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Cathedral Grove Forest Giant Trees
An Amazing Day Hiking Among The Ancient Conifer Trees in Cathedral Grove Forest - Home of the Giant Trees
It was a short 45 minute drive that brought us to the magnificence Giant Trees in Cathedral Grove Forest on Vancouver Island. A day trip that we have been planning for quite some time. It's always nice to be a tourist in your own hometown, and in our case on the island we have chosen to call home.
When life gets busy we immediately think that we need to get away and go on a vacation to some faraway place, but we often forget that there is an infinite amount of beauty and adventure for us to explore, right on our own doorstep.
This just happened to be one of those days filled with beauty and serenity under a majestic treetop canopy. If you have never experienced the magic of walking among the ancient giant trees of Cathedral Grove Forest, than come and join us, along with our children and grandchildren, as we stroll through one of the last easily accessible ancient conifer forests on the Pacific Northwest Coast.
We hope to give you a peek of a rare forest remnant of the giant Douglas fir trees of Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park, Vancouver Island. Many of these untouched majestic pillars are more than 800 years old and measure 75 m (250 ft.) in height and 9 m (29 ft.) in circumference. It's difficult to gain a true perspective of height of these giant trees, but many of them are taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Stands of ancient trees are rare today everywhere in the world. There are only a few places in Canada where such huge, ancient trees have remained in their natural state. Visiting one is a majestically awe inspiring experience.
As you walk among the forest of giants prepare to be humbled by their size. Imagine when you touch the bark of one that was here before explorers like Christopher Columbus ever came to Canada. What stories these trees could tell!
Copyright text and photos, if not mentioned otherwise: Judith Nazarewicz
Cathedral Grove Forest - You Don't Know What You Have Until It's Gone
Vancouver Island is home to some of the largest trees in the world! Some of these ancient trees are as tall as skyscrapers and can live for thousands of years. It is up to us to help to save them. They are our living legacy.
Welcome To Cathedral Grove Forest - MacMillan Provincial Park
Cathedral Grove is located in MacMillian Provincial Park on Highway #4 in the central part of Vancouver Island. It's nestled on the western shore of Cameron Lake only 25 Km from Qualicum Beach and 16 Km east of Port Alberni. Remember to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at Cameron Lake which provides a perfect setting for photography. The park is home to a 157 hectares of protected ancient old growth Douglas fir forest and is the only park of it's kind in British Columbia that is highway-accessible. It has a number of hiking and walking trails that are easily followed for any age and ability. The shorter looped trails are wheelchair accessible.
There are trails and paths on either side of Highway #4 which lead visitors through mighty stands of old growth trees. On the northern side of the road you will find groves of ancient Western Red Cedar and Bigleaf Maple. On the south side you will find Western Hemlock and the largest Douglas fir trees.
It is crucial that you refrain from smoking or lighting fires anywhere near the grove, not even in the parking lot. Cathedral Grove Forest is priceless and it would be a National tragedy if it was destroyed by a discarded cigarette.
I love taking photos and every chance I get I'm out trying to catch a bit of nature. I'm an artist so I'm always collecting reference material for my next piece of art work. I suppose you could call me an amateur photographer but by far not a professional. All the photos on this page I took by myself.
Visiting Cathedral Grove Forest was the perfect opportunity for me to try out my new camera.
I have two Nikon cameras. The first is a Nikon D3100 which I really like using, but I wanted a camera that I could use for videos, so I went ahead and bought the Nikon D5100. It is a wonderful camera for the price. Everytime I use it I learn something new about it.
I am really pleased with both Nikon cameras. So if you were wondering, I did use both cameras on my trip to Cathedral Grove.
I hope that you enjoy the photos of Cathedral Grove Forest Giant Trees and if you are unable to visit the park yourself please come back as this page is a work in progress and I'll being updating regularly with new info and pictures.
Capturing Memories Of These Ancient Giant Trees - Some of my equipment
I love this camera and for the cost, I don't think you can get much better. This camera takes excellent pictures even if you are a novice. With almost 600 Five Star reviews you can't go wrong.
Our Day In Cathedral Grove ForestClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ancient Red Cedar 350 Plus Years Old
The giant trees that make up Cathedral Grove Forest are the soul survivors of a forest fire that took place some 350 years ago which had swept through the entire area. This is one tree that was burned. Western Red Cedar has a natural preservative that makes it's wood resistant to decay.
A dead cedar tree may remain solid for over 100 years. As you can see by the photo I took of my son and grandchildren in the burned out cedar tree that is a remnant of the fire that devastated this area some 350 years ago. Our grandchildren loved being able to crawl through the tree and out through the roots on the other side. They were able to see the burn hole out through the core and found the homes of small animals in the tree.
Photo Credit: Judith Nazarewicz
More Photos of this Amazing Burned Out CedarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Impact Of Natural Forces on this Ancient Conifer Forest
On New Year's Day, 1997, a powerful "Qualicum" wind increased in forces as it funnelled through the narrow bend in Cameron Valley to this park. The combination of the high winds and wet soil conditions was too much for the forest to withstand and resulted in what is known as "windthrow".The remnants of this action can be seen around the park. Trees were uprooted while stems were shattered and "thrown" through the air. Peak winds lasting 20-30 minutes impacted about 36 hectares of the Cathedral Grove Forest. Remnants of the 1997 "windthrow" can be seen throughout the park.
What you would see today is much different then the forest we brought our children to 25 years ago and reveals a different face of this forest environment. Once sheltered under a dark natural umbrella formed by giant trees, new plants now benefit from the sun's rays reaching the forest floor.
It is sad to see the fallen giants but as you look around you witness the ongoing evolving cycle of nature as new plants that are better suited to the new conditions, establish and grow.
That same New Year's Day in 1997, my husband and I were driving through Cathedral Grove Forest on our way back from Toffino only 10 minutes before the wind had picked up and caused the devastation in the park. We were shocked to hear that just after we passed through the park these giant trees were falling everywhere. The road was closed, we were safe, but we couldn't stop feeling the overwhelming sadness and dismay knowing that many of these ancient giants were now gone for generations to come.
The devastating wind storm of 1997 that ripped through Cathedral Grove and other nearby areas toppled many of the forest giants but they have been left there exactly where they fell so that they many provide nutrients for the next generation of giants.
Photo Credit: Judith Nazarewicz
My Photos of the Impact of the Windstorm on Cathedral Grove ForestClick thumbnail to view full-size
War of The Woods - Protecting the Endangered Old-growth Forests VS. Clearcut Commercial Logging
There is precious little old-growth forest left in this country, forests that have never been touched by a saw. In British Columbia the faith of those old-growth trees has ignited one of the bitterest debates in memory.
The province's economy depends on the kind of quality lumber these big trees produce but critics say because of the way logging companies have chopped down forests in the past there aren't enough new trees coming along and the loggers say that they have to keep cutting down the giants.
So much like the block buster movie "Avatar" profit-driven corporation vs. environmentalists. What are your feelings?
What Do You Think And Why?
The Fight For Ancient Forests
Protecting old growth and ancient forests is one of the most important steps we can take to reduce the impact of climate change! It is absolutely crucial! The idea of logging old growth forests is not sustainable. Our forests are our clean air and we need to protect the remaining old growth forests for generations to come.
Canada's "Avatar" Forest
The videos below show how many, many people are working together to help preserve our old-growth forests for generations to come. So that our children and their children can enjoy these magnificent giant trees and the benefits they bestow.
It's the battle to save an ancient forest from a profit-driven corporation. Much like the blockbuster move "Avatar" this non-fictional saga of an ancient forest on Vancouver Island that is earmarked for commercial logging, and the campaign to stop that from happening.
"Our Living Legacy" is a (3-part) dynamic documentary about the movement to protect the last stands of ancient old-growth forests. By doing this, not only are these magnificent trees saved for future generations but also jobs in the forestry on Vancouver Island and BC's South Coast are being saved as well.
If you are interested in learning more about protecting British Columbia's endangered old-growth forests you can visit Ancient Forest Alliance website and learn more about these ancient and sign the Ancient Forest Petition to help save these trees.
Canada's 'Avatar" Forest
Avatar - with Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Wes Studi, Giovanni Ribisi
I might be a little biased but I loved this movie. As a matter of fact, our whole family has watched the movie over and over again since it was first released.
The plight of the fictitious planet in the movie "Avatar" is not too dissimilar from what is happening to one of the few last old-growth stands and rightly named "Avatar Grove" after the movie.
Forests: Our Future
This ancient forest is not just a grove of spectacular giant trees, but a rich ecosystem of hundreds of different kinds of interdependent animals, plants,fungi,and microscopic organisms.It forms a self-sustaining system in which nutrients are recycled to nurture new generations of living things. Each member plays a role in continuing cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
Forests recycle rain, create oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, hold soil in place and control the flow of water to our rivers. They provide a secure habitat for a myriad of lifeforms. Directly or indirectly they give us the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Quite simply, forests are critical to life on the planet. We hoped that you enjoyed this page and if you are visiting Vancouver Island be sure to make a point of this of visiting this spectacular old-growth Douglas-fir forest.
See them while they last! Old growth groves are so rare, that this place has special significance. It's lovely during all seasons. Take your time and sit and enjoy the presence of these magnificent trees.
Photo Credit: Judith Nazarewicz
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
We watched the movie with our grandchildren and I have to admit that there were parts in the movie that we were all tearful.
So, after watching the movie "The Lorax" my grandson wanted to know how we could save the trees.
My grandchildren have just moved in with us, after spending the first 5 years of their lives in Shanghai,China. When they first moved to island they had no idea that trees could grow so BIG and so old. They were only familiar with living in a concrete plasticized city. So, explains our excursion to Cathedral Grove Forest and now our quest to save the trees.
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If you haven't been to Cathedral Grove Forest is there any other ancient old-growth forest that you have visited? I would love to hear your comments. Also, If you have any questions, just ask! I will try and get back to you with an answer. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit this page. :-)