Merge & Al's Excellent Adventures

7 min read

Waterfalls, suspension bridges, and salmon

Oh first adventure today was to Elk Falls Provincial Park. As far as I’m concerned, this place scores the perfect trifecta. A beautiful waterfall, a fun suspension bridge, and hiking trails galore. Be aware, if you use GPS to get here, you may arrive at one of the small parking areas at the edge of one of the many trails. That is not the correct place to stop, if you want to get to the falls and the suspension bridge directly, you need to continue another 3 km north on Highway 28 and look for the big signs on the right hand side of the road. This property that contains the access to the Falls and bridge is actually owned by BC Hydro, but they welcome visitors as long as you stay on the marked trails. There’s a large parking lot, with plenty of room to park cars and RVs. There’s also a Discovery Centre just before you get on the trail to the falls, and it’s definitely worth a visit. It not only has some great overview maps of the area, but if you’re interested, it also has some interesting photographs of the building of the various BC Hydro dam facilities.

The Discovery Centre at Elk Falls
The top of the hike to the Falls and suspension bridge
The beautiful old growth forest in the park
The moss-covered logs up close

There are about 6 km of trails in this park, but the trail to the Falls is a relatively easy 800m or so, one way. The hardest part is the series of stairs at the very end that get you to the suspension bridge. The suspension bridge was only built in 2009 through an initiative sponsored by the Rotary Club of Campbell River who wanted to create a tourist attraction that would bring more visitors to the area. They succeeded. Not only are the Falls beautiful with the sound of thundering water, but the suspension bridge is directly over it, and looking down right over the Falls is a wonderful experience.

A view of Elk Falls from the trail
All the hiking trails!
The suspension bridge
The falls just behind Al on the suspension bridge

If you want to get to the other side of the Falls to view it from another lookout, it’s an additional 600m or so. Make sure to double that amount if you are going, because this one-way only. Merge didn’t do the hike to the second lookout, but Al went to get some great photos. If you love hiking, be sure to leave yourself sufficient time to do one or two more. Some of the other hikes that we’ve heard great things about but we didn’t have time for are The Riverside Loop trail, the Old Growth Loop trail, the Canyon View trail, and the Millennium trail.

A view from the other side: Look carefully, you can see the suspension bridge
Another view from the other side, suspension bridge still visible
From the second lookout opposite the suspension bridge
The hand print on this tree stump gives you a sense of how big it was when it toppled

After a wonderful few hours at Elk Falls Provincial Park, it was time for lunch. So we headed back to town to the Java Shack which had been highly recommended to us by Karen, the owner of the Driftwood Resort. We had been warned that their sandwiches were huge, so up sharing one. The staff brings the food out to you, but instead of giving you a table number they give you an animal. We got a giraffe! The staff were exceptionally friendly and welcoming, and the sandwich was very good. While Al settled for a regular coffee, Merge couldn’t resist trying the Cheeky Monkey. The Cheeky Monkey is a delicious blend of mocha, espresso and banana.

The Java Shack
Merge with a Cheeky Monkey and a giraffe!

Fueled up, our next stop was the Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery. This is a federal government facility run by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The hatchery is one of the largest in Canada’s Salmonid Enhancement program. It was opened in 1974 to enhance the number of coho and steelhead salmon in the Quinsam River, and to restore the number of chinook salmon in the Campbell River. This program has been very successful, and the staff here are very proud of their success. while you were here, the pink salmon we’re running, so we went outside to the river to take a look. Hundreds upon thousands of them all swimming upstream and climbing over the ladders to get to the spawning area. It really was worth watching. Our only regret: apparently just shortly before we arrived, a mama black bear and her cub came down on the other side of the river, caught some salmon and went up again into the bushes. We were very disappointed to have missed them. We stuck around for a while, but mama and baby did not return 😟.

Since today was Al‘s birthday, we had a special dinner planned at Anglers restaurant at the Dolphin resort just north of the city. We were not disappointed! The view looking out over Discovery Pass was magical, and the dinner was really very very good. We started by sharing a plate of mussels and frites. Than Al had the ling cod entree which was cooked perfectly. It was accompanied by a fennel, tomato and herb butter sauce and a lemon gremolata risotto.And Merge had the seafood linguine containing house made pasta, shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels in a lemon cream sauce. Not only was our server Alex absolutely delightful, but the other couples sitting around us were very friendly. We learned that the table next to us was also celebrating a birthday today, and the couple behind us was celebrating their anniversary. The couple at the table behind us were actually the owners of a breakfast/lunch restaurant in town called the Ideal Café. When they left, we discovered that they had sent us a small gift, Drambuie shooters. What a lovely surprise! We look forward to going to their restaurant later on in our state to say very special thank you. The evening of surprise it was not over though. Before we left Alex gifted us a box of dessert to take away, a Meyer lemon tart with fresh berries! What a wonderful birthday evening!

Tomorrow is a big day for us, we are scheduled to go out with a First Nations company called Homalco tours to see if we can spot black bears and grizzly bears. We’ll tell you more about how we did in our next blog post.

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