We recently went on a bit of a local adventure to a secret spot that I had been eager to seek out. It took some navigation skills, but we found the hidden waterfall in Port Alberni.
And no, I am not talking about the ‘Hole in the Wall‘. Although beautiful, that’s hardly a secret anymore.
I am talking about one that is so secret I couldn’t find any other information on it other than in an old hiking book I have on my shelf written in 2010. I had no idea if the hike was even still accessible 10 years later, but we like an adventure, so off we went.
The hidden waterfall we were seeking is called Dickson Falls, and it’s located on the Ash River in Port Alberni.
And my goodness, this boisterous falls is a beauty!
Once you find the start of the trail, it’s a very short walk (approximately 0.3 km) to the falls. However, the terrain is fairly steep. When you start you are above the falls, so you have to navigate your way down. Which, obviously, means you also have to have the ability to climb back up.
When you are down at the falls, you can easily climb the large rocks along the river to get closer access to a point of interest. Please do watch for slippery and/or sharp rocks, especially as you get closer to the falls.
At the time of year we went (May) there was another pretty hidden waterfall to the left-hand side of the larger falls. When the weather heats up and consequently dries things up, I can’t be sure this little falls will still be there (picture of the smaller waterfall below).
The larger falls, however, are so boisterous right now, I have no doubt they are full of water year-round.
How To Access the Hidden Waterfall
This is the tricky part…
Getting to the trailhead involves travelling on a logging road mainline, and as we all know, public access restrictions could apply at any time.
Logging Road Travel
As mentioned in our “Hidden Gems E-Book“…
Private forest lands make up 23% of the land base on Vancouver Island. And, unfortunately, many of Vancouver Island’s greatest assets (and hidden gems) are found by accessing these lands. Although many of the private landowners are aware this happens, we still need to be mindful that this privilege could just as easily be taken away from us if not respected.
This means when walking through private land we leave no trace.
We take out what we brought in and treat their land with the utmost respect.
As for Vancouver Island View’s involvement, please remember, I am providing you with an information service only. What you do with that information is entirely up to you, and you do so at your own risk.
As well, active logging roads have increased security in the form of locked gates due to the threat of vandalism and potential fire risk. Please ensure you follow all gate closure signs, and most importantly, get out before the time limit is up, otherwise you will be in for a hefty charge!
A good rule of thumb when travelling on any active logging road is the logging truck always gets the right of way!! Logging trucks, especially when loaded, canNOT stop as quickly as you can, so please also be mindful of how quickly you are travelling down these roads.
You will be travelling just under 12 km on a logging road north of Great Central Lake.
This was our first time to Great Central Lake as well, and perhaps it’s yours too, so I’ll begin my directions on how to first arrive at this pretty lake.
At the T-Junction at the end of Alberni Highway, turn right as if you are going to Ucluelet or Tofino. You are now on the Pacific Rim Highway. Follow that for approximately 9 km. When you near Sproat Lake Provincial Park, turn right onto Central Lake Road.
Follow Central Lake Road for approximately 7.5 km to the foot of Great Central Lake. The road is paved to Great Central Lake. Get out and explore here, if you’d like, or do so on your return. It really is a pretty spot.
With the RV Resort and Marina in front of you, turn right onto Ash Main and cross the Sproat River bridge. You should pass the Boot Lagoon Hatchery (fish farm) almost immediately after you cross the bridge.
Follow Ash Main for approximately 11 km.
(Note: At the 6.7 km or 28.5-mile sign stay right. (It’s a tricky section of intertwining roads)).
Watch for the 33 mile sign. The trailhead you are looking for is approximately 0.5 km past that sign.
On a slight left turning corner, you should see a disused spur road that leads slightly uphill. This is the trailhead you are looking for. (Picture of spur road below).
Park as far off the road as possible (or preferably on the opposite side of the road) to allow logging trucks to pass.
If you get to Dickson Lake, you have gone too far (although we did just that and the beautiful little lake proved to be another lucky find – so don’t be afraid to explore a bit further). Picture of Dickson Lake is above.
Once you find the correct trailhead, the rest is easy. Just follow the trail down to the waterfall.
Cautions and Tips
- There is NO cell service
- You are literally out in the middle of nowhere, and most likely in Cougar and bear country – be mindful!
- If you are not familiar with semi-wilderness hiking, perhaps this isn’t the spot for you
- The trailhead is NOT marked and extremely easy to miss. I’ve done my best to describe how to get there, but often the fun of it is in the seek. We walked up and down several “spur roads” before finding the right one. Use your ears to listen for the waterfall to guide you.
- The rocks around the waterfall are slippery
- Bring your own water
- Carry out anything you brought in
- Bring your camera!
Did you know about Dickson Falls? Have you been? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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