I like waterfalls! I like the noises they make. I like how they always flow, always. And each has its own character.
Some can be awe-inspiring, others merely spectacular. And yet others are calming and relaxing.
The Alberni Valley has lots of waterfalls. Lots and lots. April is perhaps the best time to see them, because the snow at the higher elevations is melting. That means the flow is high, compared to August, when for some of them, the flow is reduced to a trickle. I can easily count 10 waterfalls in the Valley with many more in the surrounding area. Below, I have listed five of them with a brief description of each.
Stamp Falls, of course, is the one everyone knows. Located 15 kilometres up Beaver Creek Road, it is in the Provincial Park with the same name… I think. Although the literature and the online name is Stamp River Provincial Park, the sign at the entrance says Stamp Falls Provincial Park, the former name. In addition to the falls, there is a fish ladder to allow salmon to progress upstream past the falls.
In addition to the spring freshet, the falls are at their best when the salmon are running in June-July and again in September-October. The number of fish that show up there is truly amazing.
Lesser known, is Sproat Falls. Here also is a fish ladder used mainly by Sockeye salmon to get to Sproat Lake. It is located a hundred meters below the Highway 4 bridge over the Sproat River.
Driving out Hector Road past where it turns to gravel is the easiest way to get to it. Or you can follow the gravel road downstream under the bridge till you come to the old growth trees and find a very short path to a cliff overlooking the falls.
This road is currently blocked with boulders, meaning you must walk a short distance. It also is an exceptional place to see the Sockeye salmon migration in June and July, and is virtually ignored by thousands of tourists who drive right by it. Go figure.
Dixon Falls is the other large falls on the main river system through the valley. It is located on the Ash River about 1.3 km below Dixon Lake. The path into it is rather grown over now, at least the last time I was there, it was. It is quite short, less than half a kilometre, but steep when you get to the top of the bluff above it.
For those of you who aren’t into going very far afield, there is Kitsuksis Creek Falls. It is the smallest of the ones I’m writing about this month. This one can be found by crossing the top footbridge at Kitsuksis Dyke and turning right along the dirt footpath. Heading upstream, you’ll come to it about 300 metres up the trail before the train trestle. Despite their diminutive size, Kitsuksis Creek Falls are beautiful.
Kitsuksis Falls also have a small Coho run in October. But you have to catch it just right as the run lasts about two days.
I don’t know why, but one of my favourite falls is in Fossli Provincial Park, a small park on the south shore of Stirling Arm, Sproat Lake.
A 20-minute trail goes into it that starts just before the bridge over St. Andrew’s Creek.
The trail includes a small suspension bridge. This trail leads down to a small beach on Sproat Lake. Watch for the turn-off to the waterfall. Below it, the creek babbles its way to the beach over cobbles that are fun to play in and wade through. Above, a canopy of tall alder and maple provides welcome shade on a hot summer afternoon.
I have Trevor Harvey to thank for showing me Weiner Falls. This is a spectacular waterfall up the hill from Sproat Lake Landing in the Community Forest. It plunges 15 metres into a plunge pool. There is a 15-minute hike to the top of the falls.
For those who want to view the falls from below, there is a tricky climb down a very steep bluff.
There are a couple of ropes to assist the adventurous types in getting to the bottom.
There are many other waterfalls as well, but sadly I only have space to describe these five. I’ll leave it to you to do some research and find out where, Anderson Falls, and Frenchman Falls are, where Cherry Creek Falls is, and Stokes Falls, and Rogers Creek Falls, and Snow Creek, and so on.
NB: For those of you who are on Facebook, you might be interested to know that there are a couple of outdoorsy groups for the Alberni Valley, Hiking Port Alberni and Kayaking Port Alberni.
Both are a source for people to find out more about the local outdoors and to share your adventures.