Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: NunatukMountain hemlock is a species of hemlock that thrives along the west coast of North America from Alaska to California. In Whistler and Garibaldi Park you will encounter them high up on the mountains in subalpine areas battered by harsh winters. If you encounter a brutalized, yet strangely beautiful tree mangled by long winters, it is a good chance it is a mountain hemlock. Trees that have a weather worn, twisted appearance are known as krummholz, and the mountains around Whistler have plenty of these extraordinary trees.

Whistler & Garibaldi Park

 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Douglas-fir  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Emerald Park in WhistlerEmerald Forest  Erratics in Garibaldi Park and WhistlerErratic  The Fissile in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerThe Fissile  Fitzsimmons Creek in WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Lodgepole Pine Trees WhistlerLodgepole Pine  Glacier Moraines in Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Mount James Turner in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerMt James Turner  Mountain Hemlock Garibaldi Park WhistlerMountain Hemlock  Northair Mine in WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Nunatuks in Whistler and Garibaldi ParkNunatuk  Nurse Stump or Log in WhistlerNurse Stump  Overlord Mountain and GlacierOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPacific Yew  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPaper Birch  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Usnea or Old Man's BeardUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Western Hemlock Trees in WhistlerWestern Hemlock  Western RedcedarWestern Redcedar  Whistler SpruceWhistler Spruce  Mills Winram Whistler Coast Mountains MountaineerWinram,Mills

Mountain hemlocks occupy regions with mild to cold winters, short cool summers and moderate to high precipitation. They are very shade tolerant and thrive best in north facing slopes where snow remains the longest. Their strong branches are well adapted to cope under the weight of several metres of snow and drooping branches shed snow quickly.  Identifying mountain hemlock trees in Whistler and Garibaldi Park is not too difficult. High up in the mountains look for trees with their bases curved downhill. This is the result of growing under snowpack much of the year and a trait that mountain hemlocks have more than other trees. Another clue to indicate a tree is a mountain hemlock is that its overall shape will not be symmetrical and the top will be bent over. The top of mountain hemlocks are flexible in order to withstand heavy snow and high winds. Though similar to western hemlocks, one notable difference is the shape of the needles. Mountain hemlock needles stick out in all directions whereas western hemlock needles are arranged in a flat pattern. The bark of young mountain hemlock trees is brown with flat vertical scales. Older trees turn a greyish brown colour and have deep plowed grooves. Douglas-fir trees have deeply plowed grooves as well, though considerably deeper and Douglas-fir bark has orange highlights, whereas mountain hemlock bark is grey. The image below is a wonderfully mangled mountain hemlock at Callaghan Lake.

Mountain Hemlock Krummholz Callaghan Lake

How to Identify a Mountain Hemlock in Whistler

One indication that you may be looking at a mountain hemlock is a curved trunk. Though you see this in other trees, it occurs more consistently in mountain hemlocks in Whistler. As mountain hemlocks thrive in snowy mountains, they are often bent from being buried under deep snow and forced downhill over long winters. Wonderfully contorted mountain hemlocks like this (pictured below) are not unusual along Whistler hiking trails, like this one along the Newt Lake trail beyond Ancient Cedars on Cougar Mountain.

Whistler Trees: Mountain Hemlock Bent Shape

This incredibly hardy mountain hemlock is bent over Newt Lake from years of punishing winters. The vertical stem at the top of a tree's trunk is called the leader. Perched on a rocky outcrop in the shadow of a huge, vertical, crumbling cliff on Cougar Mountain, this mountain hemlock not only has to endure the crushing weight of tons of snow in the winter, but also brutally dry summers. The rock outcrop is surprisingly dry much of the summer due to its rocky and sunny position, jutting out above Newt Lake. The arid terrain around this tree is shown by the graveyard of dry, crumbling wood filling the ravine leading to the boulders adjacent to the steep cliffs. Newt Lake has a wonderful hostile beauty about it that has to be felt to be appreciated. The sun channels through a V shaped gap in the mountain and fills the enclosed feeling lake with a brilliant green glow and warmth that is remarkably intense.

Whistler Trees: Mountain Hemlock Bent Shape

Mountain Hemlock Tree Comparison

Another way to identify a mountain hemlock in Whistler is by looking at the bark. Young mountain hemlock bark is brown coloured, while older mountain hemlock bark is increasingly grey coloured and separated into flat vertical scales. This pair of mountain hemlocks (pictured below) are found along the shore of Callaghan Lake in Whistler. There are just a couple short hiking trails at Callaghan Lake and the short trail from the campsite leads to this hardy pair of trees. There is a beautiful hiking trail that can be found at the far end of Callaghan Lake which leads to a beautiful little lake high in the mountains. The Cirque Lake trail is reached by canoeing the length of Callaghan Lake and hiking the very steep, but short trail up to the very beautiful and aptly named Cirque Lake.

Whistler Trees: Mountain Hemlock Bark

Mountain Hemlock Bark Comparison

Cirque Lake in Whistler

Another way to know if you have a mountain hemlock is by looking at the needles. They jut out in all directions from the stem. This differentiates them from western hemlocks. Western hemlock needles are arrayed in a flat pattern, with needles arranged on each side of the twig. Mountain hemlock needles are arranged in a starburst pattern all around the stem, making them easy to tell apart.

Needles Comparison Western Hemlock and Mountain Hemlock

Whistler Trees: Mountain Hemlock Needles

Books About Whistler Trees

Plants of the Whistler RegionPFlora and Fauna of the West Coast of BClants of the Whistler Region is an excellent book that includes great pictures and descriptions of most trees you will find in Whistler. Small enough to fit in your pocket and comprehensive enough to identify most things you will encounter growing in the forests of Whistler. Along with conifer trees and broadleaf trees the book has chapters on flowers, berries, ferns and shrubs. You can find Plants of the Whistler Region on Amazon, the Whistler Library and at Armchair Books in Whistler Village. The author Collin Varner has a wonderful series of Plants of.. books on various regions beyond Whistler. Plants of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Plants of the Gulf and San Juan Islands and Southern Vancouver Island, and Plants of the West Coast Trail. In the last couple years he has started a new series of books. The Flora and Fauna of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest and Edible and Medicinal Flora of the West Coast: British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Glossary

 Ablation Zone WhistlerAblation Zone  Accumulation Zone WhistlerAccumulation Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAdit Lakes  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAiguille  Garibaldi Park WhistlerAlpine Zone  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArête  Garibaldi Park WhistlerARRTI  Garibaldi Park WhistlerArmchair Glacier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Barrier  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBattleship Islands  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBears  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBench  Garibaldi Park WhistlerBergschrund  BivouacBivouac  Whistler Bungee BridgeBungee Bridge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCairn/Inukshuk  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCarter,Neal  Garibaldi Park WhistlerChimney  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCirque  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCloudraker  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Douglas-fir  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCoast Mountains  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCol  Garibaldi Park WhistlerColumnar Jointing  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCordilleran  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCornice  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCorrie Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerCrevasse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDalgleish,Alec  Garibaldi Park WhistlerDeadfall  Emerald Park in WhistlerEmerald Forest  Erratics in Garibaldi Park and WhistlerErratic  The Fissile in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerThe Fissile  Fitzsimmons Creek in WhistlerFitzsimmons Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFitzsimmons Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerFyles,Tom  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Ranges  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGaribaldi Volcanic Belt  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGemel  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGlacier Window  Garibaldi Park WhistlerGreen Lake  Garibaldi Park WhistlerHoary Marmot  Garibaldi Park WhistlerKrummholz  Garibaldi Park WhistlerLithophyte  Lodgepole Pine Trees WhistlerLodgepole Pine  Glacier Moraines in Garibaldi Park WhistlerMoraine  Garibaldi Park WhistlerMt Garibaldi  Mount James Turner in Garibaldi Park, WhistlerMt James Turner  Mountain Hemlock Garibaldi Park WhistlerMountain Hemlock  Northair Mine in WhistlerNorthair Mine  North Arm FarmNorth Arm  Nunatuks in Whistler and Garibaldi ParkNunatuk  Nurse Stump or Log in WhistlerNurse Stump  Overlord Mountain and GlacierOverlord  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPacific Yew  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPaper Birch  Garibaldi Park WhistlerPeak 2 Peak  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRainbow Lodge  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRoundhouse  Garibaldi Park WhistlerRubble Creek  Garibaldi Park WhistlerScree  Garibaldi Park WhistlerSpearhead Range  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTarn  Garibaldi Park WhistlerThe Table  Garibaldi Park WhistlerTownsend,Charles  Usnea or Old Man's BeardUsnea  Waterbar or Cross DitchWaterbar  Western Hemlock Trees in WhistlerWestern Hemlock  Western RedcedarWestern Redcedar  Whistler SpruceWhistler Spruce  Mills Winram Whistler Coast Mountains MountaineerWinram,Mills

The Fissile is the stunning Matterhorn-looking mountain that is visible from Village Gate Boulevard in Whistler.  Looking up from Village Gate you will see ...
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Col: a ridge between two higher peaks, a mountain pass or saddle.  More specifically is the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks.  Sometimes ...
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When you hike in the alpine in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park, you will often encounter unbelievably hardy and sometimes mangled looking trees.  ...
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Hoary Marmots are the cute, pudgy, twenty plus pound ground squirrels that have evolved to live quite happily in the hostile alpine areas around Whistler.  ...
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The Pacific yew or western yew is a coniferous tree that grows in Whistler and along the coast from Alaska to California. The Pacific yew’s unique ...
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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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Mount Garibaldi is the huge, potentially active volcano that Garibaldi Provincial Park is named after.  Mount Garibaldi also lends its name to the Garibaldi ...
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Bivouac or Bivy: a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible.  Traditionally used to refer to a very primitive campsite comprised of ...
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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler Garibaldi Park

Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail ModerateRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMount Sproatt  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JanuaryJanuary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking FebruaryFebruary  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MarchMarch  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AprilApril  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking MayMay  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JuneJune  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking JulyJuly  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking AugustAugust  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking SeptemberSeptember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking OctoberOctober  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking NovemberNovember  Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking DecemberDecember

Cirque Falls crashes down from Cirque Lake to Callaghan Lake, connecting these two remarkably beautiful and very different lakes.  Where Callaghan Lake is ...
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Rainbow Falls is located just a short hike from the start of the Rainbow Trail to Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is along Alta Lake Road on the far side of ...
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Nairn Falls is a wonderful, crashing and chaotic waterfall that surrounds you from the deluxe viewing platform that allows you to safely watch it from ...
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Whistler Train Wreck is a hidden little world of brightly graffiti painted, wrecked train cars along a gorgeous stretch of Cheakamus River.  One ...
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Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141 foot waterfall just 30 to 40 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the ...
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*Temporarily closed in 2020* Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a gorgeous park with extraordinarily coloured lakes, waterfalls, stunning mountain peaks and ominous glaciers pouring into the valley.  Joffre ...
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Cheakamus River is a beautiful, crashing, turquoise coloured river that flows from Cheakamus Lake, through Whistler Interpretive Forest at Cheakamus Crossing, then down past Brandywine Falls to Daisy Lake.  ...
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Garibaldi Lake is the centre and base for much of the hiking in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The Garibaldi Lake campsite is located on the amazing, turquoise shores of this massive and mostly still wild ...
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