Marble River Provincial Park, located near Port Alice on northern Vancouver Island, is a great place to explore at any time of year. During the summer, you can swim in shallower sections of the river, and during the fall, it’s a popular place to view spawning salmon.
- Features: Waterfall, fish ladder, salmon spawning grounds, popular fly-fishing location
- Park Size: 1.419 hectares
- Trails: Approximately 4.2 km of developed trails through the park (one way!)
- Suitability: hikers only, due to heavy windfall
- Hazards: Black bears frequent the river, especially during spawning season
- Bike Trails: While the trail is designated as a mountain biking trail, I don’t recommend it. We noticed several riders abandoning their bikes, due to unmaintained and difficult trails.
- Camping: There are no designated campsites within the park, however, there is a rec site located adjacent to the park (see more details below).
- Washrooms: No facilities are provided
- Pets: As this is a Provincial Park, dogs must remain on a leash at all times
Marble River Provincial Park lies within the traditional territory of the Quatsino First Nations. The park protects spawning habitats for various fish species and contains portions of the most important Chinook salmon-producing system on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The park also contains relatively rare and unique karst features.
The park is a popular destination for recreational angling, including fly fishing on the river and tidal water fishing in the marine portion of the park. Chinook, Coho, Steelhead, Cutthroat, Rainbow and Dolly Varden can all be caught in this park. The trail contains several angler-access routes down to the river. The Emerald Pools, located at the end of the trail, is the most popular fly-fishing location within the park.
As always, anglers need to be licenced to fish and should check the current fishing regulations before fishing in this location.
A recreation site, operated by Western Forest Products, sits adjacent to Marble River Provincial Park. The rec site has 16 maintained sites available, free of charge. Half of the sites are located on the lower loop along the Marble River, while the remainder are located in the upper loop sheltered in the trees. The rec site is typically only open from May until October.
There is also a day-use picnic shelter beside the highway that makes for a great place to stop for lunch on your way to Port Alice.
The trail leads through a variety of terrain while meandering through the park. Truth be told, I was hoping for more river views while on the trail. You only get a glimpse of the river here and there until you get to Bear Falls.
There is, however, a section of windfall that is incredible to see. A huge windstorm passed through approximately 5 years ago, and before that, in the early 1900s, decimating the area. Signs posted give information about the earlier storm. BC Parks has since carved a path and provides bridges, steps and fill to help get through the carnage.
The added bridges and stairs, and downed trees make this a difficult trail for mountain bikers. As mentioned briefly above, we saw many trail riders abandon their bikes at various locations, for the trail was not what they were expecting.
These added elements, however, make for a fun and interesting hike! And there is plenty of beauty that surrounds you along the way.
Bear Falls is a beautiful waterfall with great water flow, even during the dry season. Starting in late august, fish use the fish ladder to get access to the nearby spawning grounds. Especially during fall, when the salmon are spawning, black bears frequent the area. Please use caution.
The trail to Bear Falls is 4.2 km, one way. If you want to continue to the Emerald Pools, you’ll be adding even more kms to your hike.
The name is a bit deceiving, for although pretty, the pools are not what I was expecting to see. (I thought the pools would be more like the ones found in this park).
The area is typically used by anglers, as the pools provide a resting spot for fish before trying to attempt the fish ladder. During the hot summer months, the pools also provide a great, safe (cold) spot to swim.
The trail to the pools is unmaintained. There are several portions of the trail that have heavy growth and require a bit of bushwhacking. Continuing to the Emerald Pools also adds another 2km or so to your trek. So, if you are already feeling tired after reaching Bear Falls, I suggest skipping the pools.
Again, this area is frequented by bears, especially during the salmon run starting in late August.
Marble River Provincial Park is located on northern Vancouver Island, at the juncture of Rupert Inlet, Holberg Inlet, Quatsino Sound and Neroutsos Inlet. The park is located approximately 15 km north of Port Alice and 35 km southwest of Port Hardy.
Follow the signs to Port Alice and then to Marble River Provincial Park.
Have you been to Marble River Provincial Park? Let us know about your time there in the comment section below.
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Watching the Salmon Run
If you are interested in watching the salmon run, there are a few other great areas to do so. These include, but are not limited to:
- Quinsam River in Campbell River
- Stamp River Park in Port Alberni
- Big Qualicum River near Qualicum Beach
- Goldstream Park near Victoria