From the top of the valley on Vancouver Island’s western coast, this lanky old tree doesn’t look all that grand. But don’t be fooled: It is a lonely giant.
Big Lonely Doug—named after its species, the Douglas fir—stands tall among a clearing, a solitary specimen surrounded by stumps and logging debris. It soars about 230 feet high and its trunk is as big as a living room. Local conservationists estimate it to be between 750 and 1,200 years old.
Despite the region’s booming logging industry (a staggering 99 percent of the old-growth Douglas firs in British Colombia have been cut down) a logger spared Big Lonely Doug from being felled in 2012. No one is quite sure why this particular mature tree was saved. It turns out it is the second-largest Douglas fir in Canada.
Big Lonely Doug still stands tall, now a sad but majestic symbol of the disappearing old-growth forests of British Colombia, and the ongoing fight to save them.
Know Before You Go
The access roads toward the valley are logging roads, so they are very bumpy and rocky. Do not attempt the last few kilometers with your own car (or a rental car). Unless you're in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, park nearby after the bridge over the Gordon River and walk the 1.5 km to the Lonely Doug.