Port Alberni

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.


49 thoughts on “Port Alberni

  1. kagould17 says:

    So many familiar sights. I had forgotten about some of these, but looks like we will get a chance to visit them in October. Thanks for sharing Linda. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m such a fan of road trips, especially when we can make a bunch of stops along the way to break up the drive and stretch our legs. Even though it was raining, the scenery was still spectacular and the hiking enjoyable. That’s exciting that you’ll be in this area in the fall! Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

  2. grandmisadventures says:

    I love the Hole in the Wall, such a lovely spot- and it is probably much more beautiful without the pipe there than with it. Such a wonderful place to follow along with you today. More and more your posts make me want to grab my passport and my hiking shoes and come up there 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh for sure. It’s kind of neat how that man-made hole has now become a point of interest in the town. Vancouver Island is such a beautiful area. I couldn’t get enough of all the greenery and lush forests. Even with all the rain, the hiking was very enjoyable. Hopefully you’re able to visit someday.

  3. wetanddustyroads says:

    It seems in every country there’s a hole in the wall – we have a couple of them here in South Africa (caused by nature). Lovely views of the rushing waters (even while you had rain the entire time) … thanks for another lovely share!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That’s too funny. That’s neat that the Hole in the Wall in South Africa was caused naturally though. Despite the rain, the hiking was fantastic. If anything, I think it just added to the whole experience of being in the rainforest.

  4. salsaworldtraveler says:

    Your post offers further confirmation that Vancouver and Vancouver Island are high on my bucket list. Running into the local who provided guidance and information was good luck. I wonder where the little stream went before people made the hole in the wall.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Amazing!! You will not be disappointed. The scenery is breathtaking, there’s so many outdoor activities, the food is fantastic and the locals are so friendly. Good question about the stream. Perhaps you can ask one of the locals about it when you visit Vancouver Island and Port Alberni 🙂

  5. Rose says:

    That is so awesome that someone stopped and offered good directions! These images are wonderful. The moss-covered trees look like they belong in a dream. Thank-you for sharing this with us. These are so fun to read, I look forward to every post. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m really happy that we ran into that local otherwise I’m not too sure we would have found the Hole in the Wall on our own. He was very nice, as was the town. It’s very small, but the scenery is beautiful.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I find the sounds of rushing water so soothing and peaceful. Somehow I think it was even more enjoyable to hike in the rain as it just adds to the experience and everything just smells so fresh.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Port Alberni is a small town that sure packs a punch in terms of the scenery. I’m glad we ended up stopping here to explore some of the trails in the area, even if it was raining.

  6. Ab says:

    What a beautiful time you got to have at Port Alberni despite the less than sunny weather. That viewpoint with the falls is lovely. And the hole wall is very fun and whimsical! 😊

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We really embraced the rain. Thankfully it was only lightly raining though, which I think just added to whole ambiance of being in the rainforest. The trails were both relatively short and well worth putting our rain gear on for.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! We had more days of sun than rain when we were out west, so I’d say we got pretty lucky with the weather. It’s too bad you can’t send some of that rain over to Ontario. It’s been one hot and dry summer so far here.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The humidity and heat were brutal over the past two days. There were some storms in southern Ontario yesterday, which helped break the heat, but all the rain passed our town over, which is rather unfortunate. We really need some rain. It seems like a lot of areas are under intense heat waves. What’s the situation like in BC?

      • Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

        It’s supposed to become hot next week (over 40), but at least there’s no humidity. Vancouver is supposed to get 40 as well, and that’s really unusual for the coast. I hope you get some rain soon!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to finally visit the west coast. Even with the rain, the hiking was fantastic. I’m not too sure I could handle camping in a tent though.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. It’s always nice to break up the drive and stretch our legs. This was a lovely town to stop through and go for a couple of hikes, even in the rain.

  7. Lookoom says:

    I didn’t explore as much of Port Alberni on the way to Tofino, though I do remember that the wind was blowing hard that evening, following the inlet’s pass.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Port Alberni is a small town, but there’s some pretty awesome hiking in the area. Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with any wind when we visited, just some rain. Judging by how lush and green everything is, I’m guessing the rain is quite common here (and everywhere along the west coast of Vancouver Island).

  8. Bama says:

    It’s funny that the name Hole in the Wall is rather literal in this part of the world. 😃 Maybe because of the cloudy weather I could almost feel the cool temperatures in your photos, which is refreshing.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yup, the name of the trail was very fitting. If we didn’t know the backstory behind the hole in the wall, we never would have guessed that it was man-made. It goes to show how resilient nature can be sometimes. Even though we got some light rain, the cooler weather was actually perfect for hiking.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Glad to hear! All this reminiscing about our trip is making me want to return to the west coast as well. The scenery is so pretty. If it weren’t for all the rain, I would totally move here.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. The forests out west look like something straight out of a fairy tale with all the moss and towering tall trees. The overcast and misty rain just added to the whole ambiance.

      Now that it’s summer I’m actually missing the cool weather we had on Vancouver Island. And the rain. It’s been very hot and dry, but at least we have air conditioning and a pool, so I can’t complain too much. Hope you’re managing to stay cool as well.

  9. NortheastAllie says:

    This looks like a fun adventure and I love your waterfall photos! Also the water in the Hole In The Wall looks really clear, and I can see how this provided water for the town.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. One of my favourite things about taking a road trip are all the stops we make along the way. It’s a great way to break up the drive, get some fresh air, and stretch our legs. We weren’t expecting much from a small town like Port Alberni, but the hiking was fantastic. The Hole in the Wall was definitely worth stopping for.

  10. rkrontheroad says:

    Too bad about the rain, but you are intrepid hikers. You would think the trail to the hole in the wall would be better marked. Glad you found someone to give directions. That’s a lovely spot.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You can probably tell by now that I’m really not a fan of the rain. Somehow the misty rain added to the whole ambiance of walking through the mossy forest though. And yes, it was nice to get directions for the Hole in the Wall otherwise I’m not too sure we would have found it ourselves!

      • rkrontheroad says:

        Having grown up on the east coast (of U.S.), I’m not fond of rain either. Now I live in a mostly dry climate in the Colorado mountains. Lately we’ve been having brief summer thunderstorms in the afternoons, and it’s been a relief from the fire danger, so I’m more accepting of the rain.

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