Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park

Breathe in the fresh air and experience the unforgettable sight of some the oldest and tallest trees in Canada.

Cathedral Grove - MacMillan Provincial park is a BC Provincial Park preserving a section of lush old-growth forest unique to Vancouver Island. The park’s name will make perfect sense when you see sunlight filtering through the soaring 80-meter-high canopy.

Plan to spend a few hours wandering Cathedral Grove's trail system and gazing up at 800-year-old giant Douglas Fir, Grand Firs, Western Hemlocks, and Western Red Cedar trees. Cathedral Grove will give you a sense of what Vancouver Island and the west coast looked like before the arrival of European settlers. Here’s a guide to help you plan a day in the park:

Group walking on trail through Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park
Walking Among Giants in Cathedral Grove

Getting to The Park & Parking

Cathedral Grove - MacMillan Provincial Park is located at the western end of Cameron Lake, only minutes from Qualicum Beach and Parksville on Highway 4, just beyond Coombs. Parking is free, but space may become limited during peak visitation in the summer and on weekends. There is no dedicated RV parking, so to ensure a space, RV drivers may wish to visit during off-peak times.

What To Look For On The Trails

Widest Tree In The Park

To see the oldest and largest trees in the park, take the trails on the south side of the highway. When you walk the Big Tree Trail, keep an eye out for the widest tree in the park, a Douglas Fir with a 9-meter circumference!

Cameron Lake

Use the trails on the north side of the highway to connect with Cameron Lake, where groves of Western Red Cedar stand tall, their reflections shimmering in the water. Cameron Lake is a favourite spot for swimming and fishing.

Birds & Wildlife

Depending on the season, keep an eye out for local wildlife, including deer, elk, black bears, woodpeckers, and owls. You can learn more about the park’s unique ecosystem and wildlife here.

Park History

Indigenous cultures have a long history of stewarding the land in Cathedral Grove - MacMillan park. These trees provided indigenous people including the K’ómoks, Tseshaht, and Te’mexw, with raw materials to support their shelter, transportation, clothing, and tools.

When Europeans settled on Vancouver Island, the land came to be owned by logging companies. Governor General Viscount Willingdon is credited with bestowing the name “Cathedral Grove” on the park in the 1920s, and even then, it was already a popular destination for tourists. For many years, the public petitioned the government unsuccessfully to preserve and protect the land for future generations. In 1944, a forester named H.R MacMillan donated 136 hectares and this site was formally dedicated as a Class A Provincial Park three years later.

Park Amenities & Accessibility

You can access the park’s trail networks from the main parking area. The trails are relatively flat and wide, making it easy to walk and hike, and some trails are accessible. There are accessible pit toilets available near the parking area. You can learn more about all the park’s amenities on the official website.

To protect the delicate local ecosystem, guests should stay on designated trails at all times. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore with you. All guests should be alert for falling branches or trees, especially on windy days. For more outdoor safety guidelines and planning tips, view the helpful resources on AdventureSmart.

Download & View Park Map

For a park map and brochure, click here.


Safety First

No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to help you get informed before heading outdoors.

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Discover a working fish hatchery and explore shady riverside trails under the tree canopy. Image: @west.coast.hiking

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