Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: April 2022
Port Alberni is situated within the Alberni Valley at the head of the Alberni Inlet, the longest inlet on Vancouver Island. It is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including mossy rainforests and giant towering trees.
On the drive from Tofino to Victoria, we stopped in Port Alberni to go on a couple of hikes to break up the drive. We first went to the Hole in the Wall, a man-made hole that was created through the rock to make way for a pipeline to supply water to the town. The entrance for Hole in the Wall is not marked, but there’s a small parking lot located off the highway just east of Port Alberni and the Coombs Country Candy store.
From the parking lot, there’s a gravel road that leads deeper into the forest. At first we weren’t sure whether to continue along the road, but there were signs that said “Fire Lane – no parking”. Thankfully a truck was coming through and the guy pulled over to chat with us. I guess it’s easy to spot the confused tourists. He was super helpful and provided directions on how to get to the Hole in the Wall and gave us a little bit more information about how and why it was created.
We parked our car and walked along the gravel road. The path branches off in a few directions, which makes navigation a bit tricky, but the guy told us to turn right at the first and second junction and then turn left at the third and fourth junction. So that’s what we did. We even came across a few signs that provided validation that we were going in the right direction. As we neared the river, the trees became more mossy.
The path leads down to the shore of the river and from here we could clearly see the perfect circle that was drilled into the rock. The pipeline that was built here to supply drinking water to Port Alberni was later removed. In its place is a scenic viewpoint of a steady trickle of water flowing through the hole into the river below.
We turned around and walked back the way we came, which was mostly uphill. From there it’s about a 20 minute drive to get to Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. The park is located on the southern shore of Cameron Lake and features a couple of hiking trails to see the gorge and several cascading waterfalls.
We pulled into the main parking lot where there’s a sheltered picnic area and a washroom, which was still closed for the season, but there’s a pit toilet nearby. We saw signs for both the lower and upper falls. These trails connect to form a longer loop that follows the edge of the gorge, so it didn’t really matter which way we went. We started with the upper falls. The path follows along the edge of the gorge, which has been fenced off. Along the way there are several viewpoints that showcase the rushing water below.
It rained for our entire hike. But despite the rain, the trail wasn’t too muddy, just very wet. There were a few particularly large puddles that were challenging to get around, even with waterproof shoes. So that should give you some indication of how deep some of these puddles were. We even had to shimmy across one of the fences after watching another pair of hikers get the boots submerged when trying to cross one particularly deep puddle.
Once we looped back to the trailhead, we hopped in the car and took off our rain paints and rain jackets. We were thankful to be out of the rain for the next few hours as we continued our drive to Victoria.