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!

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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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Alec Dalgleish (1 August 1907 - 26 June 1934) was a highly respected mountaineer and climber out of Vancouver in the 1920's and 1930's.  His enthusiasm and ...
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The pale green shub-like growths hanging from trees in the forests around Whistler is called usnea.  These bushy, coral-like fruticose lichens anchor to bark ...
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The Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered most of north-west North America for much of the last 2.6 million years.  At the Last Glacial Maximum during the Last ...
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Amazing Hiking Trails in Whistler

The Best Whistler & Garibaldi Park Hiking Trails!

The alpine hiking trails on Whistler Mountain are the ultimate in luxurious, quick-access alpine hiking. Little effort gets you amazing views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountains, valleys of flowers and ...
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Cheakamus Lake is a wonderfully relaxing way to get in the wilderness easily and quickly from Whistler Village. The trail begins on the far side of Whistler Mountain, 8 kilometres from the Sea to Sky Highway ...
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Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The ...
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Whistler & Garibaldi Park Best Hiking by Month!

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 quiet ...
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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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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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Free Camping Gear Delivery to Garibaldi Park

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