Port Alberni Inlet Trail Stage 1 (14km)


An historic back country trail alongside the Alberni Inlet and telegraph line, with stunning views of Port Alberni,  Mount Arrowsmith and the Alberni Inlet. 

Footpath only (some challenging sections, may not be suitable for all hikers)

Note this post is recorded from the north end to the south end; this is in contrast to most posts in this trail guide blog. hiker

The Trail

This trail runs from Franklin River Road to China Creek Regional Park and Camp Ground. It is a back country trail that begins with a short flat single track walk over a small creek and then proceeds up a number of switch backs, with views of Mt.Arrowsmith and Port Alberni.  It continues through an old growth forest, eventually coming out on a logging road (spur10). To follow the trail, walk along the logging road for 400m then continue right on the trail.

There are two route options descending to the Inlet. The first is along Follinsbee Creek, which is less demanding. The second is by way of the Lookout and the old Copper Mountain Trail. Descend into the inlet and old telegraph line where the trail narrows.  Here the trail becomes coastal rock and winds in and out of the forest with some steep drops and great views. At about the 10 km mark, you start ascending up through a logged area. At the top is a road for about 600m,  then the trail begins again on your right. The trail continues over a delicate mossy knoll and quickly descends, crossing a couple of private roads. (Please do not stop on these roads).

All road crossings on this trail are private and may be gated.  Contact Island Timberlands for up to date road openings.


View of Port Alberni from the trail.


Spectacular view of Alberni Inlet.

From this point descend to China Creek and into the forest. Across the river you will go up the ravine to a paved road that leads down to China Creek Camp Ground. Cross the road and go left to the parking lot for the End of Stage 1 and the Begining of Stage 2. There is a trail just behind a small building that goes down to the Camp Grounds.

There are 7 bridged water crossings and 6 small creeks with no bridges on this trail.  Most of these are shown on the map. Running out of water shouldn’t be an issue on the Inlet Trail, but boil or treat all water before drinking it.  A short trail to the right before the first bridge for China Creek leads to a small beach with amazing blue ice cold water.  China Creek Camp Ground also has clean water stations.


Stone Lined pathway section.


Beach access.


Remnants of the old telegraph line.

The Inlet Trail system is extremely well built and marked. It has a few Tsunami evacuation points all marked on map with gps coordinates. The first stage of the trail is a single track that has numerous ups and downs that weave through the old growth forest and coast line, with a small old slash section just before China Creek.  It can be very steep with rocks, roots, mud, some slippery and sharp rocks along the coast. There is one section that is steep and requires using chains (see photos). This would be difficult for cyclists.  The maps for this trail system are extremely accurate. The first section navigates a lot of hills and valleys, so distances may take longer to hike than usual.

The Town of Port Alberni is the nearest supply and services point. This has all amenities including a post office, grocery stores, accommodation and restaurants.  Camping is available at China Creek Camp Ground with a restaurant coming in the summer of 2017. China Creek Camp also offers Pay Showers to Hikers.


Be ready to tackle this chain, to help get up the steep section of slippery rocks.


Signage on the trail.


Tsunami evacuation zone designation with GPS coordinates.

No Fires and the Leave No Trace policy applies to the entire area. The only formal campsite is China Creek Camp Ground (49º09’12” N 124º47’42” W).  The remainder of the land along the trail is privately owned and camping is NOT ALLOWED.


There are numerous picnic spots along the inlet trail.  They are:

1) A Bench right after the first set of switch backs with views of Port Alberni and Mt. Arrowsmith.

2)  There is also an old Scouts Camp, on the water, if coming from the south. (49º11’50” N 124º48’44” W) This spot has a small covered area and a good place for a swim in the ocean.

3) A Plank Bench right before the trail goes up to the small chain section. Good for a quick refuel.

4) A Bench with an amazing view of the inlet just after the slash area.

5) China Creek offers a couple spots and has a small beach with a trail to the right just before the first bridge also a good water source and place to swim,

6) You can also go to the new restaurant in China Creek Camp Ground when it opens in summer of 2017. Another idea is to pack a lunch down and find a place to sit outside at the camp ground. However, it is a steep trail down, and you may want to bypass it, as you’ll need to walk back up to continue Stage 2 of Inlet Trail.

Driving Directions and GPS Coordinates of the Trail Head

Turn left on to Port Alberni Hwy (signs to Bamfield), Turn left on to 10th Ave N., Turn left onto Dunbar St., Dunbar turns into Anderson Ave. Parking at the bottom of Anderson Ave.

49º12’54” N  124º47’35” W


Trail Head signage.


Map of the route at trailhead.


There is free parking at the end of Anderson Ave, Ship Creek and at Franklin River Road junction. This last lot at Franklin River Road Junction is a dirt with multiple parking spots.  It loops around some Scotch Broom with about 50-70 spots. Trailers can fit if it is not too busy.


Parking Lot at Trail head is large.

GPS Coordinates and Description of the Endpoint of the Trail (start of Stage 2 Inlet Trail)

Turn left on to Port Alberni Hwy (signs to Bamfield,  Turn left on to 10th Ave N., Turn left onto Dunbar St., Dunbar turns into Anderson Ave. At the end of Anderson Ave, Turn left on to Franklin River Road (turns into a gravel logging road watch for commercial vehicles). Follow signs for Bamfield. Take a slight right at the sign for China Creek Camp Ground  and the parking lot is the next left. Follow the road all the way down to get to the Camp Ground.

This parking lot is not as big as the one for the start of stage 1 but can still hold 30 cars or so and is also free.

49º08’59” N  124º47’08” W

Other Trails in this Area

-Port Alberni Inlet Trail Stages 2-3

– Runners Trail

– Log Train Trail

Other Web Links for info on this area:







As Recorded by Andrew Porter and Chris Zygarlicki

May 2017


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