This preserve holds the some of the very last old growth white pines in Michigan and is one of the last virgin stands of trees in the Midwest. Some of these trees are around 600 years old!
If you can see it, this tree started growing around 1500 and was cut down in 1970.
Walking into the preserve was like stepping back in time. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that the whole Upper Peninsula of Michigan was once like this, never been logged and pristine. The hike became more surreal as we came up on the first remnant of an old tree. This tree seemed to have died naturally and was now standing, hollow and weather worn, in the middle of the path.
My silly lab Molly sitting by the dead tree.
You can look up all the way through the tree to the sky above.
Farther into the woods, we came upon the giant trees. The map we'd gotten from the campground guide named this part as "Cathedral Grove" and it was aptly named because they towered over us. It was impossible to walk and crane your neck up to look at them so we did a lot of starting and stopping, my dad holding onto his hat to keep it from falling off as we looked up.
I couldn't help but hug one of them. It also served the purpose of showing how MASSIVE these trees are!
We went on the second trail and found more of the giant pines but a bit rockier path and had to maneuver up and down some of the hills. The paths are all pretty well worn, but it is rather hill-y in parts. The dog, of course, had an excellent time and ran around smelling everything.
It was crazy to see trees this big. And, of course, my inner plant nerd and nature lover was geeking out over the history of these gorgeous pines. This forest is also considered a boreal forest and isn't quite as lush as some of the forests to the south. The soil is thin and sits right on top of bedrock, so there's less nutrients here than elsewhere.
It was a pretty eye-opening hike. And if you're thinking about a vacation for next summer and you love the outdoors, I'd definitely check out Copper Harbor, Michigan. (Or any part of Upper Michigan for that matter!)
If you want to learn more about the pines, here's a link for the page on the Keweenaw Traveler website.