Victoria Region's Heritage Grove Trees Rival B.C.'s Biggest, Tallest

   Fattest tree in Heritage Grove, Francis/King Park, Diameter: 3 metres (9.9 ft)
Like a lot of people, I am driving much less than I used to. I don't get out into the back country like I used to before a tank of gas required a small loan. That makes local tree sites like Francis/King Regional Park all the more appreciated.

This beautifully forested park, one of my favourites, is home to a grove of some of the most impressive old growth Douglas-fir in the region, rivaling those of the more well known Cathedral Grove trees. You may not hear as much about it, but this humble grove of giants contains some notable specimens.

Fattest tree has little taper
Francis/King Park's Heritage Grove is close to town and easy to access (not wheelchair accessible). Once in the forest you will find many connecting trails, some without signage. Consulting the park map is essential.

To experience the majesty of Heritage Grove, walk directly from the parking lot down the driveway to Munn Road and carefully cross the road. Turn right onto the horse trail in front of the gate, and walk for a couple of minutes until you come to the next gate. Pass through it, and you are not far from some of the oldest and most impressive known Douglas-fir on Vancouver Island.

Crown far above
Just before the trail descends down a slope and crosses a small seasonal creek, you will find, on the right, the thickest Douglas-fir in the grove. This tree measures an impressive 3 metres (9.9 ft) in diameter. It has a circumference of 9.45 metres (31 ft), and is the 13th largest known Douglas-fir in British Columbia according to the Big Tree Registry.

The fat trunk rises, limb-free and with little taper, to the crown of twisted, lichen-covered branches topping out at 41 metres (135 ft) in height.

Looking across creek to tallest tree
in Heritage Grove

Continue hiking past the creek and you will find the tallest Douglas-fir in the Heritage Grove at the Centennial Trail junction. The ancient giant measures 74.7 metres (245 ft) and is over 500 years old.

Not only is this the tallest Douglas-fir in the Victoria region, its great height makes it the 5th tallest known Douglas-fir in British Columbia, slightly taller than the Red Creek Fir (73.80 m).

Tallest tree in Heritage Grove, 74.7 metres (245 ft)
Thanks to Thomas Francis generously donating this land, these impressive trees, and others in the park, provide a coastal douglas-fir forest experience close to the city, and unique in the province.

Getting There 

Follow the Trans-Canada Highway from Victoria, and take the Helmcken Road exit. Turn left on Burnside Road West, then right on Prospect Lake Road. Turn left on Munn Road, which leads to the park entrance on the right. Allow approximately 20 minutes driving time from Victoria.

Click to enlarge park map
Heritage grove is just across the road from the parking lot. Enjoy!


  1. Fantastic photos Gregg, I really like that last picture, it gives you a real sense of scale and perspective.
    In my city of Portland, Ore we still have at least one 242 foot tall fir tree in a canyon just a few minutes walk from the Industrial sector of the city. On my pilgrimage to it last month, I measured it. it's almost 6 feet thick and just extends to the sky like a regal weed, and it is situated at the floor of the valley only 12 feet from the little creek. 250 footers were once as common as the salmon which swam in these creeks--before the industrial logging era butchered them with fierce precision.

    So now days a 245 ft tree is the 5th tallest documented fir in B.C..? That's a real kick to the gut. And the greater travesty is that the 300+ footers of yesteryear are slowly transforming into the legends of tomorrow, fading from public consciousness like the Dinosaur, or the Bison of old.

    I literally have to inform PhD Foresters now days in forums that yes, Douglas fir over 300 feet tall actually existed, and at one time in great numbers. It's amazing how forgetful even the scientific community can become when the biggest and tallest of a certain species is totally wiped out.


  2. Hey Micah,

    I lived in Eugene for two years when I was a kid. Oregon is where I first became interested in the big trees and the coastal forest. It is a beautiful place.

    Your canyon tree sounds amazing. These old holdouts are all that is left from the historical forest. I am amazed that they have survived the 150 years of greed and ignorance that continues to this day.

    Yes, the tree shown is the 5th tallest documented tree when compared to those on BC's Big Tree Registry. The registry lists trees according to total AFA points, and this tree does not make the cut in that regard, so is not on the list despite its great height. But its dimensions are publicized.

    The condition of our forests is truly a sad situation, and more so when people don't understand what has been taken from us. Here in BC the war on old growth continues unabated. In Canada's boreal forest virtually 100% of logging is old growth.

    Our ancient forests are being sacrificed for ultra soft toilet paper and single use products like paper coffee cups that are used for 10 minutes then thrown out.

    This is the kind of madness that has to stop. This is the kind of madness that has spurred the largest mass protest in global history.

    We have seen that industry will not stop cutting old growth until it is all gone. Our elected officials have shown that they will not respect our wishes and do the right thing. It is up to the us.

    Thanks for your comment, Micah. Always good to hear from you.

  3. Hey Gregg,
    You're welcome.
    Yeah it's amazing anything that tall still exists near Victoria, or even Portland. Eugene is a cool place, the people are pretty informed who live there. Just east of Eugene is a seldom explored grove of 300-320+ foot firs I wanna try and trek out to some time, once I get a car. They haven't been measured since the 80's so they could be the tallest in Oregon--assuming they haven't been sliced!

    There was a recent story in the Oregonian about the destruction of old growth in that state: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/10/analysis_of_a_pre-existing_con.html

    Although, I feel the estimates in the story are way too conservative.

    I never understood the concept of ultra soft TP, it's so rediculous--when you're hiking in the woods leaves will suffice, just don't grab the poison oak! They should start mandating that you bring your own coffee mugs to Starbucks.

    Take Care

  4. Anonymous28/5/12

    That tree is 64.7 metres tall- I measured it pretty accurately.

    In a ravine east of Durrance Lake, near where I live, in Victoria, there is a grove of up to 71.6 metre tall trees (Durrance Creek Ravine). Watch out to explore though, because sometimes the army does live ammunition firing practice.

    In Goldstream however, the cedars reach 72 metres, and the tallest douglas-fir is 82 metres!

    There are many many 70+ metre tall trees in Goldstream, especially off the highway.

    In East Strathcona Park, there is supposed to be places (little explored) with trees to 93 metres high.

    John Dean Provincial Park, near Victoria, has a tree 70.4 metres high near ythe pond on the Misty Vale trail.
    Gowlland Todd's highest is 70.1 metres, near the waterfall off the Cascades Trail.

    These are Victoria's tallest trees (besides Strathcona Park).
    There are many runners up in these parks, (69.9 metres, John Dean, etc.)


    1. Sam,

      Wow! What a great list. When I first started this blog I hoped that individuals like yourself would share some of their big tree knowledge.

      I don't measure tree sizes, but instead rely on published measurements. Usually, though, published information is unreliable, or non-existent.

      That is what makes your first hand accounts so valuable. Your suggestions, including some I have had my eye on for a while, will be keeping me busy this summer.

      Thank you so much for sharing.


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