Guest Blog by Chris Fenton
When I was asked to write an article highlighting my top five favourite trails in the Alberni Valley, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d just spent the past six month researching and hiking the various trail networks throughout the Heart of Vancouver Island for Valley of Trails. This would be easy right? As it turns out, it wasn’t.
To start with we have an estimated 100 different trails in the Alberni Valley. Should I highlight the most famous trails? The most challenging? The most stunning? Do mountain routes count as trails? In the end, I decided I would simply share those that are most important to me. Here they are:
5. Alberni Inlet Trail
The Alberni Inlet Trail is the oceanfront hiking trail in the Alberni Valley. It’s an amazing hike with diverse trail conditions. There are plenty of ups and downs which make the trail a fun physical challenge. The trail is also a walk through the history of industry on Vancouver Island with logging and mining artifacts scattered along the way. My favourite historical site is the remains of the old miner’s cabin on the back side of Copper Mountain. However, what make the Alberni Inlet Trail special are the spectacular views! There are numerous spots that give you spectacular unobstructed views of both the Alberni Valley and down the Alberni Inlet.
4. Rogers Creek Nature Trails
This might be a surprise to many people, because Rogers Creek Trails is neither remote nor particularly difficult, but it is one of my favourites. There are a couple of reasons why. First of all, it is a river hike and I love spending time in the forests along rivers. Secondly, it is more of a trail network, than a trail, which means that you can spend weeks exploring the area. Thirdly, I love the diversity of sights. There are the shale cliffs, sandy spots along the creek, the Roger’s Creek Giant, Sherwood Falls, the Beaver Pond, and the Hole-in-the-Wall. Lastly, I spent countless hours of my childhood in this forest and it the place in the Alberni Valley that I find most peaceful. To this day, if I’ve had a rough day, I’ll take off down Rogers Creek and let the sound of the water running over the rocks and the wind passing through the leaves work their magic.
3. Stamp Long River Trail
The Stamp Long River Trail, also known as Sayachlas t’a saa’nim, and best known locally as the Anglers Trail is a true Vancouver Island gem. We use the word rainforest liberally on Vancouver Island, but this is one of the rare spots that you can easily access a true old growth rainforest. Ancient cedar and fir trees can be seen along the entire trail, but the north end of the trail is particularly awe inspiring. Add to this the fact that this is a river hike, along one of Vancouver Island most amazing rivers, and you have the making of a world class hiking trail. Virtually the entire hike is along the riparian zone where you may spot eagle, hawks, bears and deer. If you aren’t yet planning your trip, I should also mention that you’ll also pass the raging Stamp Falls along this trail.
2. Mount Klitsa
It has been a very long time since I stood atop of Mount Klitsa, but I’m sure the memory of the view will stay with me for much longer still. There are at least two routes to the summit and I’m told that it can be done as a long day hike. We took three days, and I’d highly recommend the trip. The first day was spent hiking up the forested slope of the mountain until we arrived at a beautiful mountain pond. We set up basecamp here and enjoyed some time hand feeding the Whiskey Jacks. On the second day we made the final hike to the top of the mountain. There is vertical wall at the summit that is several thousand feet high. Standing atop that cliff was a feeling unlike any other.
1. Della Falls
In truth Della Falls is my favourite hike in the world, and not for the reason you might expect. Sure, the 440m high waterfalls are cool. But I LOVE hiking river valleys and Della Falls Trail brings you through an absolutely stunning Vancouver Island river valley. This multi day adventure begins with a canoe or boat ride to the end of Great Central Lake. At the trailhead you throw your 40lbs pack on your back and start hiking along Great Central Lake and then up Drinkwater Creek. This part of the trail is wide and flat and passes through some beautiful Spruce and Hemlock forest. Once you cross over Maragret Creek the fun really begins - the trail gets narrower and rougher. The farther you hike the steeper the cliffs of the valley becomes, and the lusher the rainforest becomes. It becomes so lush and biodiverse that you almost feel like you’re in jungle. Eventually you get your first glimpse of Della Falls in the distance, and you know then that this is a place you’ll be coming back to.
That’s it, my top five favourite hikes through the Heart of Vancouver Island. It wasn’t easy, because there are so many other noteworthy trails. Get out there, explore, and let us know what you find. Safe hiking!
Check out Valley of Trails for more ideas & info.