Big Tree Hunt

Now that's a big tree!

Celebrate Arbor Day with the whole family. Schools are closed but the outdoors are open and you can still get outside, stay healthy, and learn about trees!

*Contest extended through May 15th*

Arbor Day celebrates trees and all they do for us. Trees have been planted since the beginning of civilization, and the Arbor Day holiday in the United States dates back to 1872! Most states celebrate Arbor Day in April, but with occasional late winters here in Vermont, we celebrate our trees on May 1. The Arbor Day Foundation has created a wonderful guidebook with history and resources on the holiday. Click here to read that resource. 

This year, the Stowe Conservation Commission and the Stowe Land Trust want to highlight some of the unique trees right here in Stowe. There are many factors that can make a tree unique - including size, shape, or species - and the feature we want you to be on the hunt for is size! Can you find the biggest tree in Stowe? 


  • Tree size is based on the circumference of the tree measured in inches
  • Circumference should be measured 4.5 feet above the ground
  • Trees must be in Stowe
  • Contest is open now through May 15, 2020
  • Prizes awarded to the finders of the three largest trees!
  • All ages welcome - one entry per person please

Click here to fill out the online entry form. 


What is circumference? How should I measure it? 

Circumference is the distance around something. In the case of a tree, it's the distance around the trunk. Foresters typically measure the size of trees 4.5 feet (collar bone - breast bone height on an average adult) off the ground. That's how we'll run this contest too! Measuring at this height normalizes factors like root swell that might give you an incorrectly large measurement. 

All you need to measure the circumference of a tree is a large piece of string! Take your string and wrap it around the tree - it might take more than one person if you've found a really big tree! Mark where the end of the string comes back around to touch. Then lay the string on the ground in a straight line and use any tape measure, yard stick, or ruler that you have at home to measure the length of the string in inches. 

How big is a big tree?

When a Big Tree Hunt was hosted in Michigan, the largest tree found in that state had a circumference of 384 inches! We may not find any that large here in Stowe, but as an example, SLT staff found a big tree growing at Kirchner Woods with a circumference measuring 124 inches. 

How does a tree grow? 

How does a tree grow big and tall? Check out this publication from the Virginia Department of Forestry and then test your knowledge by trying to complete this crossword puzzle

Questions? Email naturalist@  

Contest sponsored by Stowe Land Trust and the Stowe Conservation Commission