Old tree in the Sierra

On a hike in to see and shoot Cascade Creek Falls in the Lake Tahoe Basin, I wandered a bit off the trail as I began the trip back and found some old trees that I thought were worthy of a photo - this is one with a couple of still live ones next to it. I don’t know what kind of tree this is/was, but it clearly is pretty old.

1 Like

The trees may be , but I’m not that familiar with western species. Whatever species they are, they’re certainly photogenic trees.

Thanks, Woody, I thought maybe someone would see the photo and identify the trees. Perhaps someone will.

Somehow the site missed the first sentence of my reply when I indicated that I thought they were probably bristlecone pines. Sorry if that confused you – and everyone else.

Hi Woody, I was thinking they might be bristlecone pines but I am not a arborist by any means and so I will leave it to others to ID these trees.

Gorgeous old trees! They do look like Bristlecones. I didn’t know they grew around Tahoe and a web search leads to some confusion about location. I know them from the White Mountains east of Bishop but they are also found in Great Basin NP and other areas in the west, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some can be found around Tahoe. This article gives information on ID to distinguish them from similar Limber Pines. https://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/identifying-bristlecone-pines.htm

Thank you very much, Diane! And welcome to NPN! Enjoyed a photo you posted in another area. I will check out the reference you gave for IDing the trees in my photo. Yes, I have also seen pictures - of bristlecone pines in the White Mountains - especially one particular tree that seems to be a photog fav.

Just read your bio on your website - great portfolio of images! You are a Biochemist - me a P. Chemist - by education. I didn’t take up flying as you did - in the right seat or any seat - but I lead developement of tools (instruments) for biotech and medical devices. Did you ever work as a Biochemist?

Nice image of a fine old tree.

It is a Western Juniper.

Thank you Preston. Are there specific indicators which clue you into it’s ID? Was going to see if I have another shot closer in of the 3 trees to perhap show more of the needles up close for better ID.

Best always,


Greg, the Juniper have short needles and brownish/red furry bark. They also produce berries, rather than cones. The tree on the left in your image is a Juniper.

Here’s a Juniper from the Sonora Pass area, at about 8,500’.

The Bristlecone Pine is found only in a few places in Nevada (Wheeler Peak area) and Eastern CA (The White Mountains, specifically). They grow in a more alkaline soil, unlike Juniper which requires a more acidic soil typical of the granitic Sierra.

I hope this helps.