The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has no shortage of trees. But biologist Nicole Shutt says a grouping of Hemlocks near the town of Lakewood stands above the rest.
"It's a good representation of what the Northwoods use to look like" Shutt told Newsline 9.
Shutt is an expert on the biology of the Northwoods. She says the area dubbed Cathedral Pines has some of the oldest and most unique trees in all of Wisconsin.
"Yeah, it's pretty cool" she said smiling beneath the towering Hemlocks.
Shutt says the fact this grouping of trees stand today is notable. In the 1900's logging companies cleared entire forests supplying lumber for construction.
But when Lucy Rumsey, wife of the president of the Holt Lumber Company saw the towering trees outside Lakewood, that mentality changed.
"She use to bring her kids here and walk around under the pines and said the sounds of the breezes moving through the tall trees reminded her of a cathedral and she would teach them Bible stories there" Shutt said. "Because of her love of this landscape; that's why these massive trees remain" she continued.
Shutt provides tours of the Cathedral Pines area to children and often introduces the trees as what she calls George Washington Trees. The name comes from the idea that when George Washington was born, the towering trees standing today were only saplings.
According to Shutt, June and July are the best time of year for visitors to stop by Cathedral Pines. Not only are the trees impressive, but the yearly visitors are as well. The area also doubles as a Great Blue Heron rookery.
The large birds use the trees at Cathedral Pines to nest and hatch their eggs. When these birds are nesting, they often make a lot of noise.
"Some folks say it sounds pre-historic when they're out here" Shutt remarked.
Great Blue Heron make loud shrieking noises that echo through the forests. They can also be spotted flapping their large wings flying from tree to tree.
The experience to see Great Blue Heron nest is worthwhile Shutt says.
"Usually they're going to nest far from the road or way off in a swamp someplace. Sometimes you'll see little egg shells on the ground where they've actually hatched out and fell" she said.
Cathedral Pines is located inside the swath of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Oconto County. To get to the area from Wausau, take Wisconsin 52 east to US-45 North into Antigo. Turn right onto Langlade Road and then bear right onto Wisconsin 64 east until Highway 32. Turn left on Highway 32 toward Lakewood. Continue on Highway 32 to Archibald Lake Road and turn left. Continue until Cathedral Lane and turn right. Cathedral Lane is a narrow dirt road; the parking area is just over the hill and to the right hand side of the road.
For a map of the Lakewood, Wis. area and of the Cathedral Pines section of the National Forest, follow this link: http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/sna/index.asp?SNA=496.