Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations
Elevations and forest types · By Dirk Frankenberg
Transition to northern hardwood forest
At elevations above the chestnut oak forest — but not necessarily above variants of the rich cove forests — the Blue Ridge supports forests of hardwoods more commonly found in the the northern reaches of the United States and in Canada. In the Blue Ridge, though, more varied species are found together in the same location.
It is often difficult to identify hardwood species at a distance, but in the late spring, the early leaf color of Blue Ridge hardwoods is usually sufficiently varied that one can tell how many different species occur in the canopy. (Knowing which color goes with which species requires much more study.) The multicolored canopy of the late May northern hardwood forest of the Blue Ridge can be seen by looking closely at Figures 5 and 6.
In Figure 5, the transition from chestnut oak to northern hardwood forest slopes up towards both sides of the picture from a low point about one-fourth the distance from the horizontal road opening to the peak of Tanbark Ridge. Here the transition occurs at about 3300 feet.