Garibaldi Park Whistler A to Z: NunatukCoast Douglas-fir trees are medium to extremely large trees that you will encounter in Whistler and Garibaldi Park. They are the second tallest conifer trees in the world after the coast redwood and the third tallest of all trees in the world after Eucalyptus regnans. Coast Douglas-fir, also known as Pacific Douglas-fir, Oregon pine and Douglas spruce range along the coast of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon and have been known to reach heights of 120 metres (390 feet).

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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Named after David Douglas, a Scottish botanist that brought specimens of the tree back to Scotland in 1827. Douglas-firs resemble fir trees but are not true firs, which is why the spelling is usually shown to be hyphenated as Douglas-fir. Nineteenth-century botanists had such difficulty classifying Douglas-firs that they have been wrongly classed as pine trees, spruce trees, hemlock trees and fir trees. Interestingly, the final classification became the new genus Pseudotsuga, which translates as "false Hemlock". There are lots of great places in Whistler to see big and old coast Douglas-fir trees. Emerald Forest has several beautiful, close to 400 year old giants. Next to the playground at Alpha Lake Park has a grove of huge 300 year old coast Douglas-firs. Hanging over the valley trail along Nita Lake is a beautiful 600 year old. Not as impressively huge as you would expect for its age, this old tree is slow growing due to its rock cliff location that deprives it from water. Yet another excellent place in Whistler to encounter big coast Douglas-firs is along the Sea to Sky Trail along Green Lake. Here you will find countless big and beautiful monsters between 400 and 500 years old. Spotting coast Douglas-fir trees in Whistler is pretty easy. One thing to look for is deeply furrowed and orange tinted bark.

Though in young trees bark is thin, smooth, gray and contains numerous resin blisters, on mature trees it is extremely thick. Long vertical ridges of thick bark with furrows up to 20cm or 8 inches deep. The only other tree in Whistler you may mistake for a coast Douglas-fir based solely on the bark is an old mountain hemlock. Compared side by side, the difference is quite obvious. Mountain hemlock bark is furrowed as well, but the furrows are much less deep and the bark overall is smooth. Also, coast Douglas-fir bark has an uneven and chunky look to it, whereas mountain hemlock is comparatively smooth. Also, coast Douglas-fir bark has very noticeable orange highlights to it, whereas mountain hemlock is fairly uniformly grayish brown.

Coast Douglas-fir Bark

Another easily recognizable feature of the coast Douglas-fir can be found on the seed cones. If you look closely at a coast Douglas-fir seed cone you will see what is usually described as the back half of a mouse, two feet and a tail, poking out from between the scales. This three pointed bract is easy to spot and guarantees you have a coast Douglas-fir.

Coast Douglas-fir seed cone mousetails

To identify a coast Douglas-fir from a distance, look for upswept branches near the top which resemble smiles. Most other trees in the forest have downswept branches. The top of coast Douglas-fir trees, called its leader, points straight up, which differentiates them from western hemlocks and western redcedars which does not. Western hemlock leaders bend over and Douglas-fir leaders are flat. Coast Douglas-fir trees require a lot of sun to survive and are easily outcompeted by western hemlock and western redcedars, which are far less shade intolerant. Interestingly in forests dominated by large coast Douglas-firs, you generally don't find many coast Douglas-fir seedlings. In the battle for growth on the relatively dark forest floor, western hemlock and western redcedar seedlings survive and grow in shade, while the coast Douglas-fir seedlings die off.

Coast Douglas-firs Young and Old

Whistler has an interesting and very old Douglas-fir that hangs over the Valley Trail next to Nita Lake (pictured below). In recent years a tree survey was done and compiled in Whistler's Old and Ancient Trees guide. This deceptively small tree was estimated to be almost 600 years old.

600 Year Old Whistler Hanging Fir

Whistler Tree Silouettes

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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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler & Garibaldi Park

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 short, winding, and ever-changing hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is the same as the much more popular trailhead for Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is marked as the Rainbow Trail, and the trail quickly ...
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Keyhole Hot Springs (aka Pebble Creek Hot Springs) is located 100 kilometres from Whistler (Village Gate Blvd). Closed from Apr 1- Nov 15 due to Grizzly Bears habituated to humans in the area. Though most of the ...
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Black Tusk is the extraordinarily iconic and appropriately named mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in Whistler.  The massive black spire of crumbling rock juts out of the earth in an incredibly ...
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Skookumchuck Hot Springs(aka T'sek Hot Springs and St. Agnes Well), located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River. The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language ...
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