The Alberni Valley Log Train Trail
The Alberni Valley lies in the interior of Vancouver Island and stretches northwest from Port Alberni at the head of the Alberni Inlet approximately 40 kilometers into the mountains of Strathcona Park. This is the Somass River watershed including Sproat and Great Central Lakes. It is an extremely high value river system for all species of salmon and other fish and was renowned for the stands of large forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and balsam.
Today, the lower flat valley bottom is mostly farmland or small rural lots. The sidehills and slopes are primarily private forest lands with less than 10% held as Provincial Crown forest land.
From the start of the nineteenth century until the 1930’s most of the valley bottom and lower mountain slopes were logged using rail grades and locomotives to haul the big timber to mills and ocean ports. The Alberni Valley Log Train trail is one of the legacies of that era which was fortunately protected as a Crown right of way. It went unused for many years but eventually in the late 1980’s was improved and maintained by volunteers and became a significant recreational feature of the Valley.
The Alberni -Clayoquot Regional District has the jurisdiction to govern the trail. Many user groups including the Alberni Valley Chapter of the BCHBC contribute volunteer hours, funding, and seek grants to aid in the improvement or maintenance of the trail. The trail is used by hikers, walkers, pedal and e-bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, and many horse riders.
The main trail is 21 kilometres long and stretches from Highway 4 out into the valley. It is a rail grade and was engineered very well with grades of up to three percent. The old grade is in good shape. Drainage structures are the largest maintenance item.
The trail is at the base of the mountains and is used all year round. Each season brings new beauty. Much of the timber adjacent to the trail is second growth Douglas fir of various sizes and ages with mixed alder, maple, shrubs, and ferns to give the trail a lush and colorful look. There are many open vistas of large farms and the Vancouver Island Mountains.
Areas adjacent to the trail are private, mostly held by a large private forestland owner. There are many unauthorized trails leading from the main trail. The AV BCHBC and other users have a difficult time getting agreement to authorize trails on the private lands and therefore cannot encourage or advertise riding off the main trail except where marked.
The AV Chapter members are proud to support the use and maintenance of the trail for all users but especially equestrians.