Red Creek Fir
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) Pseudotsuga means "sort of a hemlock"
Canada's largest standing Douglas fir, Height: 73.8m (242'). Circumference: 12.55m (41' 2"), Crown: 22.9m (75')
Location and Road Conditions
As of September 2011 the Red Creek Fir bridge 4-5 km in on the old railbed from the Port Renfrew side is out and closed.
Road to Red Creek Fir Bridge out Photos by Don Cameron.
Red Creek Fir Parking Lot: The trail itself from the parking area has been cleared to the fir tree. The road out to the Red Creek Fir from San Juan Campground is still in very poor shape. Allow at least a half days drive. You should not drive your car there! It will bottom out in places where there are wash outs. It is four wheel drive conditions all the way! This is an old railway grade, hard packed with ruts sprinkled everywhere across the width so that you slow down to a crawl. But it is worth the journey. It is a short ten minute hike from the parking area, and the trail is marked by bright red tags on the trees. It takes about 40 minutes return. Along the way you will see another large stand of fir equally stunning in size to the giant called the Three Sisters.
You access Red Creek Fir ML (mainline) by taking the highway out of town (West Coast Road) 2.5 km to a sharp right bend in the road. This is the bottom of West Coast road and to your left is Red Creek Fir ML and in front of you is a road with a Dead End sign. Turn left here. This will take you past Falls Creek Trail, River Bank Trail, and on to Red Creek Fir Trail. The road winds along the Harris Cove (Port Renfrew side) arm of the San Juan River.
Map Red Creek Fir Mainline to Red Creek Fir Trail
Facts of Interest
This tree is the largest known individual in the family Pinaceae In 1985 it was measured as having a height of 74 m, dbh of 402 cm, and crown spread o 22.9 m.
The new, expensive, more accurate measuring equipment which has been introduced into the field has caused many trees to be lowered in the size rankings, but it has been determined that the largest known Douglas Fir in the world is one on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew called the Red Creek fir, it contains 349 cubic meters of wood.
The Red Creek Fir has been estimated from 750 years to 1,000 years old. A ring-counted age of 1350 for a specimen from Vancouver Island (BC) was collected by M.L. Parker and Les Jozsa. This tree was one member of stand that established after a fire ca. 635 A.D. It blew down in a storm in the winter of 1985-86, providing an opportunity to date it. It is plausible that older trees are still alive in the stand. There is also a record of a 1307 years for a stump in a clear cut on Waterloo Mt., Vancouver Island, sampled by Les Jozsa.
Historical records document some Douglas fir over 120 meters (400 feet) tall. Today specimens over 250 feet are rare. A beautiful display of old Douglas fir can be found in Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, Coombs and Port Albernie area of Vancouver Island.
Douglas fir is not a fir.
The Douglas-fir is not a fir at all, and its cones, hanging from the branches, are obviously different from the upright cones of the fir nor is it a pine or spruce. It is a distinct species named after Archibald Menzies, a Scottish physician and naturalist who first discovered the tree on Vancouver Island in 1791, and David Douglas, the Scottish botanist who later identified the tree in the Pacific Northwest in 1826. The species is known by a number of common names including Oregon Pine, British Columbian Pine, Red Fir and even Douglas tree; however, the U.S. Forest Service settled on Douglas Fir some years ago. Douglas Fir is North Americas most plentiful softwood species, accounting for one fifth of the continent's total softwood reserves. For links to more information visit Western Wood Products Association
Canoe Trip to Red Creek Fir (15km/9mi) (easy paddle, light portage)
If you like canoeing you can canoe down to the Red Creek Fir from Fairy Lake and then on to the mouth of the San Juan River at Port Renfrew. The trip will take about nine hours total. Its about six hours of paddling. The hike to Red Creek Fir is about 40 minutes return. There is a large log jam that you need to portage around, but otherwise a very easy paddle. The scenery is awesome along the way with lots of wildlife. If you do this trip in the fall you can witness the salmon coming up the river to spawn at the hatchery at Lizard Lake. Fairy Lake is also a BC Forestry campground and a great place to camp out for a weekend or just a day trip.
Cycling to Red Creek Fir (17km) (flat easy ride)
Easy day trip. Pack a lunch and camera. Safety precaution. This road is seldom used especially off season in the winter months. The road will be slippery in most places and warm dry gear will be mandatory. Summer season is comfortable during the day but bring your mosquito repellent if you plan on exploring any length of time off road. It is advisable you bring your own drinking water for the day.
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