Next Creek forests on Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Steve Ogle)

Next Creek forests on Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Steve Ogle)

The largest larch

The largest larch, Darkwoods, BC (Photo by NCC)

The largest larch, Darkwoods, BC (Photo by NCC)

When something stands the test of time, it often delivers a memorable impression. A certain western larch found at the end of a trail on the Darkwoods Conservation Area of the South Selkirk Mountain is no exception. A marked trail guides the unsuspecting hiker through an old-growth forest when, suddenly, a flash of scarlet-tinged bark captures your attention and begs for a second look.

At the base of the tree, even before looking up, you can’t help but feel humbled by its marvellous size. Its diameter alone measures 117 cm. In 2018, scientists took the measurement of its height and estimated this old specimen to be 48.6 metres tall.*

The largest larch dwarfs an NCC intern (Photo by NCC)

The largest larch dwarfs an NCC intern (Photo by NCC)

Rumour has it that it may even be the second-largest larch in all of Canada. The mere existence of such a monumental structure in today’s age is nothing short of remarkable.

In many ways, there is strength and stability in numbers. Growing at approximately 1,300 metres high, this larch lives among many other trees of respectable size, including western hemlocks and western red cedars. Together, they offer some reassurance in an era where the health and diversity of other natural ecosystems are threatened or declining throughout the world.

Without the conservation efforts aimed at protecting places such as this, these areas would struggle or cease to exist. Not only does this forest provide irreplaceable habitat for wildlife, it also provides a place of connection and solace for those fortunate enough to find it. An encounter with the grand larch is truly an experience to behold.

*48.6 metres is about half as tall as the Statue of Liberty, or about the height of a 15-storey building.

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