Zoar Valley Unique Area
Zoar Valley Unique area contains some of the last stands of old-growth forest in Western New York, and the Valentine Flats area is a good place to access it. Zoar Valley's most renowned forest stands of "big tree" old growth are found in the bottomland areas. There are groves of large and aging eastern cottonwood, American sycamore, and American elm. An isolated sycamore, now embedded within later successional beech-maple woodlands, has been core dated to 350 years. Species diversity along the canyon bottom is among the highest in the northeast, with more than 30 tree species present. Tree diameters and, especially, heights are superlative. Numerous species exceed 40 inches diameter. The ten tree species occurring here that are the tallest in New York State include tulip poplar, sugar maple, slippery elm, American sycamore, black walnut, cottonwood, red oak, bitternut hickory, yellow birch, basswood, and white ash. On the slopes, trees are generally moderate in size, however they are exceptionally old. An eastern hemlock of only 16 inches diameter has been core dated to 450 to 500 years old. The slope woodlands present an impressive and ancient aesthetic but few stands can be visited directly. The steep slopes are mostly too dangerous to traverse.