The Hollyburn Fir

The Hollyburn Fir is an absolute revelation! It sits almost inconspicuously, if that’s possible, in a shaded forest clearing at 678m in elevation on West Vancouver’s Brewis Trail. Somehow, it has managed not only to avoid being logged, but also eluded discovery until April of 1985! Its trunk measures 9.7 feet in diameter and its age was estimated to be just shy of 1100 years old by dendrochronologists back in 1986. The tree was nominated for the B.C. Big Tree Registry by well known tree hunters Randy and Greg Stoltmann, both West Vancouver residents at the time, I believe. It still ranks highly on British Columbia’s list of top ten Douglas Firs, to my knowledge.

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The first time I saw this tree I was surprised that it seemed so little known. That has changed now, and it gets many regular visitors
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The trunk retains a lot of diameter as it rises, and is very straight and true. I believe the height is roughly 250 feet, when I last checked

You would think that an enormous Douglas Fir would have drawn more attention over the years, especially as it resides in an area that once had seen extensive logging and has also been used considerably for recreation. It has been speculated that it was a well kept secret by locals, after all, there are even seventy year old cabins in its vicinity that are within two kilometres from this tree!

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The base of the Hollyburn Fir is a bit over ten feet in diameter at breast height
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It’s easy to feel humble standing alongside something that is ten centuries old! Doug giving it the stoic turn of the 20th century style pose in this photo!

It’s no surprise, however, that it was found on the lower slopes of Hollyburn Mountain. A large scale logging operation at the turn of the twentieth century did considerable harvesting in both Lawson Creek and nearby Brothers Creek. The forests of Lower Hollyburn were legendary! Many of the trees taken in those days were between 500 and 1000 years old in age. Even so, many grand specimens do remain standing, but with certainty, the Hollyburn Fir may just outshine them all!

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This is the more rarely photographed west side of the tree
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A closeup of the bark structure on one side of the tree

If you haven’t had the chance to visit this giant, I suggest that you do. In a world that persists in seeing ancient forests simply for their dollar value, trees that have lived for a millennium are in increasingly short supply. This one, at least, is protected from that avarice, and to see the Hollyburn Fir is like travelling back in time!

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I am always happy to visit the Hollyburn Fir!

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