How to Explore & Hike Avatar Grove Old-Growth Forest

How to Explore & Hike Avatar Grove Old-Growth Forest

Eco Experience

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COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT is having a direct socioeconomic impact on the community by diversifying, donating, or employing locals. Community Empowerment grows community leaders, is change leading, bold, and entrepreneurial.

ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP is protecting the environment for those after you by implementing conservation and sustainable practices. It is committing to the protection and responsible use of the surroundings for future enjoyment.

ECOLOGICAL CONNECTION is immersion and engagement with land, water, flora or fauna in the environment. This is disconnecting to reconnect all while being responsible and conscious of the impact that is being made.

CROSS-CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT is having a direct interaction with the culture you are visiting. You are learning from them, whether it be textile skills, about their history, or staying with a local family in a homestay. Cross-cultural engagement with another culture will have a lasting impact long after a trip.

As we veered down the gravel road and single-lane bridges from Port Renfrew, a small and quaint village on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we approached the trailhead and found that something was different from the last time we were here. A new wooden sign read:

“T ‘ L ‘ O Q WXWAT

As the sign indicated, we had arrived at Avatar Grove, an ancient and old-growth forest on Vancouver Island. No longer did we need to be on the lookout for other parked cars and orange tape to find the mysterious trailhead. A beautiful new cedar boardwalk had been constructed by the Ancient Forest Alliance to protect the tree roots, make it more accessible and enjoyable, and create more awareness of this special place.

Two sections of forest are in the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation and both tell a different multi-century story of what the entire island once looked like. Each forest is situated on either side of the road and comprised of Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and red cedars ranging from 500 to 1,000 years old.

Awareness has been brought to one of Vancouver Island’s last remaining old growth forests in an effort to protect it and draw in sustainable tourism, connecting visitors with the ecology of the region. By creating a demand for this experience, pressure to protect and preserve it increases and the area can then be left for future generations to enjoy.

With rain dripping from the canopy above and overwhelming smells of fresh forest air, Avatar Grove will make you wish you could live amongst these survivors. A mist hanging in the forest definitely reinforces the term “rainforest”. In the distance, moving water can be heard – this is Gordon River, one of many salmon spawning freshwater streams in the area. Ferns, branches and leaves are dripping with water and the birds can be found hiding amongst them. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a bald eagle, but then again, that’s pretty much a guarantee once you step foot on Vancouver Island.

The north-west boardwalk (the side with the Avatar Grove sign), will take you to ‘Canada’s Gnarliest Tree,’ an ancient red cedar that is 14 feet wide at the base with a 10-foot wide burl. These burls can only be found in old-growth forests. Avatar Grove may ignite the inner tree-hugger in you, but that’s okay – take it in! There are not many places like this left in the world and it’s important to take it slow and enjoy the journey.

Rain or shine, this is an eco-experience in British Columbia, Canada that few have explored. While on the trail, we met a couple from Switzerland – they had travelled to Canada, heard about this special place and made the trek from nearby Sooke. They described its unworldly traits like nothing they’d seen in their own country.

After witnessing ‘the world’s largest red cedar,’ we made our way across the road to the other side of Avatar Grove. The boardwalk here winds around a massive Douglas fir trees while streams gush below. Each tree is different from the last – some splitting from one into two, others fallen with new ones sprouting out of them. This is one of the most beautiful forests you’ll step foot in and it brings a whole new meaning to the wellness term ‘forest bathing.’

Avatar Gove is two hours (120 kilometers) from Victoria but if you truly want to experience the Port Renfrew area, stay a night or two in the village and experience the many beaches and hikes in the area.


Click here for a downloadable map of Avatar Grove & Port Renfrew courtesy of the Ancient Rainforest Alliance.

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Author: Eco Escape Travel | Date: May 16, 2017

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