Monadnock Trails

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Monadnock Vegetation

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Tags: Monadnock Mountain, High Elevation Spruce Fir Forest, Monadnock Vegetation, Boreal Forest, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire Forests, Spruce Forest, Monadnock Trails, New Hampshire Hiking, flora, fauna, New Hampshire Vegetation, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire, Jaffrey, Mt Monadnock, NH, Monadnock

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Monadnock High Elevation Flagged Spruce Forest
Above: Monadnock High Elevation Flagged Spruce Forest

Monadnock High Elevation Spruce-Fir Forest

High Elevation Spruce-Fir Forest: is the forest vegetation community that is largely evergreen which covers most of the slopes of Mount Monadnock. This zone may be more aptly called the;
High Elevation Spruce Forest on Mount Monadnock because balsam fir is rare on Monadnock, and the forest is dominated by red spruce, accompanied by a smattering of heart-leaved paper birch, as well as, paper birch. Spruce trees are characterized by 1/2 inch pointed needles which are typically dark olive-green and often have a conical evergreen crown. Red spruce trees may have a pyramidal profile with the branches more spread out than the spire-like Balsam Fir Trees. The evergreen needles can rake the high elevation dense fog of moisture making for a dripping forest when the rain gauges are empty.  The shallow rooted spruce-fir trees can soak up the moisture. Spruce are well adapted to shallow soils over ledge and dry conditions.

Spruce trees dominate the vegetation which blankets the mountain from an elevation range from 2000 feet to 2900 feet. This elevation (2000 ft-2900 ft) I state may be lower than other publications; for example; Mallard 2008 (2300 ft-2900 ft), and is quite lower than the elevation range (2500-3000) stated in the generalized spruce-fir community description (Sperduto and Nichols 2004). If you hike the Mossy Brook Trail (2000 ft), Cascade Link (2000 ft), Cliff Walk at Hello Rock (2100 ft) are examples from three different sides of the mountain you will find a solid shady spruce forest dominating from there on up the mountain. The transition from the lower mixed spruce-hardwoods to spruce is abrupt, with the forest turning solidly spruce

A noticeable exception is that spruce does not dominate over more recent burns such as the White Dot and White Cross Trails after a fire in the 1950's now dominated by birch and hardwoods up to 2500 feet.

Below: Spruce Forest in a mossy spot on Mount Monadnock

Spruce Forest Monadnock

The Spruce-Fir forest vegetation community vary from areas of large trees to areas with a high density of smaller trees over a wide range of ground conditions. At the highest elevations and most exposed locations, the spruce trees may be flagged with growth only on one side due to the exposure of elements, such as wind and ice. In the deep shade of the spruce forest is often devoid of vegetation except mossy spots that comprise of green peat moss (Sphagnum girgensohnii) and patches of haircap mosses (Polytrichum spp.), reindeer lichen covered rocks (Cladonia rangiferina) and some spruce saplings. There may be patches of thick short second growth spruce interspersed in the shady spruce forest. The spruce also gives way to open ledges higher up. At the highest elevations of the spruce forest there are dense thickets of spruce interspersed with open ledges which is the Red Spruce Rocky Ridge vegetation community. Dominant saplings are red spruce, mountain ash, and heart-leaved paper birch.

The Spruce Fir Boreal Forest on Mount Monadnock and Appalachians of eastern U.S. have been compared and put in contrast with Canada's boreal forest of White Spruce, Black Spruce, Balsam Fir, with Jack Pine and Red Pine communities. Mount Monadnock's Red Spruce forests may also resemble Alaska's boreal forests of White spruce, black spruce, birch, and aspen that dominate taiga forests in Alaska. Spruce can even grow over permafrost in Alaska. The northern boreal forest covers a vast amount of area in Canada, Siberia and Alaska and occurs in high elevations in New Hampshire as well as the mountains of eastern the U. S. The boreal forest primarily evergreens is in sharp contrast to the mainly deciduous hardwood forests, mixed with pines, in the lower elevations and uplands of New Hampshire. Red Spruce (Picea rubens) is a species of spruce native to eastern North America, ranging from eastern Quebec to Nova Scotia, and from New England south in the Adirondack Mountains and Appalachians to western North Carolina. Much of the slopes of Monadnock are covered with a boreal forest of primarily Red Spruce mixed with some birch.

Below: Monadnock High Elevation Spruce Forest
on the trail-less north side of Monadnock

Spruce Forest Monadnock

Below: Spruce Forest at the Bear Pit on Mount Monadnock
near Marian Trail, Mossy Brook Trail junction

Spruce Forest, Bear Pit, Monadnock.jpg

The pages on the vegetation communities launched this spring has been revised and updated as of August 2011 to more accurately describe Mount Monadnock's unique vegetation.
Fred Pitcher has had 1325+ varied hikes of Mount Monadnock and has spent years researching Monadnock.  All images by Fred Pitcher
"Monadnock Guide", Henry I. Baldwin, ©1970, 1rst edition, published by SPNHF
researched online sources such as "Wikipedia", "Google Images"
"National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England", by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie, 1998 edition, 2005 printing
"A.M.C. Field Guide to the New England Alpine Summits", by Nancy G. Slack and Allison W. Bell, distributed by Globe Pequot Press ©1995
"The Description and Distribution of Natural Communities on Mount Monadnock, NH: Implication in the Face of Climate Change". MS thesis. Antioch University New England, Keene, NH. by David Mallard, 2008
"North Woods, An Inside Look at the Nature of Forests in the Northeast", by Peter J. Marchand, ©1987, distributed by Globe Pequot Press
"New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands/about forests and lands" website

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Monadnock Trails website: Author, Creator, and photos by Frederick Pitcher 2015
Use of the information on this site is the sole risk of the user.  The author is not responsible for the trails or anyone's ability to follow them.  In addition to the trails there are certain places in this website described that are off trail.  Anyone exploring Monadnock does so at their own risk.


Tags: Monadnock Mountain, High Elevation Spruce Fir Forest, Monadnock Vegetation, Boreal Forest, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire Forests, Spruce Forest, Monadnock Trails, New Hampshire Hiking, flora, fauna, New Hampshire Vegetation, Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire, Jaffrey, Mt Monadnock, NH, Monadnock

Jaffrey Weather Forecast, NH

The weather above is for the base of the mountain.