This study evaluates the relative ability of simple light detection and ranging (lidar) indices (i.e., mean and maximum heights) and statistically derived canonical correlation analysis (CCA) variables attained from discrete-return lidar to estimate forest structure and forest biomass variables for three temperate subalpine forest sites. Both lidar and CCA explanatory variables performed well with lidar models having slightly higher explained variance and lower root mean square error. Adjusted R2 values were 0.93 and 0.93 for mean height, 0.74 and 0.73 for leaf area index, and 0.93 and 0.85 for all carbon in live biomass for the lidar and CCA explanatory regression models, respectively. The CCA results indicate that the primary source of variability in canopy structure is related to forest height, biomass, and total leaf area, and the second most important source of variability is related to the amount of midstory foliage and tree density. When stand age is graphed as a function of individual plot scores for canonicals one and two, there is a clear relationship with stand age and the development of stand structure. Lidar-derived biomass and related estimates developed in this work will be used to parameterize decision-support tools for analysis of carbon cycle impacts as part of the North American Carbon Program.