Adventures to Amazing Places

Varied thrush.
Author: Curtis Rispin

On May 2, 2017, Ryan, Carson, Haley, Larissa, Lauren, Kidston and I adventured into the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region to check out some of the Amazing Places. Our first stop was at MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) where we wandered through the ancient grove of moss and lichen draped Douglas-fir, Western red-cedar, Western hemlock, and a variety of other species such as Yew, bigleaf maple, and Western flowering dogwood.

This time of year is great to visit the coastal forests of the biosphere, with spring flowers, including Western Trillium and false-lily-of-the-valley, coming back to life with the return of the sun and warmer temperatures. On this particular morning at MacMillan Provincial Park, we were lucky to be greeted with the sunshine and accompanied by the songs of Pacific Wrens, Varied Thrush’s, Steller’s Jays, American Robin’s, Common Ravens, Brown Creepers, chirps of Red Squirrels, and the drumming of a Downy Woodpecker inspecting the rotting trees on our leisurely stroll through the well-worn trails of this magnificent provincial park.

A visit to Cathedral Grove isn’t complete without stopping to check out the “Big Tree”, a 76m tall Douglas-fir that’s estimated to be about 850 years old.  Similarly to the millions of tourists before us, we stopped and admired the enormous tree before moving to the north side of the highway where the trails continue. This side brought us to a lookout over Cameron Lake, another one of the 10 Amazing Places designated in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.

Cameron Lake is a beautiful mountain lake, fed by the cool glacial waters of the Cameron River. The lake is great for fishing, canoeing, windsurfing, boating, picnicking, and, when the temperatures warm up, swimming in the crystal clear waters.

Access to Cameron Lake can be found at the south end of the lake where there’s a day use area, including a public beach, picnic tables, and a parking lot. For a more private spot, check out the Beaufort Area a short distance down the highway. If you’re feeling adventurous, hike along the Arrowsmith CPR Regional Trail or check out the views from the train trestle nestled along the slopes of the mountainside, accessed from the gravel pullout before reaching Cameron Lake.  

Adventure Tips:

  • Early mornings are a great time to wander through the trails of Cathedral Grove, with the birds serenading you and the crowds at a minimum; Cameron Lake is also calmer during the morning and offers great photos of mountain reflections before the afternoon winds pick up.

  • If you don’t own a boat or canoe, fishing at the mouth of the Cameron River offers the possibility of landing rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout. If you have a canoe or boat, the small bay alongside Cathedral Grove (north end of the lake) offers calm waters and serene, quiet fishing or paddling amongst the old growth forests.

  • Stargazing at Cameron Lake is great if you’re looking to get away from the city lights. Check out the Perseids Meteor Shower in August with a chance of seeing up to 60 meteors per hour.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for “Cammie” the Cameron Lake creature that lurks the depths of the lake!