Sometimes the best travel finds are those easily overlooked. Take the Ancient Forest Trail, for example. The big sign on Highway16 between Prince George and McBride, BC stands stalwart. We’ve driven by many times, but with miles behind us and many more ahead, we felt a need to get out and stretch our legs.
Slow Start, Big Rewards
The parking lot, overgrown and looking little more than an old gravel pit, is not immediately inspiring. We scan the introductory signage and trail/boardwalk sponsor list and then catch our breath as we head uphill to find Big Tree. Flowering thimbleberry plants quickly give way to Devil’s Club. Scrubby alder disappears in the shadows of ancient cedar trees. Interpretive signs dot the trail, offering snippets of natural history. Bits of boardwalk turn into a steady chain of wooden planks as we climb up into the land of giants.
Naming the Giants
Big Tree measures 5 metres (16 feet) in diameter. It measures its age in millennia. This massive Western Red Cedar is estimated to be several thousand years old. Dubbed Treebeard by local hikers, one of the giants shares its moniker with a character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. Perhaps the most important tree is Radies Tree. It’s not the biggest or the most unusual; it’s just an old giant named in honour of one Dave Radies.
In 2005, the graduate student was studying old growth forests. Radies discovered markings on a few of the cedars and learned that the area was to be logged. He spread the word. One year later, the Ancient Forest Trail was built. In 2008, logging plans were cancelled. Thanks D.R.
Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods
and listen to the magic whispers of old trees.