One of the prettiest, easiest and most accessible trails on Vancouver Island is hidden in the back-of-beyond in the Alberni Valley. The Maplehurst Trail system commences at the end of a secluded road and offers hikes of varying lengths and difficulty.
We spent about an hour exploring the pretty pathways along the Maplehurst Trail on a bright, early Spring morning. There had been a lot of rain the previous week and there were a few muddy/wet spots, but for the most part these areas can be crossed using the wooden stepping ‘stones’ and small bridges that appear frequently along the route.
There are several loop trails that can be accessed off the main trail, which runs along – and above – Kitsuksis Creek.
When we got to the end of Willow Road in search of the access point to the trail there were a couple of other vehicles parked along the roadside. By the time we returned to the van an hour later there were several more vehicles – obviously there were a lot of folks out enjoying the trails, yet we never saw another soul during the course of our explorations. The diverse loop offerings seem to take people in all different directions.
Hiking along the main east trail is an easy walk, but those with children will need to keep them close at hand – there are a couple of very steep drops to the beautiful (and, on this day, raging) Kitsuksis Creek. A couple of smaller loops that ran closer to the creek were a temptation, but we carried on along the main route, then cut across to the western main leg, which is an old wood road. The Maplehurst Trail area was logged in the 1950s, but second-growth conifers and deciduous trees provide plenty of green. Huge quantities of Spanish moss drape off many of the trees as well, creating a rather eerie ambiance on some parts of the trail
The beauty of the Maplehurst Trail system is that, while it is quite easy to traverse and well-maintained it isn’t over the top. The natural flora and fauna have been left to their own devices, creating pretty, narrow moss-lined paths. As mentioned earlier, improvements have been made to increase accessibility through the many muddy and wet spots, but they are rustic and fit in nicely with the surroundings.
We found a number of whimsical additions to the trail during our hike, too. Small adornments of varying shape and colour can be found on stumps, hanging from branches or nestled at the bases of trees.
Dogs would enjoy these trails, but best to keep them on leash due to steep drops to the creek and occasional wildlife activity.
In total, the Maplehurst trails are 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometres) long, and can be hiked in the space of a couple of hours. Time constraints meant we hiked the shortest of the loops, but we are eager to return and explore this lovely jewel of a trail system further – the promise of more pretty trails and the sights and sounds of the creek will draw us back, for sure.
Further information on the Maplehurst Trail can be found at the website:
Or, you can stop in at the Tourist Information Centre at the east entrance to Port Alberni and ask for a brochure for the trail system.
Access to the Maplehurst Trail is from the end of Willow Road in the Cherry Creek area of Port Alberni.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.276395 Long. -124.802313
N 49 16.584 W 124 48.139