A short foot trail developed by
Clark State Forest
This resource trail was developed to give visitors a deeper understanding of the forest and how it can be managed. Forests can be managed for many different uses. These include wildlife habitat, timber, recreation, clear water, erosion control and protection of historic features. All these benefits can be obtained from the forest for many years to come if the forest is properly cared for.
Clark is the oldest state forest in Indiana. It was established in March 1903 by the state legislature and originally contained 2,000 acres. Today, Clark State Forest contains over 24,000 acres. This self-guided trail is 1.2 miles long with 18 marked stations on the map. The trail begins near the Oak Lake Shelter House.
The area along and adjacent to the trail is in a safety zone, which means no hunting of any kind is allowed in this area. Everything around the trail is protected so visitors can enjoy the area for years to come.
You can help protect this area by obeying the following rules:
- Remain on the trail.
- Protect all plants and animals.
- Do not litter on the trail.
- Please observe the ban on hunting.
- Please do not dig any plants in this area.
Special thanks to Boy Scout Troop 23 from Scottsburg, Indiana for making the construction of this trail possible.
Trees and Sites on the Identification Trail
- Board Foot. When forester measure trees, they determine the number of board feet in a tree. A board foot is a piece of wood 12"long, 12" wide and 1" thick. This piece of wood is a board foot. The white oak tree behind this station contains about 155 board feet.
- Timber Marking. Logging is the best tool foresters have to manage forests. When a forester marks trees to be logged, the goal is to help the trees that remain provide quality wood products and good wildlife habitat. Unhealthy trees, and crooked trees that will not make valuable lumber, are usually the ones removed. This area is an example of how an area might be marked for logging. Tree 2 and 4 might be harvested to give trees 1, 3, and 5 more room to grow,. This area will not be logged; it's just an example of how an area might be marked.
- Tree Identification.
Tree #1 is a pignut hickory. Pignut hickory has tight bark that may curl away form the tree. It does not make valuable lumber, but it is used to make tool handles. The leaf is made up of 5-7 smaller leaves called leaflets. This type of leaf is called a compound leaf. The nuts of pignut hickory are relished by squirrels.
Tree #2 is a white oak, one of the most valuable trees in the forest for lumber and veneer. It is also a valuable source of acorns for wildlife food. The edges of white oak leaves are deeply cut into lobes. The bark of white oak is light grey.
Tree #3 is a sugar maple. It is common in the undergrowth of the forest because it is shade tolerant, which means it can grow without a lot of sunlight. Sugar maple is a valuable tree for lumber and for the sap used to make maple syrup.
- Dead Trees. Look for dead or dying trees as you walk along the trail. When a tree dies, it becomes a home for insects, which are food for woodpeckers and other birds. Woodpeckers make holes in the dead tree for their nests. Other animals, such as squirrels and raccoons, live in the dens in dead trees. If there is enough sunlight, small trees will grow under the dead tree. Many years form now, some of these small trees will grow tall enough to take over the area where the dead tree is now.
- Firewood. Firewood is usually bought by the rick. A rick measures 4' high, 8' long, and around 16" wide. This stack of firewood is a typical rick. Areas of the forest that have been harvested are opened to the public to cut firewood for personal use. A firewood cutting permit is required, and can be purchased at the forest office.
- Wildlife Management. This pond was built to give animals a place to drink. Creeks hold water during most of the year, but during dry periods they may dry up. Ponds give animals a place to drink all year round. This pond is also a home for frogs, turtles and snakes. If you walk around the pond, you may see frogs jumping into it. The grassy area around the pond was planted to prevent soil erosion, and to give deer, turkey and other animals a place to feed. To the left of the wildlife pond is a wildlife food plot. This area is planted with sorghum and buckwheat to provide feeding area for different kinds of birds and animals. Beyond the food plot is an area grown up with small trees. This area is not managed, but still provides wildlife with food and cover.
- White Pine Plantation. These trees, planted in the early 1900s, show how natural competition for sunlight, water and nutrients affects their growth. The tree behind the station marker is 27" in diameter at chest height and contains over 900 board feet.
- Tree Identification.
Tree #1 is a black oak and is an important tree in the forest. It provides valuable lumber as well as acorns for food for wildlife. The edges of black oak leaves are pointed, and the bark is a dark grey to almost black.
Tree#2 is a tulip tree and is one of the fastest growing trees on Clark State Forest. The leaves of the tulip tree are similar to leaves of the tulip flower. the bark is light grey with white grooves. Lumber form the tulip tree is very valuable, and has many uses.
Tree#3 is a scarlet oak. It looks very similar to black oak, but is usually has white or light grey streaks of bark. The edges of the leaves are pointed, but are cut into deeper lobes than black oak. Scarlet oak is not a valuable lumber species.
- Historic Features. Behind this station marker are the remnants of the foundations for pits used to store sphagnum moss for the first state tree nursery that was in operation here in the late 1950s. This nursery burned down, and was moved to its present location at Vallonia.
- Wildlife Area. This area is beneficial to several kinds of birds and animals. The black walnut trees provide food for squirrels and chipmunks. Virginia creeper and grapevines growing on the trees give girds a place to build their nests. Weeds and briars underneath the trees provide shelter and food for many different birds. The rotten logs on the ground provide a home for insects, salamanders, toads and snakes.
- Tree Identification
Tree #1 is a black cherry. This tree has oval-shaped leaves and the older trees have dark, scaly bark. The fruit is a small cherry about 1/2" in diameter, and is eaten by some animals and many species of birds. Black cherry grows fast and makes valuable lumber.
Tree #2 is a black walnut. Black walnut has a leaf made up of many smaller leaves called leaflets. The bark of black walnut is dark grey to almost black. It makes very valuable lumber and veneer. Its walnuts are eaten by several different birds and animals. Black walnut grows fast, and grows well in a plantation if the soil is suitable.
- Black Walnut Plantation. These genetically superior trees from Purdue University were planted in 1979. They came from trees that have better genetics for straight trunks and quality lumber. This plantation is an example of how a black walnut plantation is properly maintained.
- Nursery Equipment. This equipment was some of the original equipment used at the nursery that was located here in the 1950s. It was used to prepare the ground and for planting seeds.
- Christmas Trees. The larger trees in this properly maintained area are scotch pine, which are very popular for Christmas trees; the smaller trees are white pine. Notice the recreation area on the other side of the Christmas trees. One of the purposes of state forests is to provide a mix of forest recreation opportunities with proper forest management.
- Tulip Tree Plantation. This plantation of tulip trees was planted in 1973 and was thinned in January 1996. Thinning the plantation involves removing crooked and damaged trees. The trees left are healthier and grow faster because the thinning gives them more room to grow. This plantation is being studied to determine how fast the trees are growing, and when they should be thinned again.
- Forest Inventory. A forest inventory involves taking sample plots in the forest and finding out what kind of trees are growing there, how big they are, and if they need to be managed. The station marker here is the center of a 1/5 acre plot. The diameter and height of all the trees marked with orange paint is measured to determine the number of board feet in this woods.
- Tree Quiz - Can you name that tree?
Tree #1 has bark that is almost black, and the edges of the leaves are pointed.
Tree #2 has light grey bark and the grooves in the bark are often white.
Tree #3 has tight bark that sometimes curls away form the tree.
Tree #4 has bark that is light grey and the edges of the leaves are deeply cut into lobes.
- Of these 4 trees, which 3 make the most valuable lumber?
- Of these 4 trees, which 3 are the most valuable to wildlife?
- Of these 4 trees, which grows the fastest?
- Pawpaw. This tree is a small tree that does not get much taller than 20'. It grows beneath the larger trees and only grows on rich, moist soil. Pawpaw is what foresters call a "good site indicator." That means if pawpaw trees are growing in an area, the soil there is good, and valuable trees will grow well on that site.