Biggest, oldest trees in WV are at this state park

At 133-acres, Cathedral State Park might be small, but it’s home to some of the biggest trees in the state. Filled with eastern hemlocks that are older than the state of West Virginia, this old-growth forest serves as a sanctuary for nature and nature lovers alike.

Aside from hiking, there’s not much to do here at Cathedral State Park, and that’s kind of the point. Take a stroll through this ancient forest and discover what’s it’s like to walk through the “Redwoods of the East.” Here’s everything you need to know about Cathedral.

Cathedral State Park has virgin hemlock trees

Wondering what that means or why it’s a big deal? Virgin hemlocks are old trees that have survived centuries or more without significant disturbance. While West Virginia is the fifth most forested state in the country, there was a time when the state was nearly deforested. Because of this, there are few tracts of virgin timber in the state, which makes Cathedral that much more special.

But age and height isn’t the only reason the trees at this park is significant. While the eastern hemlocks at Cathedral reach heights of of 90 feet and have circumferences of 16 or more feet, it’s what’s on the forest floor that truly stands out.

The biodiversity at Cathedral State Park is off the charts

Old-growth forests are known for their biodiversity. Because the forest hasn’t been disturbed, there are usually felled and standing dead trees, which contributes to the health of undergrowth. Fallen timber enriches the soil and leads to new growth, including moss, fungi and even seedling trees.

Cathedral is no different. This park is home to more than 170 species of plants, including nine different types of fern, three mosses, 30 trees and more than 50 wildflowers. For a 133-acre park, that’s impressive and you have to see it to believe it.

Cathedral State Park has three miles of trails where you can hike under the tree canopy

The trails at Cathedral State Park are a nature-lovers delight. Take a hike under the giant trees as you walk across footbridges on the Cathedral Trail or look for wildlife on the Partridge Berry or Cardinal trails. All are fairly short and easy to moderate, so most hikers can enjoy the park’s six trails in a single day.

Whether you hike all of Cathedral’s trails or just one, make sure you take a trek on the Giant Hemlock Trail to see some of the largest trees in the park.

Cathedral State Park is a National Natural Landmark

In 1966, the National Park Service added Cathedral State Park to a National Registry of Natural Landmarks, a designation that recognizes and encourages conservation of outstanding biological and geological features in the United States.

If you’re planning an overnight trip, you can find lodging, cabins and camping nearby at Blackwater Falls State Park.

Be inspired by these towering hemlock trees by visiting Cathedral State Park. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Plan a trip

    Cathedral is beautiful in every season.

  2. Book your stay

    If you’re planning an overnight trip, you can find lodging, cabins and camping nearby at Blackwater Falls State Park.

  3. Make memories that last a lifetime

    Cathedral is a special place where you can enjoy quality time in nature by yourself or with a loved one.

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