern Arizona (many of which hybridize), this evergreen oak can reach up to 65 feet in height in moist soils.  Its one-inch acorns are an important food source for wildlife.
Quercus falcata
southern red oak
A common upland oak species, this large tree can reach more than 100 feet tall and up to nine feet in diameter in mixed hardwood and pine stands.  Its leaves grow in a wide variety of shapes, but are notable for the fuzzy pubescence on the underside that dries to a rusty brown color.
Quercus gambelii
Gambel oak
Named for a nineteenth-century naturalist from Philadelphia, this oak tree is prevalent in the Southwest U.S. where it can reach 70 feet in height, but is more commonly a thicket-forming shrub.  The deciduous foliage is browsed by mule deer and its small acorns are an important food source for wild turkeys, quail, squirrels, and livestock.
Quercus garryana
Oregon white oak
Known for its spreading, round-topped crown, this medium-sized deciduous tree rarely reaches more than 50 to 70 feet tall in its dry, rocky habitat.
Quercus laevis
turkey oak
The only oak tree associated with longleaf pine stands on the sandy coastal plain, it rarely reaches more than 40 feet in height or one foot in diameter.  Its common name refers to its leaves’ tendency to grow like a three-toed turkey foot.
Quercus macrocarpa
bur oak
Wyoming represents the westernmost extent of this species, notable for its acorns that are conspicuously fringed along their cap giving it the alternate common name of mossycup oak.  This long-lived tree (up to 440 years) is more drought tolerant than other oaks, which is why it is has been successful growing on the prairies and Great Plains.
Quercus montana
rock chestnut oak
This represents the westernmost extent of this oak tree found on dry, rocky ridges throughout the Appalachian Mountains.  Its deciduous leaves have crenate margins, unlike the serrate and bristle-tipped leaves of American chestnut.
Quercus nigra
water oak
As its name suggests, water oak prefers to grow in bottomland forests where its oblong leaves make it easy to distinguish from the other oak species it grows beside throughout the southeastern U.S.
Quercus rubra
northern red oak
One of the most widespread and important commercial species in the eastern U.S., this tree can reach 140 feet in height and eight feet in diameter.
Quercus velutina
black oak
An eastern oak found from sea level to 5,000 feet in elevation, where it can tolerate poorer soils with its deep taproot.  It is somewhat fast growing for an oak tree, rarely surviving more than 200 years.
Quercus virginiana
live oak
The long, curved branches of live oak trees were once important to the shipbuilding industry, but now they are more appreciated for their picturesque beauty when draped with Spanish moss.  This short, evergreen oak is found growing in sandy soils from the coast of Virginia to Texas.
Quercus wislizeni
interior live oak
A prominent species in the dry foothills of the Sierra Nevada and inner Coast Ranges, this slow-growing, evergreen oak can reach seven feet in diameter.
Rhododendron maximum
great rhododendron
The largest rhododendron of North America, it is also called rosebay or great-laurel (not to be confused with mountain-laurel).  This evergreen shrub’s foliage and bark are poisonous, and be aware that smoke from its burning wood is also toxic to humans.
Rhododendron macrophyllum
Pacific rhododendron
An understory species of temperate rainforests and coast redwood forests, this evergreen shrub can form dense thickets up to 25 feet in height.  Its large, pink flower clusters bloom in spring.
Rhododendron periclymenoides
wild azalea
Rhododendrons with deciduous leaves are called azaleas, and this species blooms its pinkish flowers before its leaves start growing in the spring.
Robinia neomexicana
New Mexico locust
This spiny tree with showy clusters of pink pea flowers can reach 25 feet in height.  Like other members of the Legume Family, it grows pinnately compound leaves, pea pods up to four inches in length, and root nodules that assist bacteria in nitrogen fixation.
Robinia pseudoacacia
black locust
This spiny-limbed legume tree is native to the east-central U.S., but after being introduced to Germany in 1601 is now an invasive throughout Europe.  This fast-growing root-sprouter rarely reaches more than 60 feet in height, either forming a spreading thicket or a single, straight trunk.
Salix bebbiana
Bebb willow
Rarely reaching more than 25 feet in height, this multi-stemmed shrub is named for Michael Shuck Bebb, an American specialist in willows from the 1800s.  It is one of several willows that form “diamond willow” patterns caused by fungi that are commonly used for walking sticks and railings.
Salix interior
sandbar willow
Also called narrowleaf or coyote willow, this shrub is found from Alaska to the Great Lakes, and is a common riparian species in the Great Plains and Southwest where it can grow at elevations up to 8,000 feet.  This drought tolerant willow is commonly planted to prevent stream bank erosion.
Salix lucida
shining willow
This species grows along riverbanks throughout western North America, including the Pacific Northwest where abundant rainfall allows it to reach up to 60 feet in height and three feet in diameter.  Like most of the 30 species of tree-sized American willows, it has lance-shaped deciduous leaves and its young twigs are reddish in color.
Salix scouleriana
Scouler’s willow
Named for a Scottish naturalist of the 1800s, Scouler willow has a range extending from the Rocky Mountains all the way up to Alaska.  An important browse species for wildlife, it can grow up to 10,000 feet in elevation.
Sambucus canadensis
American elder
A large shrub of the eastern U.S., this root sprouter produces elderberries used to make jelly, pies, and wine.  The evergreen variety that grows in Florida blooms throughout the year.
Sambucus nigra
black elderberry
Planted ornamentally for its white flower clusters and edible bluish fruit, this shrub is found throughout western North America.  California Indians made flutes from cut twigs by removing the pith.
Sassafras albidum
sassafras
Sassafras is an understory tree distinguished by its deeply-lobed leaves that turn orange to red in the fall and are used as thickening agent in Creole food. 
Sorbus scopulina
Greene’s mountain-ash
This thicket-forming shrub is found throughout the Rocky Mountains and north into Alaska.  Its European relatives are called “rowan-trees” in reference to their clusters of bright red berries.
Umbellularia californica
California-laurel
The streaky wood of this shade tolerant evergreen tree is often marketed as Oregon-myrtle.  Found in the Coast Range and Sierra Nevada foothills, its foliage and twigs have a pungent camphor-like odor when crushed. 

Clearwater National Forest

Clearwater National Forest

Idaho

Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region

1,722,132 acres (1,679,952 federal/ 42,180 other)

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater

Overview

In central Idaho, Clearwater National Forest was established in 1908 and administratively combined with Nez Perce National Forest in 2012.  A great place to start is the Forest Service visitor center at Lolo Pass on the Idaho-Montana border southwest of Missoula, where you will learn about the Corps of Discovery’s visit in 1805.  Elsewhere, the North Fork of the Clearwater River ends in the Dworshak Reservoir where a separate section of the National Forest can be explored on the White Pine Scenic Byway and Elk River Backcountry Byway.  The latter accesses Giant Cedar Grove and Elk Creek Falls, which is three separate waterfalls totaling a 140-foot drop.

Highlights

White Pine Scenic Byway, Lolo Pass, Lolo Motorway, DeVoto Memorial Grove, Colgate Licks, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, Shoestring Falls, Elk Creek Falls, Giant Cedar Grove, Aquarius Natural Area, Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail, and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Down River Trail, Beason Meadows National Recreation Trail

Must-Do Activity

Most of the recreational activity in Clearwater National Forest occurs along the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (Highway 12), which runs west from the Lolo Pass visitor center along the Lochsa National Wild and Scenic River.  The legendary dirt road called the Lolo Motorway (see below) can be accessed from several points along this route.  Both the famous Jerry Johnson Hot Springs and the smaller Weir Creek Hot Springs are reachable from roadside trailheads.  Also along Highway 12, short trails lead through the DeVoto Memorial Grove of western redcedars and Colgate Licks mineral springs.

Best Trail

From parking areas on both sides of Highway 12, it is only about a one-mile easy walk to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs where multiple pools can be found creekside and uphill at the source.  The trail continues along Warm Springs Creek into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and beyond. 

Watchable Wildlife

The North Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa Rivers provide habitat for fish and water-loving animals like moose, raccoons, river otters, muskrats, beavers, fishers, ospreys, and bald eagles.  The mountains are home to elk, mule deer, mountain goats, black bears, martens, red foxes, gray wolves, and mountain lions.

Instagram-worthy Photo

A short trail leads through the DeVoto Memorial Grove of western redcedars, named for author Bernard DeVoto.

Peak Season

Summer

Fees

None

Road Conditions

The scenic 73-mile Lolo Motorway is a single-lane, dirt road that tracks both the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails.  Also labeled Forest Road 500, it follows a ridgeline north of the Lochsa River and several steep access roads climb to meet it from Highway 12.  High-clearance vehicles (or motorcycles) are a must and four-wheel drive is required on the rougher western end of the route.  Driving up Parachute Hill Forest Road 569 and down Saddle Camp Forest Road 107 makes for a good four-hour loop with short stops at the Indian Post Office and Devils Chair.

Camping

Although it is close to Highway 12, the pleasant Jerry Johnson Campground is one of several campgrounds found along the Lochsa National Wild and Scenic River and located only a short drive from the trailhead for the hot springs.

Wilderness Areas

Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (also in Bitterroot, Nez Perce, and Lolo National Forests)

Related Sites

Challis National Forest (Idaho)

Big Hole National Battlefield (Montana)

Nez Perce National Historical Park (Idaho-Oregon-Montana)

Nearest National Park

Glacier

Conifer Tree Species

western redcedar, western larch, grand fir, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, western white pine, ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, limber pine, whitebark pine, Pacific yew, Rocky Mountain juniper

Flowering Tree Species

quaking aspen, Pacific dogwood, red alder, balsam poplar, paper birch, Piper’s hawthorn

Explore More – What famous group built the 73-mile-long Lolo Motorway in the 1930s?

Learn more about Clearwater and the 154 other National Forests in our new guidebook Out in the Woods

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Chippewa National Forest

Chippewa National Forest

Minnesota

Managed by U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Region

1,599,664 acres (666,623 federal/ 933,041 other)

Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa

Overview

Following passage of the Morris Act in 1902, the Minnesota Forest Reserve was created from 200,000 acres of unallotted lands on Ojibwe Indian reservations.  It was renamed Chippewa National Forest in 1928 and 44% of its acreage remains part of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.  The forest includes 1,300 lakes and ponds, 925 miles of rivers, and 440,000 acres of wetlands, which represents 13% of all surface water within the entire National Forest system and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.  Three of the ten largest lakes in Minnesota are located here: Lake Winnibigoshish, Cass Lake, and Leech Lake.

Highlights

Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway, Avenue of Pines Scenic Byway, Lady Slipper Scenic Byway, Woodtick Auto Trail, Cass Lake, Camp Rabideau, Lake Winnibigoshish, Benjamin Lake, Norway Beach Recreation Area, Leech Lake, Lost 40 Natural Area, Heartland Bike Trail, Simpson Creek Trail, Cut Foot Sioux National Recreation Trail, Big Pine Forest Trail, Chippewa Adventure Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail

Must-Do Activity

Other than getting out on the water, a great way to explore Chippewa National Forest is by driving one of five designated Scenic Byways: Lake Country, Edge of the Wilderness, Avenue of Pines, Lady Slipper, and the Great River Road.  Chippewa National Forest has more than 3,000 archeological and historic sites, including Camp Rabideau, perhaps the best preserved Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp left from the 1930s.  Free guided tours of the camp are offered in summer, or you can take a self-guided tour around the well-signed buildings during daylight hours.

Best Trail

The Lost 40 is 144 acres of old-growth red and white pine forest that was never logged due to a surveying error that mapped the area as part of Coddington Lake in 1882.  The oldest tree here is more than 250 years old and can be seen on an easy one-mile loop trail with interpretive signs.  There is also an optional 0.2-mile one-way spur to an overlook of Moose Brook.  The trailhead is located east of Blackduck, Minnesota on well-signed back roads and is also popular for snowshoeing in the winter.

Watchable Wildlife

The most vocal and noticeable residents of Chippewa National Forest are its red squirrels, sandhill cranes, and common loons.  Its many rivers and lakes make ideal habitat for its 180 nesting pairs of bald eagles, one of the highest densities in the contiguous U.S.  Rarer wildlife sightings include Canadian lynx, black bears, moose, and trumpeter swans.  Important gamefish include lake trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge (muskie). 

Instagram-worthy Photo

The largest red pine in the Lost 40 is 120 feet tall and three feet in diameter.

Peak Season

Summer

Fees

None

Road Conditions

The scenic byways seem to all be paved, but the roads accessing the Lost 40 and Camp Rabideau are unpaved, although well-signed and maintained.

Camping

The National Forest contains 21 developed campgrounds and 68 official dispersed camping locations. 

Wilderness Areas

None

Related Sites

Grand Portage National Monument (Minnesota)

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (Minnesota)

Superior National Forest (Minnesota)

Nearest National Park

Voyageurs

Conifer Tree Species

northern white-cedar, tamarack, red pine, eastern white pine, jack pine, balsam fir, black spruce, white spruce

Flowering Tree Species

basswood, sugar maple, red maple, northern red oak, bur oak, basswood, American elm, slippery elm, bog birch, yellow birch, paper birch, bigtooth aspen, quaking aspen, balsam poplar

Explore More – The Lost 40 grows on an esker (or glacial ridge); how many years ago did the esker form?

Learn more about Chippewa and the 154 other National Forests in our new guidebook Out in the Woods

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.