Hikes in Port Alberni
Nestled within the Alberni Valley in the heart of Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is a beautifully scenic city surrounded by vast forests, rugged mountains, and the deep waters of the Alberni Inlet. With such a diversity of surrounding terrain, the city lends itself well to operating as a means for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the interior of the island.
Easy access to the water has naturally made water sports like canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, and wind surfing a focus of recreational activities in the area, with salmon fishing being a particularly popular pastime. With that being said, the beautiful landscape of the Alberni Valley is a prime hiking destination, allowing hikers the possibility to climb nearby mountains to gain stunning panoramic perspectives of the rugged interior of Vancouver Island. For a more casual experience, beginner hikers and families can walk the short but scenic trails that lead to the numerous cascading waterfalls that can be found in the region, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts of every age and skill level.
Great Hikes In Port Alberni
With hundreds of hiking trails in and around the city limits, Port Alberni and the surrounding Alberni Valley are a great place to explore the wild terrain of Vancouver Island without straying too far from your accommodations. With beautiful views across the waters of the Alberni Inlet, the urban walkways of the city provide a nice way to get some exercise, while the rough and rugged terrain of nearby Mt. Arrowsmith Massif Regional Park to the east provides more seasoned hikers with challenging trails and breathtaking panoramic views across the island. No matter your skill level, you are sure to find an amazing hiking trail in the area to meet your needs. Check out this list of routes in Port Alberni that we’ve put together below:
- Hole in the Wall: This quick out-and-back trail can be found just outside of Port Alberni and takes you along a scenic creekside set in the temperate rainforest. While out on the trail, you will enjoy a peaceful atmosphere in the area surrounding the Hole in the Wall, a manmade keyhole blasted through the rock that features a cascading waterfall. This is an easy trail just off the highway that is perfect for stretching your legs after a long drive.
- Little Qualicum Falls: This 2.9 km adventure is a fun, family-friendly hike that will take you through the rainforest east of Port Alberni to arrive at a rushing waterfall. The trails here are well-maintained, making it a great hike for all ages.
- Mount Arrowsmith via Judges Route: Forested with a fair bit of rugged terrain, the hike up to the summit of Mount Arrowsmith is a challenging uphill adventure that will test your physical fitness. Although it may be difficult, your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding forest and mountains of the island.
- Nile Creek Trail: This intermediate length trail hike will take you uphill along a creek for the chance to visit another well-known waterfall in the Port Alberni area. Although the route features some steep sections of trail, the vibrant green rainforests and the cascading water of the falls create an amazing atmosphere that shouldn’t be missed.
- CPR Trail: The CPR Trail is a difficult hike near Port Alberni that utilizes a series of rope installations to help you climb your way up to a scenic viewpoint. Once there, you will have some stunning views across Vancouver Island.
- Mount Cokely: This is a challenging trail that will take you up some steep, often snow-covered terrain to reach a saddle below Mount Arrowsmith. Geared more towards experienced hikers, you will receive some breathtaking views across the rugged landscape of the island.
- Mount Wesley: Another tough climb along the rugged peaks around Port Alberni, this trail will take you up a forested ridgeline for some amazing views overlooking Cameron Lake. Don’t forget bug spray for this one!
- Alberni Valley Lookout Trail: A popular family-friendly trail in the Port Alberni area, this hike will lead you up a gently sloping hillside to a beautiful lookout with views that sweep across the valley. The trail also follows a logging road, making navigation a breeze for those worried about getting lost.
- Port Alberni Inlet Trail: A stunning waterside walk with views across the Port Alberni Inlet, this trail will take you through the lush forests and rugged hills of the region, allowing you to fully experience the natural beauty of the landscape. This is a one-way hike, so make sure to pre-arrange a pick up at the end of the trail if you want to avoid the long slog back.
- Roger's Creek Nature Trail: This trail is a gorgeous rainforest walk that is packed full of biodiversity, making for a fun afternoon of hiking along the vibrant green rainforest floor. The short nature of the trail and wonderfully atmospheric setting make this a great option for a fun day of hiking with the family.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Port Alberni?
Like many parts of Vancouver Island, Port Alberni’s trails are best explored during the summer months when the trail conditions are mostly dry; however, this also coincides with the busy tourist season, meaning that your party likely won’t be the only hikers on the trail. Luckily for you, weather on this part of the island isn’t too treacherous, meaning the shoulder seasons are still a pleasant time to explore the stunning landscapes of the region - as long as you don’t mind the chance of catching a bit of rain. In any case, if you are planning a hiking trip in and around Port Alberni, aim for somewhere in the May-October window.
Other Outdoor Activities in Port Alberni
With a great location along the waters of the Alberni Inlet and a surrounding landscape of beautiful rainforests, coursing rivers, and rugged mountains, Port Alberni offers a wide range of activities that allow you to get out and explore the outdoors. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, and paddle boarding are popular water sports in the area, while hiking, mountain biking, and ATVing are great ways to explore the beautiful terrain around the city. No matter your interests, a fun experience is always right around the corner in Port Alberni.
Frequently Asked Questions About Port Alberni
How do I get to Port Alberni from Nanaimo?
While there is a bus that departs Nanaimo for Port Alberni every 30 minutes (a roughly 1.5 hour journey) the best way to explore the island is by having your own vehicle so that you can access the region’s many hiking trails.
How far is Port Alberni from the ocean?
While it may look as though the town is situated on a lake, Port Alberni is actually located on a saltwater inlet that stretches 40.0 km into the interior of Vancouver Island from the Pacific Ocean.
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Best Hikes in Port Alberni
Hole in the Wall
The Hole in the Wall Trail is a 1.3 km out-and-back hiking route just outside of Port Alberni, BC, that allows hikers to explore a wonderful creekside landscape within a beautiful stretch of West Coast temperate rainforest. Along the short trail, you will be able to relax as you stroll through the peaceful atmosphere of the forest and visit the cascading waterfall that passes through the Hole in the Wall, as well as a tranquil spot along the creek that is adorned with rock cairns. Many people drive by this magical spot everyday to access other areas on the island without even knowing what they have missed, so make sure to stop in the next time you are in the Port Alberni area for a bit of fun exploration.
Little Qualicum Falls Trail
Hiking to the Little Qualicum Falls is a family-family adventure that follows a 2.9 km out-and-back trail through the forests east of Port Alberni. Along the trail, hikers will be immersed in an amazing example of the West Coast temperate rainforest before arriving at a scenic gorge along the Little Qualicum River with views of the gushing falls. With flat, well-maintained, and easy-to-navigate trails, this route is perfectly suited for adventurers of all skill levels and ages.
Mount Arrowsmith via Judges Route Hike
The trek up Mount Arrowsmith via the Judges Route follows a 6.0 km out-and-back trail that leads through the forest and up some rugged, exposed terrain to the summit of Mount Arrowsmith. The trail is a steep and gruelling uphill climb; however, the views from the summit are absolutely breathtaking and provide a panoramic sightline of the surrounding Vancouver Island terrain. If you are looking for a relatively short but physically intense hike with epic views, then a day atop Mount Arrowsmith should certainly make it into your schedule.
Nile Creek Trail
The Nile Creek Trail is a 10.0 km out-and-back hiking route near Port Alberni, BC, that travels uphill alongside Nile Creek to visit several stunning waterfalls. Along the trail, hikers will experience a breathtaking temperate rainforest setting that is packed full of vibrant green vegetation on the way to the cascading falls that have an almost mystical feel in the atmosphere of the dense forest. The trail follows a fairly gradual incline for the majority of the route until you begin to approach the falls, where the trail will steepen; however, it is still manageable for casual hikers
The CPR Trail is a challenging but ultra scenic hiking route to the east of Port Alberni that will take you uphill for some amazing views across the picturesque Vancouver Island landscape. While out on the trail, you will make your way uphill through the forest along McBey Creek and utilize several rope climbs to reach a stunning lookout. Although it is a rugged adventure, this trail is very well maintained, making it a pleasant - if tough - hike on the island.
Hiking up Mount Cokely is an amazing - if challenging - experience near Port Alberni that will take you uphill to reach the saddle below Mount Arrowsmith. While out on this hike, you will climb up the rugged terrain of the mountainside to reach a lookout atop Mount Cokely, with views of neighbouring Mount Arrowsmith and the jagged peaks of the interior off in the distance. This trail is only accessible on weekends due to logging operations in the area.
Mount Wesley Trail
The journey to the summit of Mount Wesley is a tough uphill hiking route near Port Alberni that will see you traverse a rugged ridge for views overlooking Cameron Lake. While out on the trail, you will climb a series of switchbacks to reach the top of the ridge for some scenic views of the lake before continuing on to reach another lookout at the end of the trail. Make sure to bring bug repellant to stay comfortable on this forested hike.
Alberni Valley Lookout Trail
The Alberni Valley Lookout Trail is a great family-friendly adventure on Vancouver Island that will see you make your way up the hillside for views of the Alberni Valley. While it isn’t the most challenging route, this charming forest hike makes for a pleasant afternoon on the trails with the family. Although steep in some areas, this trail follows a logging road, making it easy to navigate all of the way until the end.
Port Alberni Inlet Trail
Hiking the Port Alberni Inlet Trail is an amazing experience near Port Alberni that will allow you to experience the rugged terrain and beautiful views along the edge of this lengthy body of water. While out on the trail, you will make your way through vibrant forests along the edge of the water and experience views of passing ships and floating timber along the shoreline. Hikers should take note that this is a point-to-point trail, meaning they will need to either arrange a pick up at the end of the route or backtrack along the trail, increasing the overall distance to a gruelling 40.0 km
Cameron Lake Railway Trestles
Hiking to the Cameron Lake Railway Trestles is a fun, family-friendly experience that will take you to several scenic viewpoints along the edge of Cameron Lake. While out on the trail, you will make your way along the forested shores of the lake and take in some beautiful views across the water, before arriving at the site of the old, derelict railway trestles. This hike is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend afternoon on the trails.
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