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Tradition Plateau NRCA — November 2006

By Dan Paquette

Now that the rainy season is here and we are somewhat confined to the western edge of the continent for our Native Plant hiking. Let me suggest that you try the Swamp, Big Tree, Wetland and Bus Trails in the Tradition Plateau NRCA. These four trails will allow you to make a nice 3 ½ mile loop in the Tradition Lake area. Because of space limitations, I will just describe the Swamp and Big Tree trails. For this hike, you should have Green Trails Map 204S and a compass as some of the intersections with utility right-of-ways at the West end of the area are not signed and it’s easy to get disoriented on a foggy day. Also, the boardwalks can be slippery, so one needs to be

From the parking lot, walk west in the open area and in fifty
yards or so, you should see the Swamp Trailhead leading into the forest on your right. Guarding the trailhead entrance on the left is Salix scouleri (Scouler’s Willow). As you make your way down the trail, note the various shrubs. November is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of branching patterns, twig textures, leaf scars and bud characteristics. The Winter Twigs book by Gilkey describes what the ideal specimen looks like, but you may find that you need to look at a large number of twigs in order to see what the authors describe.

On the trail you will see an abundance of Holodiscus discolor (Ocean Spray), Corylus cornuta, (Western Hazel), Acer circinatum and A. macrophyllum (Vine and Bigleaf Maple) and Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry). Less common, but scattered about are Rhamnus purshiana (Cascara) and Oemlaria cerasiformis (Indian Plum).

Even though this is called the “Swamp Trail”, it appears that the summer drought is very hard on some of the trees, particularly young Tsuga heterophyla. There is so much competition for water on this mixed forest floor, and skeletons are common. In the very wettest portion of this trail, you will find Alnus rubra (Red Alder), Salix lasiandra (Pacific Willow), Salix sitchensis (Sitka Willow) and Salix scouleri (Scouler’s Willow) and on Sambucus racemosa (Red elderberry) one can carefully look and perhaps discern the eight sides of the twigs.

As you leave the Swamp Trail, you will cross an open area and you’ll be on a path that connects you to the Big Tree Trail. Once on the trail, you’ll note the large numbers of fallen trees - - victims of a severe wind storm about three years ago. One of the root balls you will see is perhaps thirty feet high, and has lost some of its grandeur as rains erode this unusual addition to the canopy. Other attractions on this trail include the old growth including Picea sitchenis (Sitka Spruce), the attendant Plagiothecium undulatum (Wavy- leaved Cotton Moss) and Dryopteris expansa (Spiny Wood Fern). At the end of the Big Tree Trail, you can either head back the way you came, or head South to make your way to the Wetlands Trail.

Updated: July 3, 2016
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