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Harvard Forest French Road Trail

THE VIRTUAL TOUR


Come on a journey with us as we explore Harvard Forest through this tour of the French Road Trail.
Instructions: Click on the buttons below the map to navigate to a specific stop.
At each stop, the buttons below the descriptions give historical and scientific details.


NAVIGATION

Science and Nature Tour | Historical Tour



STOP 1


Then and Now
You are surrounded by historical and scientific sites of Harvard Forest and standing on the land that was once farmland in the late 18th century. Let's explore some of the buildings you see here.

1 Fisher Meteorological Station
2 Raup House
3 Fisher House
4 Stone Wall

STOP 2

Image of the area

Sugar Maples
Sugar maple trees were historically important for maple syrup production. Now, they are important for long-term research.

1 Sugar Maple Tree
2 Sugar House
3 Former Pool

STOP 3

Image of the area

Tree Diversity
The trees at Harvard Forest are typical of New England sites that have reforested after two centuries of colonial agriculture. Let's learn what species have come to dominate Harvard Forest.

1 Hardwood and Conifer Trees

STOP 4

Image of the area

Land-Use Legacies
Every landscape has a story. Legacies of human history and natural history shaped the soil, plants, trees, and wildlife of Harvard Forest.

1 Research Plot
2 Tilted Tree

STOP 5

Image of the area

Disturbance
There is evidence the ecosystems here were disturbed by a fierce microburst windstorm and by human activity. Researchers are studying the dynamics of disturbed forests and the hungry, hooved animals who like to dine on them.

1 Snapped and Uprooted Trees
2 Former Red Pine Plantation
3 Stone Wall

STOP 6

Image of the area

Earthworms
This section of the forest is dominated by white ash and sugar maple trees. This stop is unique because New England soils are typically not rich enough to support this forest type. Earthworms can be found in the soil on the left.

1 White Ash and Sugar Maple Forest

STOP 7


Colonial Rest Stop
From the French Road, the stone foundation of what was once the French Road Inn is visible. If you lived in the 18th century, maybe you would hae stopped at the French Road Inn for refreshment. If you visited in the 19th century, the building was a farmhouse instead of a tavern.

1 French Road Inn Stone Foundation
2 Barn Foundation
3 Bent Tree

STOP 8

Image of the area

Stream and Stoneworks
A stream flows around the stonework on the French Road Inn property.The area where the stonework dams the water has created an ecologically valuable vernal pool.

1 Unknown Stonework
2 Vernal Pool

STOP 9

Snag
Dying or dead tres that have not yet fallen are referred to as snags. What do you think created the small round holes you see on the trees?

1 Snag
2 Private Hiking Trail
3 Tagged Trees

STOP 10

Image of the area

Striped Maple
Along this stretch of road are striped maple trees, a northern understory species. Let's learn about their unique bark at this stop.

1 Striped Maple Tree

STOP 11

Image of the area

Forest Plants
When walking, don't forget to look down once in a while. Forests are home to a variety of plants along the forest floor that like the shade provided by the canopies of the trees.

1 Forest Floor

STOP 12

Image of the area

American Chestnut
This American chestnut tree appears to be a sapling, but it's actually more than 100 years old. Unfortunately, you won't see many mature chestnut trees in Harvard Forest because of the chestnut blight.

1 American Chestnut Tree

STOP 13

Image of the area

Plantations
It is common across Massachusetts to see plantations. Look on the right and notice how all of the trunks have forest-grown characteristics and are of the same species.

1 Red Pine Plantation

STOP 14

Image of the area

Fire
Can you find the upside-down V-shaped scars on the trees? The trees were damaged during a 1957 forest fire. Since then, many pioneer species have grown like white and gray birches, red oak, red maple, beech, American chestnut, and witch hazel.

1 Fire Scars

STOP 15

Image of the area

Hemlock
The eastern hemlock is an ecologically important tree, but today hemlock forests are imperiled by an invasive insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid. As the adelgid moves through our region killing hemlocks, Harvard Forest researchers are studying the tree's changing interactions with the atmosphere, water, and other species.

1 Hemlock Tree

STOP 16

Image of the area

Swamp
Walk on the boardwalk and learn about this mixed swamp forest. Black gum trees, red spruce, hemlock, red maple, and white pine grow overhead. Shrubs like winterberry and highbush blueberry reach your knees. Cinnamon fern, goldthread, and Sphagnum mosses cover the forest floor.

1 Ferns and Mosses
2 Black Gum Swamp

STOP 17

Image of the area

Black Gum
This black gum tree is the oldest living tree at Harvard Forest. Researchers can use tree cores to measure a tree's age.

1 Black Gum Tree

EXTRAS

Thanks for visiting

Thanks for visiting the French Road Trail!

Animals at Harvard Forest
Acknowledgements