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Cathedral Grove Forest Giant Trees

Updated on August 29, 2017

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.

Ancient Giants

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

Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm VR, 55-200mm Zoom Lenses (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm VR, 55-200mm Zoom Lenses (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

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 Forest

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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

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More Photos of this Amazing Burned Out Cedar

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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

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My Photos of the Impact of the Windstorm on Cathedral Grove Forest

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Old-growth Trees Fallen from Windstorm
Old-growth Trees Fallen from Windstorm
Old-growth Trees Fallen from Windstorm

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

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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

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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.

Affiliate Disclosure

Junaz11 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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. :-)

Have You Ever Been To Cathedral Grove Forest on Vancouver Island BC? - Are You Planning On Visiting The Island?

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    • SimonJay profile image

      SimonJay 3 years ago

      Omg some of those trees are huge what a fantastic place on our planet.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Great lens! It is vital that we highlight and emphasize the importance of trees, and nothing is more wonderful in nature than standing amidst ancient trees that have witnessed far more history than any human being ever could!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      This is a wonderful place to explore many things, I would like to visit it and take pictures of giant trees, that would be a great experience for me! Thanks for sharing :)

    • KathyZ1 profile image

      KathyZ1 3 years ago

      Congs on LOTD. Thanks for your sharing.

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      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this wonderful lens on such an important topic. I just returned from a trip to Sequoia National Park (in California) where I visited ancient trees. Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      This is so much like the giant redwood forests of Northern California, my favorite place in nature. Love this lens. Now I want to go to Vancouver Island more than I ever have.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      Amazing giants. And you've created an outstanding educational lens.

    • profile image

      philipcaddick 3 years ago

      I have never been, but certainly looks worthwhile.

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @favored: Thanks so much for the wonderful comments and thanks for visiting! :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @Meganhere: Thanks so much for visiting and liking my lens!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 3 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      The communities on Vancouver Island are now trying to pull together to protest these practices as a group. There is an excellent video at this link:

      http://www.mistyislesadventures.com/portfolio-item...

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 3 years ago from Washington KS

      Wonderful lens, beautifully written. Loved the pictures. Thanks so much for sharing this experience.

    • MrAusAdventure profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      I have never been to this part of Canada but i would love to visit sometime and this forest in particular looks pretty awesome! Congrats on LOTD. P.S. I noticed a typo! "It is crucial that you re frame from smoking" I think you meant refrain!

    • profile image

      ChocolateLily 3 years ago

      I have not been to Cathedral Grove Forest, but I have been to see the Redwoods and Sequoias in California. They are awe-inspiring! Congrats on LotD!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This looks beautiful. I believe "Twilight" was filmed somewhere in Canada and this looks very much like scenes from the movie.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Never been there but it looks like a terrific travel destination. Great pictures! Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      We lived there for a couple of years, LOVED IT! I have a picture on my Sooke BC lens of me at Cathedral Grove.

      Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • JuneMary LM profile image

      JuneMary LM 3 years ago

      Our Ancient Woodlands in England don't contain anything as big. It must be wonderful to be amongst them.

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      changrcoacher 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD. What a beautifully photographed and told story. Thank you! My tree hugging has all been in the California Redwoods.

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      fred999 3 years ago

      Yes I have on a couple of occasions and it is quite a sight to see. Also if you are in the area in late august or early September the salmon running in the Stamp river is and amazing sight as well

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @delia-delia: Thanks so much for visiting my lens and commenting. It's really appreciated. If you are ever around this area. Drop me a note. :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @Faye Rutledge: Thanks for visiting my lens and for the wonderful comments! It's really appreciated!

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @haley-graham-52: Thanks so much for the wonderful comments and for taking the time to visit. :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @pawpaw911: Thanks so much for stopping by! :-) It's a wonderful place to visit. I hope you get a chance to visit some of these ancient forests. :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for the wonderful comments and again thank you for visiting my lens. It's really appreciated. :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @GrowthSpark: We are so fortunate to have the technology we do today. It's much easier now to make a statement and voice our opinions and hope that our concerns are spread to the far corners of earth. The point is we have lost many of the old growth forests but it's never too late to save what is left. :-) Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my lens. :-)

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      anonymous 3 years ago

      Awesome photos and lens with vital information and impact! Congrats on lens of the day and excellent work!

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @PAINTDRIPS: Thanks so much for visiting my lens on these ancient trees..and thanks again for the wonderful comments. :-) It always seems that we neglect to appreciate what we have until it's too late.

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @esmonaco: You are more than welcome, I'm so glad you had the opportunity to visit my page and hopefully one day you will get a chance to visit some of these ancient forests.

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 3 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @qikey1 lm: Thanks so much for visiting my page on Cathedral Grove Forest. I would highly agree with you. :-) I think that it's up to every single person living on this wonderful planet to be aware of our surroundings . As humans we each have our individual responsibilities to our planet. :-)

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I would love to visit this place sometime, but in the meantime you have brought it to all of us. Thank you for the amazing pictues and story.

    • qikey1 lm profile image

      qikey1 lm 3 years ago

      I visited cathedral grove with my husband and eldest son when he was only 2 years old. I would love to return so my other kids could see it and my oldest could remember it this time :) Definitely a place worth making a lens about as well as spreading awareness about deforestation.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 3 years ago from Fresno CA

      I've never been but I appreciate your pictures and a taste of the grandeur. I live in California not far from the Mariposa Grove of ancient trees. I understand what you are saying about the lose that can never be replaced (not without thousands of years of growth and protection anyway). Nice lens. Good reminder.

    • GrowthSpark profile image

      GrowthSpark 3 years ago

      We have so few forests left here in the UK, it's easy to appreciate them elsewhere. Once they go, you just can't get them back...great lens, many thanks.

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      pawpaw911 3 years ago

      Really makes me want to visit there.

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      haley-graham-52 3 years ago

      Love the photos!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      Never been, but would love to see these amazing trees! Congratulations on LotD!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Amazing trees, truly a gift from God...I did not know theses were on Vancouver island...I have a cousin that lives on the island.

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 3 years ago

      I have never been anywhere like this or seem trees this old or this big. The photos are really impressive and I do hope that the forests stay protected in the future.

    • somebudiesangel2 profile image

      Tami-Lynn 3 years ago from North Vancouver

      AWESOME lense:) Awareness is key....

      I have been to that forest and it is amazing:) I am a fellow Canadian that lives in Vancouver...thanks for sharing the story and wonderful photos:)

    • Susan Zutautas profile image

      Susan Zutautas 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've been through the Redwoods and would love to see the Cathedral Grove Forest. Beautiful lens and congrats on a well deserved LOTD!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Wonderful photographs of these amazing old trees! We really do need to do everything we can to keep them. After all if we plant today it will be 800 years until people can enjoy them again. Not to mention the air purifying benefits of just one of these Giants.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is really special and these pictures show what we are missing by denuding our forests.

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 3 years ago

      Wow, what a great lens! I would love to visit Vancouver Island and if I get there one day I would love to hug some big old trees.

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      getmoreinfo 3 years ago

      Wow such an amazing forest of trees.

    • girlfriendfactory profile image

      girlfriendfactory 3 years ago

      I haven't been but it looks like a must see vacation destination! We have giant redwoods near us. Avatar is one of those movies that just makes me cry because I don't understand people like that. Your pictures are beautiful ~ thanks for sharing with us!

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      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      These trees are absolutely amazing, and your photographs really show the magnificence of them. Wonderfully made by our Creator and we get to enjoy the spender of all this! Wow. Congratulations on LotD and the purple star. Well done!

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      Beautiful photos! I've been to some of Australia's old growth forests. I'd love to visit places like Cathedral Grove Forest.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I would love to visit! We've been to Vancouver but didn't get to see these trees!

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @steadytracker lm: Thanks for visiting my lens! I would love to see pictures of those tree!

    • steadytracker lm profile image

      steadytracker lm 4 years ago

      An Amazing lens. It is simply wonderful to see these ancient trees. Here in the Philippines, there is a section of National Highway which the Spanish planted trees mor then 400 years ago and today those trees are huge. A great lens. Thank you for sharing.

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @mrbill7474: Thanks so much for stopping by! This place is really amazing and was actually short listed Canada's Top Wonders. We are very fortunate to be living here. We are originally from the prairies and moved to the island many years ago because of passion for trees, mountains and water. :-)

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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @shellys-space: Thanks so much for visiting and leaving such a wonderful comment!

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 4 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      It would be wonderful to visit the Vancouver Island someday! Thanks for sharing these amazing forest pictures!

    • mrbill7474 profile image

      mrbill7474 4 years ago

      Great pictures, great storytelling...great lens! I live in Missouri, and we don't have trees like that around here. You're soooo lucky to be soooo close! :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @othellos: Thanks so much for visiting. Yes, I agree this place is amazing and I am sure if you visiting you wouldn't be sorry. :-)

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      othellos 4 years ago

      That's a nice place to set as a goal visit in my whish list. Incredible place and your photos are excellent. Thank you for publishing this lens. It was an enjoyable read.

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @Lorelei Cohen: They really are amazing trees. While being in the old-growth forest everything is so peaceful. It is healing place. Thank you so much for the comment on my photos. It's hard to get a real perspective of the enormous size of these giant trees with a camera. Thanks so much for visiting my page. :-)

    • Judith Nazarewicz profile image
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      Judith Nazarewicz 4 years ago from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

      @Coffee-Break: It's an amazing place, I intended on only visiting it for a couple hours but it turned into the whole day. Time seems to stand still when you are in the forest. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I would love to visit the giant forests of Vancouver one day. They are so amazing. I love all your photographs and especially the one of the family standing within the well of the tree. These giant trees really make you feel so protective of nature. May they always be safe.

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      Dorian Bodnariuc 4 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      Wow! What a beautiful place. Maybe I'll visit Cathedral Grove Forest sometime. It's only a few hours by plane.