Kentucky's Division of Forestry has been keeping lists of the state's largest trees since 1968. Division foresters are happy to assist citizens in measuring trees they think deserve consideration for the list. Trees qualify according to a points system based on height, circumference 4.5 feet above the trunk's base and the crown spread, where the branches extend farthest from the trunk. Measurements submitted to the county's district office undergo forestry certification before a tree's nomination as County Champion.
Knox County Trident Red Maple
Kentucky's southeastern Knox County claims the state's larges trident red maple (Acer rubrum x trilobum). Standing 76 feet high, it has a trunk circumference of more than 12 feet and an astounding 133-foot spread. That spread makes it the widest of all Kentucky's state champion trees, and nearly 8 feet wider than the runner-up, a 124.5-foot-wide Trigg County pecan tree.
Pulaski County Silver Maple
Pulaski County, two counties northwest of Knox County, has a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) with a height eclipsing that of the Knox County trident maple by an impressive 26 feet. Standing 102 feet high, it's the second tallest of listed Kentucky maples. Silver maples, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, have stout trunks, and this one doesn't disappoint. Its nearly 25-foot girth is more than twice that of the Knox County tree. The only area in which it falls short is spread, measuring 100 feet wide. Even so, this tree scored enough points--424--to make it the overall largest maple in Kentucky.
Lawrence County Red Maple
Central eastern Kentucky's Lawrence County has the largest red maple (Acer rubrum), standing 99 feet tall with a 73.5-foot spread and a trunk circumference of 17.5 feet. Its dimensions earned this tree the second highest score--323.88 points--of the six County Champion trees. What it lacks in size, it might more than compensate for with the brilliant red autumn foliage that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says is responsible for the red maple's name.
Letcher County Sugar Maple
Letcher County, three counties northeast of Knox County, has Kentucky's largest sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Garnering the third-highest point total (293.78) of the maples measured, it's the tallest maple in Kentucky at 151 feet, and only one of five listed Kentucky trees over 150 feet high. A 75.1-foot spread gives it a narrow profile appropriate for its slender 10-foot, 4-inch girth.