City of Port Alberni VISPINE Route (14 km)

A well groomed, rural to urban footpath and bike trail that is generally flat, but has some hilly portions. The trail has many interesting and worthwhile diversions along its route.  

Hike and Bike

The Trail 

The section of the Vancouver Island Spine Trail that runs from the south end of Port Alberni to McLean’s Mill is generally about the width of a railway track and suitable for mountain bikes but with a few challenging hills. The starting point from the south is the parking lot for stage 1 of the Alberni Inlet Trail at the intersection of Anderson Avenue and Ship Creek Road. Travel north on Anderson for a couple of hundred meters to a trail sign and map. A well-graveled trail which leads around the perimeter of Port Alberni branches off to the East and rises steeply to arc around a built-up area. The main trail is unmistakable although two short trails come in from the left and the Australian cable trail comes in from the right. Stick to the widest trail which also happens to be the steepest one. Along this section the trail passes the Fir Baby and other mountain bike trails as well as a trail to Comox Street.

The arced portion of the trail ends at an old logging railway grade known as the Maquinna Trail. Turn right on this well-signed trail and follow along past a marked turnoff to China Creek Road. Turn left at North 49 10.934 West 124 46.903 (the wider trail) and walk past the Rugby field until you reach Argyle Street. The walking time from start to Argyle Street, about 3 kilometers, is about 45 minutes. The trail continues straight ahead here passing through a subdivision for a few blocks then turning west to parallel Dry Creek.

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Dry Creek Bridge

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One of the many of the herd of plastic dinosaurs.

Stay on the gravel trail close to the creek until you reach a sign directing you to Estevan street. The trail descends steeply through a herd of plastic dinosaurs to Dry Creek Bridge. At the top of the hill on the north side of Dry Creek, turn right. (A left turn would lead to nearby Estevan Street.) At the next trail intersection turn right. The trail curves back toward Dry Creek and passes two straight trails leading north. Turn left on the second of these. You are now on the Log Train Trail (LTT). (The trail that you turned off of is called the Carriere Trail and provides a nice short walk high along the bank of Dry Creek).

After a short distance you will come to the point where the Log Train Trail crosses Burde Street, a 30 minute walk from Argyle Street. There is good parking here as well as a posted map and signage. Continuing straight ahead you will note a beaver dam and short trail leading to a view of one of the two Beaver Ponds. Being an old railway grade, the Log Train Trail proceeds in a generally straight direction.

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Signage for Log Train Trail versus Estevan Drive

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Lower Beaver Pond

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The Log Train Trail

 

DIVERSION

               A trail branches off to the right at a signpost marking it as the Beaver Pond Trail. It leads to the upper beaver pond but can also be followed until it arcs around and reconnects with the Log Train Trail. 

 

Further along the LTT there are signs to the Piso Mojado trail and Heidi’s Trail. These are narrow walking trails in contrast to the broad Log Train Trail. The main trail continues to a dip across a creek where a trestle once stood. When the trail splits on the north side of the dip, keep left. At the top of the hill note the remains of the massive trestle that once spanned Rogers Creek.

When you reach Rogers Creek you will note the Rogers Creek Trail paralleling the creek. A left turn leads to a parking lot on the Redford Street Extension. A right turn leads upstream.

 

 

DIVERSION

The Rogers Creek Trail is well worth exploring. It is a shady creek walk on a hot summer day. There is a network of trails too complex to describe here but it leads to the Hole in the Wall which is second only to Cathedral Grove as a Port Alberni attraction. It also leads by a series of interconnecting trails to the top of the Hump where there is another major network of trails through a surprisingly open park-like forest on the south side of the highway as well as the 1886 Alberni Wagon Road trail that connects Loon and Summit Lakes on the north side. It should be noted that this is not the best way to access the Hole in the Wall because Rogers Creek can only be crossed at low water levels.

 

Back on the Spine Trail you will note a picnic table behind a wooden arch inscribed Bavarian Beer Garden. This is in honor of Frank Stini whose imagination and labour turned an overgrown logging railway into the Log Train Trail. Cross the bridge and continue along the LTT until you reach the intersection of Maebelle Road and the Redford Street Extension. Total walking time from the start to Maebelle Road is about 2 hours and roughly 7 kilometers remains of the portion of the Spine Trail covered by this blog. It is necessary to travel along Maebelle Road for a distance of 1.1 kilometers because portions of the LTT have been built over. Cross over the Tofino Highway and continue along Maebelle until it ends. At this point turn right on an obvious trail and follow it until it rejoins the LTT and then turn left.

 

DIVERSION

Just after passing the motocross pit you will come to the Cold Creek crossing. Note a sign pointing to Cold Creek Falls. This is a short walk but worth doing during the Monsoon Season when the falls are at their best.  

 

When you come to the powerline turn right. In less than 100 meters you will note a trail branching off to the left. This again is the LTT and leads to some lovely pastoral views and eventually to Horne Lake Road.

 

DIVERSION

Where the LTT meets Horne Lake Road you will note a trail on the right with a sign marking the Historic Horne Lake Trail. It is possible to walk to Horne Lake this way as it would have been to walk up the powerline that you recently passed, but much of the route is along logging roads, gas lines or powerlines depending on which route is chosen. A few hundred meters along the Horne Lake Trail you will note the Platzer Creek Trail branching off to the left. This leads steeply up to the CPR tracks. Once reaching the tracks the trail continues uphill a few feet to the right along the tracks. Walking left along the tracks for a couple of hundred meters there is a sign for the Grouch Grind. Both the Platzer Creek Trail and the Grouch Grind lead to impressive viewpoints overlooking the Alberni Valley. It is possible to make a loop going up one trail and down the other as they both terminate on Mclean Main logging road. Bear in mind that both trails are seriously steep.

 

There is a short road walk around a built-over section of the LTT from Horne Lake Road. Continue straight ahead along Tahlen road for one block, turn right on Desmond for one block and then you are back onto the LTT. There is limited parking in front of the LTT gate.  Continue along the LTT until you reach a sign pointing to the Beauforts.  The Blog ends at this sign (North 49 18.891 West 124 49.000) but the LTT continues straight ahead along the base of the Beauforts to the far end of the Beaver Creek District. A sharp right turn leads to roads that will take you to the top of Mr. Irwin, the southernmost of the 10 Beaufort summits. A left turn will take you to the Mclean Mill National historic site.  Visitors merely passing through the grounds of the old steam powered sawmill are graciously permitted not to pay the usual admittance fee. Take care if parking in the site parking lot not to get locked in behind a gate.

 

Parking:  Southern end Parking Lot for Alberni Inlet Trail Stage 1 ; Northern End Mclean Mill National Historic Site (please read caution above in text)

As recorded by Stephen Stirling /September 2017

 

 

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