Cathedral Grove in Macmillan Provincial Park is a must-see destination for anyone travelling to or from the Tofino and Uclulet area. Just a few minutes west of Coombs the road passes by the beautiful Cameron Lake just before arriving at the Cathedral Grove parking area, where there are washrooms and access to a short loop trail on either side of the highway. Parking is sometimes an issue here; the parking lots are small, and it can get quite busy during summer. In addition, there is no designated crosswalk, so visitors should be extremely careful when crossing the highway. Plans to build a larger parking lot were met with strong opposition from environmental groups, and development was ultimately prevented from going forward in order to protect the area's valuable and unique ecosystem. The forest is already experiencing high volumes of foot traffic and significant environmental impacts, so please respect the rules and stay on the trails.
As far as old-growth goes, the monster Douglas fir and western redcedar trees here are as impressive as anything you'll find north of the redwoods in California. Signage along the trails educates visitors about various plant and animal species in the area, the history of the forestry industry, the complex functions of an old-growth forest ecosystem, as well as the value and historical significance of the trees to First Nations cultures. The crown jewel of Cathedral Grove is known simply as the "Big Tree." Measuring 76 meters high and 9 meters around, the 800-year-old specimen is truly a sight to behold. It's no surprise to anyone who has visited that Cathedral Grove was ranked as the top forest walk on the entire island by Tourism Vancouver Island.
Even though the two trails are quite short, it would not be difficult to spend the majority of an afternoon admiring the trees, snapping a few photos, and learning about the forest. However, Cathedral Grove is also a great place for a quick highway pit stop to stretch the legs while traveling across the island.
Note that it is best to avoid this hike during high winds as there is a possibility of falling trees.