Cascade River Road will be open as normal through fall/winter 2014
Cascade River Rd. will be open in 2014 until snow conditions make it impassable to vehicles, as normal. The road closure that was planned to begin September 8 has been postponed beyond 2014 due to unforeseen circumstances. More »
Lone Mountain Fire - National Park Service Trail Closures
The Lone Mountain Fire in North Cascades National Park is approximately 5 mi NW of Stehekin in the Boulder Creek drainage. Boulder Creek Trail is closed. More »
Re-opening of Adjacent U.S. Forest Service Road and Trails that Access North Cascades NP Complex
The area closure of the Twisp River Road and the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest due to wildfires has been lifted as of August 19, 2014. More »
Trees and Shrubs
Conifers – the Cone Bearers – dominate the forests of the North Cascades. They span the elevation ranges from sea level to the alpine zone, sheltering the low valleys and clinging to the thin mineral soils of the high peaks.
The conifers are often referred to as evergreens because of their characteristic needle or scale-like leaves that persist throughout the year. Yet, two species of larch are deciduous – dropping their needle leaves in the fall after turning a beautiful soft shade of gold.
In the North Cascades conifers define the major forest types, but adding to their complexity are many species of deciduous broad-leaved trees. Species of maple, poplar, and alder grow in the natural openings caused by disturbances to the upper canopy. This happens when large trees are blown over by wind or die of disease. Broad-leaved trees also grow along the edges of streams and rivers where there is more available light.
Woody shrubs, both coniferous and deciduous, grow in the understory of these forests providing shelter and food for wildlife. Many birds such as the rufous hummingbird also use shrubs for nesting. Shrubs are also important along stream corridors where their shade helps to keep water temperatures from getting too high for fish, particularly salmon, and other aquatic fauna.
What is the difference between a shrub and a tree?
Generally, trees are over 20 feet tall and have trunks more than 2 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet about the ground. Shrubs are smaller than trees and often have many small, woody, bark covered stems rising from the base.
Did You Know?
Stephen Mather Wilderness comprises 93% of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. About 400 miles of trail provide access to this rugged Wilderness.