One of the prime nature sites in Campbell River is Elk Falls Provincial Park, which we visited a couple of weeks ago as part of our ongoing Campbell River area explorations.
Elk Falls & Canyon
Elk Falls of course is the most obvious attraction at the Park. Here the Campbell River plunges 25m into the canyon below. The viewing area vantage point does not quite allow a full view of the water spilling over the edge, but plans are in the works to build a suspension bridge across the canyon on the far side of the falls.
Above the Falls
One can access the top of the falls but the wet & slippery rocks have resulted in several fatalities over the years as people approach too close.
It had been quite a few years since I visited & I was reminded of one of the other main attractions – the huge old-growth Douglas-fir & western redcedar , some 400 or more years old.
Just in the vicinity of the parking area are some of the largest trees.
The Day Use Area trails lead upriver, past other waterfalls. I hadn’t previously realized they all had names – Deer Falls could be more accurately called rapids.
Moose Falls is at the top of the series, at the eastern end of John Hart Lake. The total drop in elevation has been used by BC Hydro for power generating since 1947. Their penstock, powerhouse & dam infrastructure are within the boundaries of the Park.
Moose Falls spills into the serene Dolphin Pool.
Giant Douglas-firs at Moose Falls
The old-growth trees were spared by a fire that surrounded the area in 1938.
A persistent Red-breasted Sapsucker brightened the shady woods.
Alder Grove on Millenium Trail
The Millenium Trail connects the Day Use Area trails to the Canyon View Trails through a few km of mixed woods.
Mass of Mosses
The winter sun was at a low angle but patches of wavy-leaved cottonmoss, step moss & Oregon beaked moss still had a rich green glow.
Campbell River Canyon
At the Canyon View Trail, another Park highlight is the deep canyon far below.
Campbell River Canyon View
The bridge crossing allows great views downstream of the widening Campbell River.
Spawning Channel Pool
The east riverside trail leads past spawning channels & pools created for salmon enhancement. Fishing has a long history in the City of Campbell River which considers itself the Salmon Capital of the World .
After a few more km a logging road bridge crosses the Campbell River once again.
Mergansers in the River
Fish-eating birds flocked to the river.
Gulls were most abundant, watching the rapids for carcasses of fish.
Powerhouse & Dam
The west riverside trail follows the highway & then to the BC Hydro property. The Station View Trail has been created to bypass the Hydro infrastructure, which is undergoing major changes over the next few years. For now, one choice to continue the Canyon View Loop is to cross the metal grating accessway over the dam at the powerhouse.
From this vantage point there is a great view up at the bridge over the canyon.
Alder Grove above the Powerhouse
Past the industrial infrastructure, the path becomes more natural once again toward the junction back with the Millenium Trail. Exploring all the trails is about a 13 km hike with about 300m cumulative elevation gain.