Red fir grows throughout the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges in California between 4,600 and 9,000 feet. It is a large tree, to 200 feet and more. Young trees have smooth, gray bark with resin blisters; mature trees have reddish-brown bark.
Needles of firs are around an inch long, occur singly, and leave a clear round scar when plucked from the twig. Large cones (to nine inches) grow vertically in the top of trees, and disintegrate in place or are eaten by squirrels.
In northwestern California, red fir may overlap, intergrade or hybridize with noble fir. Thus we have Shasta red fir and/or Shasta fir (Abies x shastensis). Exact classification varies, and many more field studies and genetic analyses will hopefully provide clarity.
At Tioga Pass in 2003 this red fir is coning magnificently, obviously a good year for cones.
Here's a closer-up view of cones on a red fir in Desolation Wilderness. Cones are the largest of the firs, up to nine inches.
This red fir near the Tahoe Rim Trail shows the results of a lightning strike.
Yes, tall. Had to shoot diagonally.