The Carmanah Giant

The Carmanah Giant: Diameter - 3 m (10ft), Height - 95 m (315ft), Age - 500 to 700 years

The Carmanah Giant is a monumentally tall Sitka spruce growing in the Carmanah Creek canyon in Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Park. It is the tallest tree in Canada, and the tallest Sitka spruce in the world. The Giant lives in one of the tallest forests on the planet, and is an excellent example of the vanishing primeval forest that once blanketed Vancouver Island.

The trees of the Carmanah and Walbran watersheds escaped the saw for a long time due to their remote location on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. But the arrival of the timber cruisers, bulldozers, road builders, and fallers was inevitable, and in the 1980s they finally came. 

If it were not for conservation efforts, starting with Randy Stoltmann, this magnificent tree and all its neighbours would have surely been razed in a clear cut that would have represented a huge global loss. It would have been a loss, as well, to the pairs of endangered Marbeled murrelets that nest only on the huge branches of old growth trees.

I am glad this incredible tree and the forest in which it grows were saved from impending destruction. However, the Carmanah Giant is not in the "See Them" category of big trees. Visitation to some parts of this park, including the Carmanah Giant, is discouraged in order to avoid the devastating potential results of unregulated access.

Even though I feel the lure of the big trees, many individual trees get loved to death by tourists. For me it is good enough to know that the Carmanah Giant is out there, growing, thriving, and perpetuating 12,000 years of continuous forest processes and cycles.

Photo credit: Iriemaan


  1. Micah25/9/11

    Wow. Great pictures! I wonder what the maximum height of Sitka Spruce is? I remember seeing the Klootchy creek giant, before it blew over. It was 17 feet thick. When you approached it, you felt like you were about to enter a house.

  2. Micah,

    I recently came across a brief article from 2010 about a Sitka spruce on the US west coast that is taller than the Carmanah Giant - The Raven's Tower Spruce.

    It is located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, and is 96.8 m (317 ft) tall.

    "Raven's Tower was discovered and measured by Ron Hildebrandt and Michael Taylor in 2001, and was also measured by Steve Sillett in 2007.

    The tree has lively top, and by now might be taller." - http://www.wondermondo.com/Countries/NA/US/California/RavensTower.htm

    Another site gives Chris Atkins-Taylor credit for the discovery of the Raven's Tower Spruce, and points out that the tree was measured with tapeline by Steve Sillett.

    - http://www.landmarktrees.net/sitka.html

    These trees must be approaching their biological limits, but who knows. There could be taller trees out there.

  3. Anonymous7/11/16

    I worked in the engineering department at Franklin River Woodlands before and during the "crisis in Carmanh". I measured the Carmanah Giant with a tapeline from a helicopter. It WAS 312' in 1988. On the signpost, both measurements are wrong. The diameter was hard because the tree is growing out of the base of a rock outcrop. We measured it to be between 7 and 8' at point of germination. The height is also a little suspect as this tree is a snag, the top 20% of it is dead, void of any needles or cones, just white/gray barkless spruce, so it is likely shorter now than when we measured. It is really not a majestic tree due to the dead top.

    1. The trail to the big tree is best done in a 2 day stint once you are based in camp Heaven at the bottom of the of the valley which is a couple hour hike from the road the trail to camp Heaven is medium duty but to the big tree is hard to extreme no heavy packs lots of ladders to traverse on steep banks so don't bring children or pets you will have to turn back and there is no rescue so pack with essentials and good rain gear.One thing I noticed when I did the hike was the oxygen content in the air in the valley I could hike all day and not be tired and I smoked cigarettes at the time but didn't want one while hiking 200 feet of tree canopy produces a lot I guess great hike for something very unique at the end you go back in time as you descend into the valley as much as Fifty thousand years ago Good luck if you go😁

    2. Wr tried and failed today. Hiked across from east on a logging spur road. Down to the river. Hiked down river to the ocean, wasnt t here.Headed back up river, but eventually hit deep, still water with 200ft sheer cliff face on either side. Looks bow shaped on the map. Didnt look passable forbthe risk of slipping into the deep water, and we were running out of time. Were we close ? Thanks

    3. As an arborist who has climbed this tree and taken clones and samples of this giant. How dare you suggest this isn't a majestic tree by its age and health alone. Hyperion lost its top several years ago and is still one of the tallest trees in the world renowned for its height. The genetic mutations discovered in this tree and its rarity in the current world we live in is amazing. I hope your view of trees has changed since this comment. The type dying in this tree is a method of survival if anything merit to its existence.

  4. Anonymous12/2/21

    Using LiDAR, WFP has recently located a 94m tall Douglas Fir near Sayward, BC. It also has a live top, so it could one day overtake the Carmanah Giant as the tallest tree on Vancouver Island. As the use of LiDAR increases across the coast, more trees like this may be discovered. What is cool about this Sayward Tree is that it is relatively easy to get to (only minutes from the hwy). Documented here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1_hTSBMrUI

  5. Anonymous10/6/23

    Fabulous when left alone the they quietly continue happy and healthy on their journey of life


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