Exploring Conifer Country

Conifers abound around Little Duck Lake. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
Conifers abound around Little Duck Lake. Photo by Sarah Burstein.

Recently, I went on a mini backpacking adventure with the goal of exploring the immense diversity of conifers of the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Following Michael Kauffmann’s Conifer Country: A natural history and hiking guide to 35 conifers of the Klamath Mountain Region, we set off for Little Duck Lake in the Russian Wilderness Area, an area known as the “Miracle Mile” for having 17 conifer species all within a square mile.  Conifer Country acts as both a field guide to identifying conifer species, as well as a hiking guide, leading readers around the region with extensive tips on where to find conifers.

Check out the drooping dreadlock-looking branches on the Brewer Spruce. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
Check out the drooping dreadlock-looking branches on the Brewer Spruce. Photo by Sarah Burstein.

With Kauffmann’s guidance, (including additional top secret conifer clues that can be downloaded from his website with the purchase of the book), we hiked the trail to the lakes spotting TONS of conifers along the way. Even without hiking the ridge above Little Duck Lake, we identified 14.5 out 17 conifer species (possibility 18, I heard a rumor…), with the half a point going to a binocular-assisted spotting. And, of course, we got to see many prime examples of my favorite conifer, a rad relic species, the Brewer Spruce (Picea breweriana).

Check out Conifer Country at http://conifercountry.com

New cones forming on a Brewer Spruce. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
New cones forming on a Brewer Spruce. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
The Brewer’s dreads also make the prefect shady rest spot. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
The Brewer’s dreads also make the prefect shady rest spot. Photo by Sarah Burstein.
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