Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: NunatukWestern redcedar is a very large tree commonly found in the Pacific Northwest. Frequently growing up to 70 metres and with a trunk diameter of 7 metres, they can live well over 1000 years. Specific is tricky to accurately measure on living trees, however, the oldest verified western redcedar was recorded as 1460 years old. The big western redcedars in Whistler's Ancient Cedars forest are thought to be 1000 years old.

Whistler & Garibaldi 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  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow 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  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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The awkward name spelling attributed to the western redcedar is to indicate that it is not a true cedar, but rather one of two Thuja species native to North America. Though western redcedar appears to be the most authoritative spelling used, many other variations of the name are frequently used.  Western red cedar, Pacific red cedar, giant arborvitae, western arborvitae are some examples of many of these variant names. Along with the variations on spelling, the names are sometimes spelled with uppercase and lowercase. So, for example Western Red Cedar is frequently found in use. The confusing variation in spelling is compounded by the spelling of the two other prominent trees found alongside western redcedars. Douglas-fir and western hemlock trees are close neighbours in forests in Whistler and much of the Pacific Northwest. The spelling for Douglas-fir is with an uppercase 'D', which when found together in a sentence makes the spelling of the three trees, western redcedar, Douglas-fir and western hemlock look awkwardly incorrect. Added to that the official taxonomy of the western redcedar is Thuja plicata, with an uppercase 'T' and lowercase 'p'.

Ancient Cedars in Whistler

Ancient Cedars is a nice, easy/moderate 2.5 kilometre(1.6 mile) hiking trail on the far side of Cougar Mountain, just 13.1 kilometres north of Whistler Village. A small, untouched grove of huge western red-cedars hidden high up in the mountains. Often overlooked by hikers, certainly there are other groves of massive cedars found in other Whistler area hikes.  If you hike the short 3 kilometre trail to Cheakamus Lake and you will marvel at the size, frequency and wonderful aroma of these massive and numerous giant cedars. The Wedgemount Lake trail also has some majestic cedars along the hike. You can even walk through an impressive grove of huge cedars on the Valley Trail at the north end of the Whistler Golf Club. None of them compare, however, to the giants at Ancient Cedars.  They are extraordinarily huge and some are estimated to be a thousand years old.  Most of these giants stretch toward the sky, but some lay along the forest floor giving you an even closer grasp of their size. If you bring kids along, they will disappear into the endless, natural playground.  Ancient Cedars is great to visit in the spring and fall months as you rarely see people and never feel mosquitoes. The problem is the trailhead is up a long way into the mountains and snow at this elevation persists until April and sometimes May. Snow, along with the steep access road make driving to the trailhead impossible for most cars until it disappears. Summer is great for seeing Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes in particular.

Ancient Cedars, Showh and Newt Lake Map v5

The trailhead to Ancient Cedars is just a short drive north of Whistler. Just past Green Lake on Highway 99, you turn left on Cougar Mountain Rd and drive 4.5 kilometres up a bumpy logging road. As logging roads go its pretty bad with a lot of deep potholes.  If you are driving a car you should be OK as long as you take it slow. The Ancient Cedars trail is well marked and well worn and only gradually uphill for the 2.5 kilometre hike.  At the Ancient Cedars forest there is a short circle trail that takes you throughout the giants then leads you back to the main trail for the return journey.  An unmarked trailhead to Newt Lake starts at the end of the Ancient Cedars trail.  The Newt Lake trail is wild, overgrown and fairly steep, but surprisingly enjoyable.  Lots of wild forest scenery and constantly changing topography.  At the end of the wild Newt Lake trail is the beautifully wild Newt Lake.  Relatively unknown, this lake is rarely visited and you will often have it all to yourself.  Fantastic!

Ancient Cedars Hike in Whistler

Above is Ancient Cedars in 2018 and below is in 2021 showing the massive Western redcedar that now lays across the forest floor.

Ancient Cedars in 2021

Ancient Cedars Hike in Whistler

Here is the huge cedar from a different angle.  Shown above in 2014 and below in 2021 where the huge tree came crashing down, just missing the bench seat.

Ancient Cedars in 2021

It smashed the interpretive sign next to the seat which can bee seen from the opposite side of the fallen tree.

Fallen Cedar Smashed Sign

Ancient Cedars Map Large v10

Ancient Cedars Hike in Whistler

Ancient Cedars Newt Lake Directions Map v2

Western Redcedars in Clayoquot Sound

Western redcedars that grow in the open tend to have crowns that stretch to the ground, whereas crowded trees will have crowns only at the top where sunlight can reach them. Western redcedars are able to thrive in many areas, from mountainsides to thickly forested swamps and streams. They are even able to grown under dense shade, an attribute not shared by many other large tree species. Western redcedars have a strong and wonderful aroma that comes from a natural preservative in their outer sapwood that prevents decay. This preservative contributes to their wonderful longevity. The lack of this preservative deep within the trunks also partly explains why old Western redcedars are hollow at their base. Some remarkably beautiful and old Western redcedars found in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino are so enormous and hollow at their base that several people can fit inside. This huge western redcedar shown below is located near Tofino at Kennedy Lake and is a good example of this.

Western Redcedar in Tofino

Another main contributing factor to the extraordinarily hollow base to western redcedars is the fact that many grow from nurse logs. A nurse log is a fallen tree that a young tree grows on. A nurse log provides several advantages to a young tree, and the larger the nurse log, the more pronounced the advantages. Growing from a nurse log provides a starting point metres above the ground of the forest and therefore closer to the forest canopy and increases the exposure to sunlight. The huge Western redcedar pictured here likely started its life on an enormous nurse log several metres in diameter, which would explain its huge, sprawling and hollow base that four people could easily fit inside by crouching slightly. The enormous nurse log that fell in this forest, well over 1000 years ago has long ago disintegrated, leaving the hollow under this wonderfully beautiful tree.

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.

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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November in Whistler is when the temperatures plummet and the first heavy snow falls in the alpine and often in Whistler Village.  The hiking opportunities become ...
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December hiking in Whistler is mainly done on snowshoes, though if it hasn't snowed for a few days, trails to Whistler Train Wreck and Rainbow Falls can ...
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There are plenty of beautiful and free snowshoe trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  From the surreal paintings of Whistler Train Wreck to ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi 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  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow 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  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Ring Lake is a fantastically serene and wonderfully remote lake similar to Cirque Lake, but considerably farther to hike to reach it. The 10 kilometre(6.2 mile) hike takes you through a rarely hiked forest, ...
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Blackcomb Mountain holds an impressive and ever growing array of hiking trails. From the moment you arrive at the Rendezvous Lodge, you see hiking trails ascend into the distance. The Rendezvous Lodge is ...
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Madeley Lake is a beautiful, remote mountain lake hidden high up in the Callaghan Valley.  From Whistler Village expect to take 40 minutes to drive there.  You can drive directly to the lake, however the ...
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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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