From where you’re standing at the third stop, you may notice something interesting about the trees. Take a minute to look around.
Noticed anything unusual? The trees around you are all quite skinny, no more than a few inches in diameter. Spend some time exploring the surrounding trees and you’ll likely agree. Why might this be?
One possibility is past logging. The area now known as the Cathance River Nature Preserve was harvested by logging companies in the past, likely up until the late twentieth century. If this spot was harvested recently (e.g. the late 1990s), they would be much younger, and skinnier, than trees in places that were harvested longer ago in Maine.
Also, when an area is heavily harvested, the abundance of sunlight following the harvest spawns a dense crop of new saplings in the following decade. It then takes many more decades for the woods to ‘thin out’ as stronger trees overtop and shade out their neighbors.
There are certainly other possibilities that could lead to many skinny trees in an area. Do your own research after your visit to learn why trees may grow differently in different areas!
As you begin the descent to the river, keep an eye out for other areas with lots of skinny trees and ask yourself why they are so small!