The primary purpose of this hike is to bring awareness to the problems associated with the American chestnut tree. The American chestnut played a key role in forests throughout Appalachia before being devastated by a blight fungus imported with Asian chestnut trees in the early twentieth century. We will be viewing both wild and cultivated American chestnuts as well as Chinese and some hybrid chestnuts. We will be stopping at several places to examine and talk about these trees. Pace will be slow. Hike includes one steep ascent on well groomed trail. This is a morning hike to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
A secondary purpose of this hike is to bring awareness to hikers of the outstanding environmental work being done at Mariton Wildlife Preserve and by The American Chestnut Foundation.
Detailed Description of Hike:
Meeting time is 10:00 AM at Mariton Wildlife Preserve parking area. From parking area we can view five young hybrid chestnuts recently planted as part of an Eagle Scout project. Before starting the actual hike we will visit the Nature Center and view a chestnut display created as part of the same Eagle Scout project.
The hiking part starts when we leave the Nature Center. We will view several American chestnuts in the wild, including some that were damaged during last October’s snow storm and see how they are rebounding. We will also pass some hybrid Chinese/American chestnuts planted in the 1960s by Anthony Guerrero, original owner of Mariton. Finally we will visit a small orchard on top of hill with American chestnut treated by radiation and planted in the 1960s. Some of these orchard trees are still alive, and are flowering although all trees have blight.
Requirements (for your safety):
1. I will be wearing over-the-ankle hiking boots. The trail is not particularly rocky and wet areas are not anticipated. Sections of the trail will be steep. Sneakers or low cut shoes are adequate for this hike.
2. The orchard area on the top of the hill has high grass with some briars. It is not recommended to make a close examination of the trees unless you wear long pants. I will plan to wear shorts.
3. Bring water, particularly if it is expected to be hot.
4. I anticipate being back to the parking area by noon or shortly after. You may want to leave some food in your vehicles.
5. I plan to stay a while after the hike to answer any questions.
Web sites concerned with Mariton and the American Chestnut Foundation:
Directions to Parking:
Hope to see you Saturday!