There aren’t a lot of walking paths on Vancouver Island that can be enjoyed by virtually everyone, so we were particularly delighted to discover Port Alberni’s Kitsuksis Dyke trail. The dykes were constructed following a devastating tidal wave that came up the Alberni Inlet in the spring of 1964, decimating many of the lower-lying areas of the town.
The path is paved for its entire mile-long (1 ½ km) length and, while there are a few rough spots it is generally in very good condition. The paving makes it a pleasant excursion along the banks of pretty Kitsuksis Creek for walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, in-line skaters and those pushing wheelchairs or baby carriages.
Both sides of the dyke are paved, so it is easy to do a loop that offers different vistas. We began our walk at the southeast end of the walkway and strolled along under budding willow trees. Blair Park, about half way along the east side of the path, is a spacious playground with all sorts of equipment for little ones. We saw several dogs gamboling about there as well – it is obviously a favoured community meeting place.
We continued on towards the end of the paved walkway, noting a lovely large grassy area called Spencer Park – a perfect spot for a picnic or a lazy peaceful retreat.
Just past Spencer Park we crossed a footbridge, then forked right to follow a gravel trail that led to Kitsuksis Falls and the train trestle. A sign on a tree promised the trestle was only five minutes away, so we headed up through a forest of Grand Firs and shortly found ourselves perched on a bench, enjoying the rush of water from the falls and the view of the impressive trestle overhead.
Heading back down the trail we traversed the west side of the paved portion of the pathway, encountering dog walkers, skateboarders and cyclists. The pathway along the west side borders on private properties but there are several access points, all with nicely landscaped entryways. We crossed the lower footbridge to get back to our parking spot, but a variety of parking locations along both sides of the trail means visitors can access any number of routes. We could, in fact, have walked all the way from Victoria Quay at the confluence of Kitsuksis Creek and the Somass River.
Although we visited in the early Spring, autumn offers up its share of attractions along the trail as well. Black bears are often seen foraging for salmon on the opposite bank of the Somass, and coho salmon can be seen jumping up the waterfalls after the first heavy rains in the fall.
Although not of the ‘wild’ variety of trail, the Kitsuksis Dyke walking path has its own unique charms and offers a pleasant outing for people of all abilities. It is an easy walk; we spent about an hour, start to finish, and that included time to stop for photos and a brief stop to admire the falls and the train trestle.
The Kitsuksis Dyke walking path can be accessed from several points. If you want to avoid walking in traffic the best starting point would be at the bottom of Margaret Street, off Gertrude.
The best bet for getting accurate information on this walk is to stop in at the Tourism Information Centre at the eastern entrance to town and ask for a map – the centre has printed directions for access as well as the map included in this story.
GPS co-ordinates for the southeastern access point off of Margaret Street are:
Lat.: 49.258983 Long. -124.814245
N 49 15.539 W 124 48.855