• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

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  • Lone Mountain Fire - 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 and War Creek Trails are closed. Rainbow Loop Trail is in-use as a staging area and closed to public use. More »

  • USFS closes Easy Pass Trail from State Route 20

    Due to fire activity near the trail, the US Forest Service has closed the Easy Pass trail and trailhead on State Route 20. This area has been receiving precipitation. The highway remains open.

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.

 

Additional Resources:
Tree Checklist
(PDF 82 kb)

Did You Know?

Junior Ranger Totem: Raven

Anyone can become a North Cascades Junior Ranger! Pick up one of the four FREE activity booklets at any of the visitor or information centers. Complete the activities and earn your official junior ranger badge! Download the booklet here. More...