Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: NunatukWhistler spruce is a hybrid of the Sitka spruce and the interior Engelmann spruce. Sitka spruce trees thrive in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest along the West Coast of North America, whereas Engelmann spruce trees grow in the much drier interior. The Whistler spruce is a fast growing tree that gets impressively large very fast. Possibly the best place to get a good look at big Whistler spruce trees is along the Valley Trail at the end of Lorimer Road.

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

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Growing alongside the River of Golden Dreams in ideal conditions you will find some huge examples of the wonderfully large Whistler spruce. Possibly the biggest one in Whistler is found just before the bridge over the River of Golden Dreams on the right. Just a couple metres from the Valley Trail and next to the small side trail down to the water. It was recently cored by local tree expert Bob Brett and found to be over two centuries old. Brett notes in his excellent, Whistler's Old and Ancient Trees guide, that "size is not always a good predictor of age. Spruces grow very fast in moist, productive sites like this and can achieve huge sizes. Although almost 2 metres in diameter, this spruce is only 219 years old."  As Whistler spruce trees are a fairly recently classed hybrid of Sitka spruce and Engelmann spruce trees, extensive statistics on how big they can get, or how old they tend to live is not well known. Great stats, of course exist for Sitka spruce and Engelmann spruce. The Sitka spruce is the larger of the two and tends to grow close to 100 metres(300ft) tall and with a trunk diameter over 5 metres(16ft). The much smaller Engelmann spruce tends to grow in the range of 25-40 metres(82-130ft), with a trunk diameter that rarely exceeds 1.5 metres(4.9ft). One enormous Engelmann spruce was only recently discovered near Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and has a trunk diameter of 2.2 metres! Named the North Joffre Spruce it is found high up the valley on the opposite side of the highway from Joffre Lakes.  The longevity of both Sitka and Engelmann is roughly similar with known ages exceeding 700 years and in rare cases close to 1000 years.

Whistler Spruce River of Golden Dreams

How to Identify a Whistler Spruce

Identifying a Whistler spruce tree usually starts with a look at the bark which looks like thin, scaly flakes. Compared with other big trees in Whistler forests, the cornflake-like look to Whistler spruce bark looks very different to the vertical contours visible in western hemlock and Douglas-fir bark. These three types of big trees, along with the western redcedar dominate the forests in Whistler. Whistler spruce bark is very scaly, while western hemlock and coast Douglas-fir bark is furrowed in vertical sections.

Whistler Spruce Bark Comparison to Douglas-fir and Hemlock

Whistler Spruce Western Hemlock Douglas-fir

Whistler Spruce Cones

The cones of Whistler spruce trees are fairly small at just 4 or 5 centimetres long and are usually very numerous on the forest floor. The needles have one excellent identifiable feature if you look closely. Each need is attached to the twig by a small wooden peg. These remain attached to the twig long after the needled has separated and is a trait that all spruces share and readily distinguishes them from other similar trees in Whistler forests.

More Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking A to Z!

Porteau Cove is a beautiful little stop on the drive to or from Whistler. You will notice the lack of convenient washroom stops on the way to or from ...
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The Table is an extraordinary flat-topped mountain located in Garibaldi Park just one kilometre south of Garibaldi Lake.  Sometimes reflexively referred to as ...
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Whistler can be expensive.  Everything worth doing seems to cost a lot of money.  But if you step back from the noise and crowds you may spot some secret ...
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Chimney: a gap between two vertical faces of rock or ice.  Often a chimney offers the only viable route to the summit of a mountain.  An example of this is Black ...
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Deadfall means a tangled mass of fallen trees and branches.  There are several name variations for fallen trees that are commonly used in Whistler.  ...
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The second Caterpillar tractor in Parkhurst Ghost Town is considerably harder to find despite being just a few metres from the hulking Caterpillar at the shore ...
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Moraines are glacially deposited ridges of debris that accumulate at the sides or terminus of a glacier.  Lateral moraines form at the sides of glaciers ...
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Surprisingly often in Whistler's forests you will find a tree growing on an old fallen tree or out of a decaying tree stump. Decaying logs and stumps in ...
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Amazing Hiking Trails in Whistler

The Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking Trails!

The Sea to Sky Trail is a 180 kilometre multi-use trail that runs from Squamish to D'Arcy. The trail is still under construction in many parts, however, the amazing route through Whistler is finally in ...
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Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above the more well known Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see ...
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Hiking and biking trails are so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted.  The Flank Trail is one of these.  Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones ...
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Brandywine Falls is one of the must see sights on the drive to or from Whistler, and arguably the nicest of Whistler’s numerous beautiful waterfalls. Located about halfway between Squamish and Whistler, the ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi Park Best Hiking by Month!

July is a wonderful time to hike in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  The weather is beautiful and the snow on high elevation hiking trails is long ...
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August hiking in Whistler definitely has the most consistently great, hot weather.  You can feel the rare pleasure of walking across a glacier shirtless and ...
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September hiking in Whistler is possibly the best month of all.  The snow has melted far up to the mountain tops, yet the temperatures are still quite high.  ...
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Hiking in Whistler in October is often unexpectedly stunning.  The days are much shorter and colder but the mountains are alive with colour from the fall ...
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Free Camping Gear Delivery to Garibaldi Park

Explore BC Hiking Destinations!

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The West Coast Trail

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