Mighty, ancient trees cover this Vancouver Island park, which offers walking trails, open-water swimming and the chance to spot wildlife.
Explore MacMillan Provincial Park, a beautiful woodland landscape that stretches across 743 acres (301 hectares) of Victoria Island. The walking trails here lead past some of the oldest trees in the region to reach the shores of a glistening lake.
The woods in the park were part of First Nations territory many centuries ago. The area became a provincial park when the wealthy forester H.R. MacMillan donated land to the public in 1944. Survey the ancient trees that grow here to get a better sense of the history of the place.
The park is most famous for Cathedral Grove, a woodland dominated by towering Douglas firs. Some of the trees in the grove are more than 800 years old and stretch for 250 feet (75 meters) into the air. Walk beneath their formidable branches, looking up into the dense canopy above. The biggest tree in the park has a circumference of over 30 feet (9 meters).
Look for red cedars that have had their bark stripped on one side. These trees have been used for ceremonial purposes by the First Nations people who were the protectors of this forest for generations.
Find the stump of a felled tree and count the rings to determine its age. Wander the routes that wind through the park, keeping alert for wildlife that lives on the island. Elk, black bears and owls are just a few of the animals that inhabit this woodland terrain.
Follow the trails on the northern side of the park to reach the shores of Cameron Lake. Go for a swim in the clear waters or fish for trout in this serene setting. Bring lunch to the park to enjoy a meal at one of the picnic spots. Relax beneath the shade of the giant trees as you eat.
MacMillan Provincial Park is a 50-minute drive from Nanaimo and just over 2 hours from Victoria. Leave your car in the parking lot and wander the park on foot, making sure to stay on the set routes.