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!

Emerald Forest is a cute little forest that is well hidden between Whistler Cay and Alpine.  From Whistler Village, if you go down to the end of Lorimer ...
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Crevasse: is a split or crack in the glacier surface, often with near vertical walls.  Crevasses form out of the constant movement of a glacier over ...
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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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If you make it to the summit of Wedge Mountain you will notice off in the distance a beautifully symmetrical mountain that stands out among the rest.  ...
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Cirque: a glacier-carved bowl or amphitheater in the mountains.  To form, the glacier must be a combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a ...
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Every unusual phenomenon in the forest seems to have a name, but one natural work of art seems to be without a commonly used name.  Big trees with ...
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Waterbar and Cross-Ditch: the purpose of a waterbar or cross-ditch is to capture and redirect surface water from the road and channel it across the road ...
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The sawmill at Parkhurst operated on the triangle of land that juts out into Green Lake and also extended north between the train tracks and the lake.  The ...
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Amazing Hiking Trails in Whistler

The Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking Trails!

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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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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Taylor Meadows is a very scenic campsite and great alternative to the much busier and more well known, Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk, ...
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Madeley Lake is a gorgeous mountain lake located high up in the Callaghan Valley just a short drive past Alexander Falls.  From Whistler Village it takes about 50 minutes to drive the 27.4 kilometres to get to the ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi Park Best Hiking by Month!

In the(usually) deep March snow of Whistler you have an amazing array of snowshoeing options.  If you have not been to the Whistler Train Wreck, you have ...
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April in Whistler is a wonderful time of year.  The winter deep freeze ends and T-shirt weather erupts.  The village comes alive with overflowing patios and ...
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May is an extraordinarily beautiful time of year in Whistler.  The days are longer and warmer and a great lull in between seasons happens.  Whistler is fairly ...
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June is a pretty amazing month to hike in Whistler and Garibaldi Park.  The average low and high temperatures in Whistler range from 9c to 21c(48f/70f).  ...
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Free Camping Gear Delivery to Garibaldi Park

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