Falling branches posing safety risk to hikers
The Wasilik Poplar, the second largest yellow poplar tree in the United States, started its decline over a decade ago. Falling branches from the now dead tree are a safety hazard to hikers. The tree is located off Forest Service road 415, Lee Creek Road, in the Ash Flats of the Nantahala Ranger District. Danger signs have been posted on the trail to warn the public to stay away from the tree. Visitors should view the tree from a distance of at least 50 feet to avoid falling branches.
Named after the head Forest Ranger from 1939-1954, the Wasilik was once National Champion Yellow Poplar Tree as named by the American Forestry Association. In the 1980s lightning struck the top of the tree, permanently damaging the tree and causing it to lose its status with the association.
In addition to falling limbs, the center of the trunk has been rotten for years rendering it an even greater safety hazard. “We would like to keep the trail as a connector to the natural heritage area and to Forest Service road 415,” stated Mike Wilkins, Nantahala District Ranger. Visitors are cautioned to observe safety signs along the trail.
For more information, contact Brian Browning, Trails Ranger for the Nantahala Ranger District, at (828)524-6441.