Skip to main content

Larch Trees


There is a lake tucked into a bowl of mountains named Larix. The Loons are wailing and a soft autumn breeze blows. Big Nature guests take a break, sprawling out on a rock beside a slope dressed in gold.

Let me introduce you to the Larch Tree. Not everyone gets to be friends with the Larix Occidentalis, so take advantage, you’re going to want to shake its hand. Reach out and stroke the needles. They are soothingly soft, especially when they’re new and bright green in the spring.

The Larch tree is one of my favourites because it breaks all sorts of rules. * This is a deciduous/coniferous! A what? The Larch tree has cones, like an evergreen, but instead of pulling in moisture and keeping its needles all winter, Larches lose their needles in autumn.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend” – Bob Ross

Every September in the Canadian Rockies, this incredible specimen turns brilliant gold, bringing hikers from far and wide to enjoy this seasonal change.

When Larches lose their needles, new ones are already in their nodes. Which means, as soon as warmer weather comes, they take advantage. The tiny needles grow in bunches of 15-40 per node, and as you comb your hand along a branch, you can feel how flexible and gentle they are.


Larches are found on mountain slopes, a hike up from the valley floor, often along the tree line where just beyond is bare rock, wind and a heck of an amount of weather. This incredible tree grows in areas susceptible to massive amounts of wind, avalanches and snow loads. How do they survive where other trees cannot?

There are two ways they could do this! They can either be super bendable like a yogi or stand strong like a sumo wrestler. In fact, the Larch tree is both! Take a look at the young ones, they can bend right over with the tip of the tree skimming the ground, as if it was touching its toes.

Then as the trunk grows and get older, it gets so strong they can resist the harsh environment by being rock solid.

The Larch can grow up to two hundred feet (60 Metres) BUT Larch’s grow so SLOW. Only one foot in thirty years! So, the next time you are out hiking among these beauties, take a guess at how old they are. Thankfully, the larch can resist fire as it gets older because it has no needles or branches near the bottom of the trunk.


We are not the only ones in love with this tree. Pine Siskin's and White-winged Crossbill's are two species of birds that adore the nutritious seed of the Western larch. These seeds help them stay through the frigid winter of the Canadian Rockies.


Locals go bonkers in the third week of September, waking up at 3 am to get a spot at popular trails. Call us if you'd like to sleep in, go with a guide and find a place less crazy! Why You Should Hire A Guide.


  • How many different species of Larches are in the Canadian Rockies?

  • How can we tell them apart?

  • What is your favourite trail to view Larches?


Connect with nature

Stay grounded

Embrace change

Be flexible when needed

Don't let one storm break you

Grow slowly and always

Know you're beautiful

* Big Nature Guides are Awesome! But we learn from other incredible guides AND guides sometimes embellish. I know! Crazy Right?! We try to get it correct, but really?? A tree like a yogi??? - Actually, that seems like the truth to me. Want to find out? Call us


Written by: Katrina Rosen
Useful Information