Town Forest Tree Walk

Enjoy a .3 mile self-guided tour of the trees along Wilmington’s Town Forest Loop. As you walk this trail, numbered signs identify tree species described below.

The Town Forest Loop is near Lake Raponda’s Green Mountain Beach. From the trailhead above the parking lot, walk uphill a few yards to the Town Forest Loop sign. You can pick up a paper guide at the entrance to the loop or view the guide on your phone using the QR code that leads to this web page.

  1. Beech (Fagus grandifolia) grows up to 75 feet high with a trunk up to 4 feet in diameter. Younger trees have smooth steel-grey bark, while the bark of large trees can be almost black. Beech nuts are abundant about every three years, and they are a favorite of bears. Particularly abundant trees may show claw marks. When cold weather arrives and other trees shed their leaves, beeches tenaciously hold their bronze leaves, sometimes through the winter. Beech bark disease results in rough cankers on the smooth bark. It is caused by a combination of an insect (the beech scale) and a fungus.
  2. Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) is the iconic tree of New England painters and is the state tree of New Hampshire. It is called a pioneer tree because it is light-tolerant, so it grows readily in cutover land.  It is a fast-growning but short-lived tree. It grows up to 75 feet high with a straight trunk of up to 3 feet in diameter. In the fall its bright yellow leaves light up the forest. Its wood is light and very close-grained. Its bark is a lustrous white and can be peeled into layers. It is also known as the canoe birch because Native Americans built strong and light canoes from its bark. Please peel its papery bark only from fallen trees.
  3. Yellow Birch (Betula lutea) grows up to 80 feet high and 4 feet in diameter. Its bark is silvery yellow-gray and curled at the edges.  Its wood is strong and close-grained.
  4. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is Vermont’s state tree. It is a stately tree that grows up to 100 feet high and up to 4 feet in diameter. Its bark is pale brown, becoming gray and smooth on the branches. In the spring, sugar maples are tapped to collect their sap for maple syrup and in the fall their foliage dominates Vermont hillsides with leaves of red, yellow, and orange.
  5. Striped Maple or Moose Maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) grove: A small tree or large shrub with smooth greenish bark marked by pale stripes. Its leaves are the largest of the maples, up to 7 inches long.
  6. Red spruce (Picea rubens) are shade-tolerant when young, but grows best where there is abundant light. Some of these are stunted and stressed because the taller deciduous trees have overshadowed them. Spruce needles have an orange rind aroma. Red spruce is a favorite of musical instrument builders, so it is incorporated into violin bellies and organ pipes.
  7. Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) has flat needles arranged in a flat spray, spirally arranged around the branch. It may grow to 80 feet
  8. White Ash (Fraxinus americana) has deeply furrowed bark with narrow flattened ridges. It grows up to 75 feet high  and up to 3 feet in diameter. Its wood has a strong straight grain and is prized for fuel, baseball bats, and hockey sticks. In the fall its leaves may turn bronze and mauve. Ash trees are threatened by an Asian beetle called the emerald ash borer.  Its larvae feed on the inner bark, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.
  9. Aspen (Populus tremuloides) have ovate leaves with flat stems. These enable the leaves to move with the slightest breeze, hence their nicknames quaking aspen and trembling poplar.
  10. Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) is a member of the beech family. Its bark is narrowly and longitudinally ribbed. It grows up to 30′ high and 12″ in diameter. It is also known as ironwood because its wood is harder than oak or ash. It doesn’t don’t grow abundantly enough to be commercially profitable, but in years past, it was harvested locally to make wooden levers and sleigh runners.
  11. Fir or Balsam (Abies balsamea) have flat leaves with gray on the underside. They may grow to 60 feet.
  12. White Birch (Betula populifolia) grows up to 30 feet high and usually has a leaning trunk. It is is similar to the paper birch, but its bark is chalky white and does not peel. Triangular black patches can be seen below the insertion of branches. It is a short-lived pioneer tree and is often the first to grow in an open area.

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