January 2014, Nature


november hike, wachusett mountain (sonya kovacic)

november hike, wachusett mountain (sonya kovacic)

Wachusett Mountain, located 50 miles outside of Boston in Princeton Mass, is a popular ski resort. However, it is also the site of a very rare "old growth forest." A forest characterized by having trees over 150 years old with a complex ecology.

When colonists first arrived in Massachusetts, forests were plentiful. Soon after, trees were cut down for limber, and forests were cleared for agriculture. Now there are only 1,000 acres of old growth forests in Massachusetts and around 100 of them are found in Wachusett Mountain.

According to Watchusett Mountain, Mass Audobon Society, and Mass Dept of Environmental Management --the oldest known tree [in Wachusett] is a 369-year-old Yellow birch. It was alive in 1632 when Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop first identified Wachusett Mountain as, “...a very high hill, due west...”

Learn more about old-growth forests.

This past August, "The Sea of Trees," a new movie directed by Gus Van Sant (who also directed Good Will Hunting), and staring Matthew McConaughey, filmed scenes in Wachusett. Shallow Hal, the 2001 Jack Black movie, also filmed scenes in Wachusett.