For all the time I have spent in the Alberni Valley over the past forty years I had never heard of the Hole in the Wall until this past summer, when it began popping up on various internet connections that I am plugged in to. It’s kind of an obscure feature of the valley, which is host to a huge number of beautiful trails and hiking opportunities – one of those gems known by locals but not particularly well-publicized out there in the big, wide world. I am a sucker for pretty waterfalls and forest walks so, curiousity piqued, we headed over to Port Alberni one recent bright autumn afternoon.
There isn’t a lot of information available about the Hole in the Wall other than the fact that it served as a shortcut for the water supply for the Town of Alberni prior to the 1967 amalgamation of the town and Port Alberni. The backside of the hole, which is blasted through a massive wall of volcanic shale, served as the town’s water reservoir, and the hole provided the most direct delivery route. There isn’t much left to indicate that this landmark ever served any particular purpose.
We began our adventure by parking our van in a small pull-out on Highway 4, just up and across the road from Coombs Country Candy, which is the most easily visible landmark on the way into Port Alberni. The trail is not maintained and is unmarked, so best to pay close attention to your location once you strike out on foot. We headed down a fairly short, steep slope then levelled off and followed the main trail to where it diverged, taking the right fork. We carried on for a few more minutes before branching left on to another fork, which featured a trickling underground spring that had us navigating through very shallow water the rest of the way down the hill to our final destination. Depending on the time of year that you are doing the hike this feature may be more noticeable (or not), but it was the only distinguishing element that convinced us that we needed to take that particular route due to the fact that we had ferreted out that information on the internet prior to doing the hike. There are spots on the long downward slope that can be a little dicey for footing, but anyone with any semblance of balance (and a sturdy pair of shoes) should be able to traverse it with no trouble.
About 20 minutes in we ended up at the Hole in the Wall, which was every bit as impressive and beautiful as we had hoped. A small waterfall tumbles out of the hole, which we estimated at about 12 feet high, into Roger Creek, providing a serene and unique experience just minutes from the traffic of a busy highway. We wandered a little further along the trail and discovered a collection if inuksuks that had been constructed along the creekbed – another delightful surprise. Over all, this hike was well worth the effort to get there and back – it wasn’t particularly difficult and it offered up a one-of-a-kind experience. Next time, I’m taking along a picnic lunch and a good book!
The best starting point to get to the Hole in the Wall is, as mentioned earlier, from the small pull-off off Highway 4.
GPS co-ordinates for the pull-off are:
Lat. 49.2652281792813 Long. -124.74592566490173
N 49 15.914 W 124 44.756