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, in contrast to most posts in this trail guide. 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 mature forest, eventually coming out on a logging road (Spur 10). 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 steeper route 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 over a couple of private roads (all road crossings on this trail are private and roads may be gated).


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 Campground. Cross the road and go left to the parking lot for the end of Stage 1 and the beginning of Stage 2. There is a trail just behind a small building that goes down to the Campground.

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 Campground 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 several evacuation points all marked on maps with gps coordinates. The first stage of the trail is a single track that has numerous ups and downs that weave through mature 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 provides a chain for assistance (see photos). 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 and pay showers are available at China Creek Campground.


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


Signage on the trail.


Evacuation point designation with GPS coordinates.

No Fires and the Leave No Trace policy applies to the entire area. The only formal campsite is China Creek Campground (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.

Driving Directions and GPS Coordinates of the Trail Head

As you come down the long hill and enter Port Alberni, turn left onto Redford St. (signs to Bamfield).  Turn left at 10th Ave N and then left onto Dunbar St. which angles up to become Anderson Ave. At the end of Anderson, cross directly over Ship Creek Road (it then becomes the Franklin River Road) into the Stage 1 parking area.

49º12’54” N  124º47’35” W


Trail Head signage.


Map of the route at trailhead.


Parking Lot at Trail head is large.



There is a free, large gravel parking lot that can hold about about 50 cars. Vehicles with trailers can easily loop around.

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