Vancouver Island Bucket List - What to do on Vancouver Island
VANCOUVER ISLAND - Where to Next?
Cathedral Grove Vancouver Island

Cathedral Grove

walk icon
View point icon
big tree icon
Activity:
Walk, Tourism Stop
Difficulty:
Easy
Location:
Port Alberni
Time:
45 min
Distance:
2.2km (1.3mi)

Activity:

walk icon
View point icon
big tree icon

Accessibility:

Family access icon
All ages elderly Icon
wheelchair access icon

Highlights Include:

Info Map

Cathedral Grove is a “can’t miss” stop on the way to Tofino!

Where to this weekend, Vancouver Island: What You Need to Know About Visiting Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

It is like stepping into another world. Located on the Alberni Highway (4) between Parksville and Port Alberni, this is a must-stop spot on your way to Tofino! The pristine beauty and diversity bring in more than 500,000 visitors per year.

The two trails that make up Cathedral Grove are located within MacMillian Park in central Vancouver Island, 25 km west of Qualicum Beach and 16 km east of Port Alberni along Highway 4, which runs right through the park. 

Gorgeous walking trails and spectacular 800 year old trees greet you at this international attraction. Visitors can also examine the fallen trees from the violent windstorm of 1997. Still incredible, these trees give a true sense of the size and magnitude of the growth within the park – and continue to provide nutrients to the soil for the next generations of plants.

H.R. MacMillian, a well-known forester, donated 136 hectares of land in 1944, he foresaw the need to preserve this land for the perpetual enjoyment of generations to come. Just three years later, the area was established as a Class A provincial park.

How to Get to Cathedral Grove

Your options are Tour Group or Car as there is no public transportation.
Located 16km East of Port Alberni and 25km West of Qualicum Beach on Hwy #4. Google Maps Link

Tips and Suggestions

Parking is available on either side of the road but is limited. There is a barricade in the center of the road.

Smoking is prohibited in McMillan Provincial Park

Biking is allowed on roads only, not park trails.

Dogs are allowed on a leash

Toilets are available on both sides of the road.

Cathedral Grove Trail Map

DISCOVER MORE
the best spots directly in your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Cathedral Grove?
Cathedral Grove is a popular tourist stop with two walking trails located within MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.

How Long Does it take to walk through Cathedral Grove?
Expect to take 45 minutes to complete bot trails. Each trail takes about 20 minutes, depending on how interactive you want to get.

How tall is the tallest tree in Cathedral Grove?
Over 800 years old, the tallest tree in MacMillan Provincial Park is a Douglas Fir measuring 72 meters or 236 feet and 9 meters in circumference.

Can I bring my Dog to Cathedral Grove?
Pets are allowed but must remain on a leash.

How much does it cost to walk in Cathedral Grove?
There are no entrance fees for MacMillan Provincial Par or Cathedral Grove.

41
Explore Vancouver Island's magnificent scenery on a full-day, private tour from Victoria to Englishman River Falls, Little Qu...
Riverbend Cave Explorer
Illuminate the shimmering crystals of Riverbend Cave on this small-group adventure. For those who want to explore a cave with...
caving e1
Explore the marble passages and crystal caverns created by the ‘Ice Age’ on this guided, 3-hour caving and hiking expedition....

North Old Growth Trail - Cathedral Grove

Highway 4 splits the north and south trails within the park. On the north trail, you will find vast groves of ancient Western Red Cedar Trees guarding nearby Cameron Lake. A clearly marked straightforward trail includes a beautifully renovated boardwalk system. The north route will keep you busy for about 1.2 km and can be comfortably accessed by wheelchairs.

Cathedral Grove Vancouver Island

The walk is an easy one, and this is where you can experience the aftermath of the 1997 windstorm up close. You’ll see many large fallen trees with younger trees taking advantage of the rich soil, springing up ready for the next hundred years. Stick to the trail and you will come across access points that allow you to access the Cameron River and a few fallen giants.

"Definitely, a place you’ll want on your bucket list if you’re in the area. There are lots of places where you can climb logs and touch trees as well as take pictures and access the creek without going off the path. They put a lot of effort into making the forest accessible without disturbing the beautiful scenery."

41
Explore Vancouver Island's magnificent scenery on a full-day, private tour fr...
Riverbend Cave Explorer
Illuminate the shimmering crystals of Riverbend Cave on this small-group adve...
caving e1
Explore the marble passages and crystal caverns created by the ‘Ice Age’ on t...

South Big Tree and Living Forest Trail - Cathedral Grove

After the ease of the North Trail, you may notice that when you cross the highway to access the south trail, things become slightly more challenging. Although flat and still allows for easy access, the South Trail consists of a 1-kilometre dirt trail. You’ll want to be prepped with appropriate footwear as it can often be muddy and wet. Even on dry days, this side of the park can be a little more tricky to access for individuals with mobility concerns. The path includes exposed roots and fallen trees, particularly in the “Living Forest” section of the trail. 

This trail can be a little more hands-on, as you’ll have a chance to climb logs, touch trees, and take some Instagram-worthy pictures. The oldest of the enormous growth is well over 800 years old, but the majority of the trees here are approximately 300 years old – the young growth after a major fire. 

Get out your measuring tape! The granddaddy Douglas Firs can measure as much as nine metres in circumference! These amazing views will keep you walking to the refreshing shade of the deciduous trees lining the Cameron River – the perfect photo stop. 

Make your way to the superstar of the hike. Follow “Big Tree Trail” right up to the largest Douglas Fir around. At 72 metres (236 feet) tall, this big fella stands higher than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

DISCOVER MORE
the best spots directly in your inbox

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Add it to The List: Nanaimo to Tofino

Vancouver Island offers a lifetime of experiences. Highway 4 is a popular route for visitors is Nanaimo to Tofino.  Cathedral Grove is a great addition to our list we’ve compiled of some of our favourite stops heading to Tofino from Nanaimo.

Beaches:

Blueback Beach: A lesser-known beach that offers beautiful sand beaches. Be prepared for a long staircase to gain access but it’s worth it at low tide.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park: A popular park to visit. When the tide is out, the cove turns into a wonderful 1km of sand to walk along.

Waterfalls:

Englishman River Falls: Just a short easy walk from the parking lot is a dramatic waterfall worth visiting.
Little Qualicum Falls: Ony 15 minutes from Cathedral Grove, Little Qualicum Falls offers a great 2km hike along the canyon, reaching lower and upper Qualicum Falls.
Hole In The Wall: This spot is a little more off-grid. This unique stop can be found on the edge of Port Alberni. Not much for a waterfall, but you will find a large hole in a large wall.

Other Stops Along the Way:

Coombs: Probably already on your list as this is a popular stop known for having goats on the roof.
Sproat Lake Provincial Park Petroglyphs: A short trail from the parking lot, you will find ancient petroglyphs barely visible carved into the stone cliff along Sproat Lake.
Taylor River Rest Area: Beautiful blue-green river with a rope swing. Washrooms, charging stations, and picnic tables make this a great stop.

Gear Tips For Vancouver Island

THE NORTH FACE women's waterproof antora jacket sq
THE NORTH FACE Women's
Waterproof Antora Jacket
North face mens antora Rain Hoodie black sq
THE NORTH FACE Men's
Antora Rain Hoodie
Helly Hansen Mens seven J waterproof rain coat sq
Helly Hansen Men's
Breathable Rain Coat
Polygon 32 oz waterbottle sq
32oz Water Bottle
for Fitness and Outdoor
Osprey Sportlite 20 Hiking Backpack sq
Osprey Sportlite 20
Hiking Backpack
adventure first aid kit
Adventure Medical Kit
Ultralight and Watertight

When you’re gearing up for an outdoor adventure on Vancouver Island, the key is to dress in layers, no matter the season. The island’s weather can throw curveballs, with conditions varying significantly from the sheltered forests to the breezy coastlines.

For those cool winter escapades, your go-to should include quality rain gear, topped off with a cozy beanie or toque, and a pair of light gloves to keep the chill at bay.

Summer explorers, don’t be fooled by the warmer temps; that same waterproof shell that kept you dry in the winter will be your best friend against the cool ocean breezes.

Remember, the right clothing and gear can make or break your outdoor experience on Vancouver Island, ensuring you enjoy every moment, come rain or shine.

Photo Gallery:

Vancouver Island Guides & Maps
snorkelling Adventures Vancouver Island
Snorkelling Adventures Around Vancouver Island
lonely planet
Vancouver & Victoria - Lonely Planet
adventure road map
Vancouver Island Folded Map
Back road maps
Backroad Map - Vancouver Island

Discover new places and find your way around Vancouver Island. Many areas do not have cell service so maps and guidebooks can be very helpful for the curious.

FAQ:

What is Cathedral Grove?
Cathedral Grove is a popular tourist stop with two walking trails located within MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.

How Long Does it take to walk through Cathedral Grove?
Expect to take 45 minutes to complete bot trails. Each trail takes about 20 minutes, depending on how interactive you want to get.

How tall is the tallest tree in Cathedral Grove?
Over 800 years old, the tallest tree in MacMillan Provincial Park is a Douglas Fir measuring 72 meters or 236 feet and 9 meters in circumference.

Can I bring my Dog to Cathedral Grove?
Pets are allowed but must remain on a leash.

How much does it cost to walk in Cathedral Grove?
There are no entrance fees for MacMillan Provincial Par or Cathedral Grove.

Experience The Area
Hole in the Wall - Image
Hiking Icon

Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall is a unique man-made hole cut into the shale rock cliff along a river just outside Port Alberni
Two older adults sitting on a wooden bench overlooking a vast sandy beach at low tide Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville with mountains in the distance and driftwood in the foreground.
Beach Icon
playground
Picnic Icon

Rathtrevor Beach...

A fascinating tidal beach in Parksville, Rathtrevor Beach on Vancouver Island is the perfect place to enjoy low tide on a large sandy beach.
A first-person view of a hiker's feet standing on the edge of a narrow, deep crevice in the ground. Located at the Abyss in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The image shows one foot on slightly over the gap, which is lined with moss and contrasts with the rough, textured surface of the rock. The perspective emphasizes the depth and darkness of the crevice below.
Hiking Icon

The Abyss Nanaimo

Experience The Abyss in Nanaimo, a captivating fracture in the earth’s crust. Enjoy scenic vistas of Gabriola Island and Nanaimo on this hike.
Riverbend Cave Explorer
Illuminate the shimmering crystals of Riverbend Cave on this small-group adventure. For those who want to explore a cave with...
caving e1
Explore the marble passages and crystal caverns created by the ‘Ice Age’ on this guided, 3-hour caving and hiking expedition....
41
Explore Vancouver Island's magnificent scenery on a full-day, private tour from Victoria to Englishman River Falls, Little Qu...

Did we miss something?
Have more to add?

Original Author:

Modified: January 2, 2024
Last Visit: July 14, 2022

Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

Where to Next?

Join Our Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Includes lesser known hikes, stories & more

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Pack Out:
We love Vancouver Island and want to keep the natural beauty. Please respect the places you visit and pack out what you pack in and leave the area better than when you arrived. We all know how much trash can spoil an experience and the environment, so please help us keep it clean!

Wildlife:
Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

Tide and Seasonal Safety:
Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey! Click here for the tides in your area. 

Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.

Land Acknowledgement:
We would like to acknowledge the land we appreciate daily within the 50 First Nations that make up the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island .

Disclaimer:
The information on this website should not be taken as accurate, complete or up-to-date. Please check and look into the information yourself. We do not assume any liabilities for the use of this information. It is unreasonable to rely solely upon the information from this website. 

Submit a change suggestion:

max of 4 images
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email