Trip Report: Alberni Inlet Trail

Sometimes you start hiking a trail having absolutely no idea what it’s going to be like. Or rather the image you had in your head of the trail is completely wrong. That’s the way I started the Alberni Inlet trail. I had assumed I was going to start a double track trail along the flat Port Alberni Inlet. The keyword there being flat. That picture of the trail is far from correct.

Della, my 30-pound formosan mountain dog, and I headed up to Port Alberni and started hiking at around 11am. The heat had already started to creep up. The interwebs had promised 27 degrees, perfect temperature for a hard hike….. I absolutely love hiking when I’m gushing sweat.

Della not sitting still - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Della not sitting still – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

The trail starts out as small single-track through lush green forest. A great start. The elevation starts to creep up and in no time, you’re into switchbacks climbing up the steep hill to the first of the viewpoints. My first goal was a viewpoint that overlooks the inlet with 180 degree views of Alberni Inlet.

The trail wound its way along the back of the hill on the other side from the inlet, giving views of the lush forest around Port Alberni. Eventually we came up and over the hill to get some views of the water. There’s something about the water that I can’t get enough of. I don’t have to be in it, or even right next to it, but just seeing it from a mountain makes any hike that much better.

No water under the bridge - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

No water under the bridge – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Well maintained trail - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Well maintained trail – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Port Alberni from Alberni Inlet Trail - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Port Alberni from Alberni Inlet Trail – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Rocky trail - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Rocky trail – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Della - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Della – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Bridge - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Bridge – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

The trail pops out on a logging road and then cuts back into the woods. I hope they’re working on getting that trail to 100% single track. Using the logging roads as part of the trail for any more than a crossing is the easy way out. It’s great to get a trail up and running but hopefully they don’t use it for long.About 3.5 km from the trailhead we hit a fork in the trail. Heading left from this fork leads you up to the great viewpoint overlooking the inlet. Heading right at the fork will lead you down the medium difficulty trail to the water. The kicker here is that if you go to the viewpoint AND want to go to the water, you have to go down a crazy steep section after the viewpoint to get there. I wanted to see what both trails looked like so we headed to the viewpoint and the steep trail.

Lookout trail - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Lookout trail – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Alberni Inlet from above - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Alberni Inlet from above – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Just past where the steep trail takes you down to the water, there’s a hard to find side trail from the logging road up to the viewpoint. It’s quite steep but there’s no ropes involved. The viewpoint is well worth it.

If you’re only looking for a couple hour hike, going to the viewpoint and then straight back is the way to go.

If you’re looking for a much harder hike, go down the steep section to the water.

Steep trail - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Steep trail – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

We headed back to the fork and down the steep trail to the water. The brochures and signs classified this part as difficult and steep. They weren’t kidding. Usually signs are  very conservative with their markings but it was steep and difficult. A lot of the dirt was loose and dry and slid easily. I grabbed trees on the way down to slow down. I keep the next tree in sight just in case I started moving faster than I wanted to. Careening down the loose rock bouncing off the trees wasn’t in my plan to get to the water. I like water but I didn’t need to get there that fast.

15 minutes later we hit the fork at the bottom. This steep difficult trail hooks up with the medium trail that comes down from the earlier fork in the trail. It continues on along the inlet for another 25 km to Headquarters Bay. From there it connects to the Runner’s trail which goes all the way to Francis Lake. From what I’ve read, the Runner’s Trail is very rough and not well signed. I’ll be exploring that one soon.

Alberni Inlet - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Alberni Inlet – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

We explored down the trail a bit and along the beach, where a driftwood shack had been built. It looked like a lunch shack for frying up that tasty fish from the inlet.

Lush green forest - Aberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Lush green forest – Aberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Satisfied with seeing the first bit of inlet trail, we headed back towards the moderate trail that would take us back up the massive hill we just came down. One viewpoint was left on our list just before starting up the hill, the beach access with a small trail along the water. A large log boom was hooked up to the shore right in front of the beach and one of the mills was right around the corner. The beach trail headed off in that direction but I didn’t really care to see what the mill looked like.

Waterfall - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Waterfall – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Near the viewpoint was a beautiful set of waterfalls, a mere trickle point with how dry it was. They looked like they could really pour over the falls when the water is coming down. I got a few pictures and had lunch at the bottom of the trickle. I was going to take more photos of the falls but Della got spooked and started barking at something in the woods. I didn’t want to push my luck with any animal encounters so I packed my gear and started up the giant hill.

Oh hai

Oh hai

Teva Tevesphere shoes - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Teva Tevesphere shoes – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Deer - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Deer – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

Fern - Alberni Inlet Trail - PureOutside

Fern – Alberni Inlet Trail – PureOutside

The moderate trail up the hill wasn’t nearly as steep as the one coming down from the viewpoint but it was still a gut buster to climb. It was about 2:00pm and the heat was still climbing. Della was plodding along slowly behind me. I wasn’t moving very fast either.

30 minutes to the top without any breaks. If you want more breaks, you’ll be longer. I slogged it out and pushed my way to the top.

From the fork at the top, it was an easy flat and downhill back to the car.

Great trail. Good viewpoints. Good slog up from the water. 

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