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The mission of Great Mountain Forest is to be a leader in forest stewardship. We practice sustainable forest management, promote biodiversity and resilience to climate change, support education and research, and welcome all who love the woods.

Great Mountain Forest 

November 2022

In this issue:

Calling all Star-gazers

Learn Like an Intern

Spotlight Series

Calling all Star-gazers

For those who got up in the wee hours that first week of November to view the lunar eclipse, or who just always enjoy the night sky, GMF invites you to “register” for notification of some planned dark sky gatherings. We’ll meet at the GMF Mountain Office, which has a open view with minimal light pollution, and we’ll issue a deadline time to be there to avoid late-arrival car headlights. The advance warnings will likely be short, balancing moon phase, forecasted atmospheric clarity, and tolerable temperatures, but we plan to offer a guided tour of several constellations each time as well as the option to just go off and gaze in happy wonderment. All those interested in receiving the announcements, please email with your contact information. 

Learn Like an Intern

Foresters are sometimes asked to interpret old land deeds that may have a “chain” as a unit of measure, which equals 66 feet. If this sounds like an unusual length, 66 goes into a mile’s 5280 feet exactly 80 times; a GMF one-chain measuring band appears coiled in the photograph to the left. 

Even today, the chain can figure in a method of estimating the merchantable height, or the number of 16’ logs, that can come from a standing tree, so long as the tree can be viewed from one chain away. The edge of the hypsometer pictured below provides the instructions at that distance for holding the stick vertically at the individual’s elbow bend, which produces an “arm’s length” of 25” from the eye. If the bottom of the stick is lined up with where the stump would start, the first 16’ log will be where the “1” falls against the view of the tree, and the numbers on the edge of the scale stick increase from there. 

For another use of the chain, the historical width of a two-land road (road, shoulder and buffer) is 66 feet. With the further knowledge that a rod is one-quarter of a chain, you can now calculate the total width of 6 Rod Road in Falls Village. 

Spotlight on Camps Road

East Gate to Old Man McMullin Pond

The straightforward cruise from the GMF kiosk at 201 Windrow Road, Norfolk to the Leopold bench at the edge of Old Man McMullin Pond is unassuming, but the easy footing and gentle slopes of the Camp Road make for a head-clearing walk or run on the inbound 1.5 miles; a contemplative spell taking in the view of the pond prepares the mind for loftier thoughts; the return amble through the forest has been known to inspire problem-solving, friendship-deepening, and general renewal of spirit. Sometimes simple is a gift. Along the road, one can take in the changing forest types, contemplate at the rustic bench while taking in the view of the landscape to the north, get intrigued by geologic features, or wander and wonder.

Forest Notices

Welcome to the forest!

GMF is a place of peaceful co-existence for everyone

  • Keep your dog on a leash and if you pack it in--pack it out.

  • Sign in at kiosks at the East and West Gates.

  • Watch for inclement weather notices on social media and website.

Stand with the Trees!

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GMF is critical to the environmental and economic sustainability of the region as well as an important contributor to research and education about climate change and environmental health. Help us support the forest as a vital natural resource and a place for those who love the woods.

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