The quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listen. J.R.R. Tolkien
Stepping into the Forest Cathedral Natural Area at Cook Forest State Park feels a little like stepping into a Tolkien novel. Quotes from The Hobbit come to mind.
This is one of the largest old growth forests of white pine and eastern hemlock in the eastern United States. Many of these trees are over 200 feet tall and are too big to wrap your arms around. These trees likely date to the era of William Penn, the first governor of Pennsylvania.
The trails here are wide and well maintained and meander through the hills. This is a place where fairies play and where you might spot a unicorn or two if your eyes were just a bit quicker. I wish these trees could talk. Some look like they are poised to pull up root and walk away.
These trees look like two old friends sitting together on a boulder. They appear to be holding hands.
This place exists because a lumber baron named Anthony Cook saw value in this incredible forest, reserving the best of it for conservation purposes. He also convinced others to join his cause, starting an important era of conservation in Pennsylvania. By the time of Cook’s death in 1891, two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s forests had already been cut so it is hard to place a value on Cook’s work.
His is an important and lasting legacy.
This place is gorgeous. The very idea that it exists because of the forward thinking of someone long ago is awe inspiring. Here’s to the future.