Giant Red

In an Ancient Grove

By Dennis Pence

It’s like walking through a cathedral,” Marty said during an over-the-fence conversation early one sunny morning.

She was speaking of the Giant Red Cedar National Recreation Trail less than a dozen miles from the tiny town of Elk River in northern Idaho’s heavily timbered backcountry. Dominating these huge trees is a record western red cedar that has been growing for three thousand years and is eighteen feet in diameter at breast height. I was hooked by her vivid description.

Having spent my childhood in a land of big trees on the Washington coast, I had to see this “cathedral” for myself. The next day my better half, Teri, and I went in search of Elk River’s big cedars.

Less than a two-hour drive from our Kooskia area home, we arrived in Elk River. I had been to the community several times over the last few years but, strangely enough, had never heard of the Giant Cedar Grove. I pinpointed the location on a forest service map, yet still spent a few minutes hunting for the road that traverses the dozen or so miles up Elk Creek to the grove. With a population of only around 125 people in Elk River, the Elk Creek Road couldn’t be that hard to find. I drove through town, spied Elk Creek Valley, and took a road to the left. When the road started climbing out of the valley, I decided I took a wrong turn. How does one get lost in tiny Elk River?

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Dennis Pence

About Dennis Pence

Dennis Pence knew he would be a writer by age ten, and he’s been writing ever since. He admits that he hasn’t made much money at being a writer, but he’s the author of two novels in print, and three more on his computer. Dennis lives with his wife Teri and dogs Rose Bud and Sadie in the hills above Kooskia. He can be reached at penstone@msn.com.