Della Falls Trail near Port Alberni leads hikers from the head of Great Central
Lake to the base of the highest waterfall in Canada (440 metres high, 1443 feet),
a cascade from Della Lake.
Della Falls, Vancouver
This 16 km trail, by way of Drinkwater Creek,
is a long hike taking about 7 hours one way, and suitable for intermediate level
hikers. The trail was originally built by a trapper, Joe Drinkwater, who also
started the Ark Resort. Della Falls is named after his wife.
The trail starts at the lakehead's eastern shore, where BC Parks has developed
a campground with a bear-proof cache and a pit toilet. Along the trail, all the
suspension bridges have been replaced with timber bridges. Much of the 16 km trail
follows an old roadbed left behind from logging and mining early in this century.
The first 7 km follows a flat road bed through a mixed second growth forest to
Margaret Creek. Once across the bridge at this creek the road bed continues through
some old growth forest for 4 km, gently gaining elevation.
up the valley a new bridge over a nice gorge crosses Drinkwater Creek and from
there the trail continues more roughly to a bridge at 12.5 km. Beyond this bridge
the roughest section of the trail passes through a rock slide which pushes you
close to the creek. Gaining elevation again, the road bed leads up to the Love
Lake trail/Mount Septimus junction at about 15 km. The last kilometre to Della
Falls emerges from open old growth forest into an avalanche run-out zone to the
base of the falls. Campfires are permitted, but discouraged.
Looking down on
Love Lake in Strathcona, still frozen in August.
Photo: Brad and Kathy Powell
the summers of 1983 and 1984 work crews improved the trail up to the falls and
built several bridges. In 1995 it was in good shape because BC Parks has concentrated
on new bridge construction. Camping is good on the north side of Drinkwater Creek
about 1 km below the falls, which are visible from the campsite. These well-known
falls are in three successive drops, each about 150 m. A climb to the top of the
falls is possible, but a little dangerous.
There is much evidence of
the extensive mining activity in this area. Please do not remove or destroy any
of the remaining mining equipment, which now forms part of the historical record.
For Great Central
Lake drive 13 km west of Port Alberni
on Highway 4 and instead of turning towards Sproat Lake go straight ahead on Great
Central Lake Road for 8 km. It takes 20 minutes to the Ark Resort, where you can
park for a small fee and take a boat to Della Falls trailhead. Allow three days
for a round trip if using a power boat, and six by canoe.
A useful alternative
if you have your own boat is to drive to another access road about halfway down
the lake on the north side. For this approach, drive out on the great Central
Lake Road, and just before reaching the Ark Resort, turn right onto a gravel logging
road. After about 7 km turn left onto Ash Power Plant Road. About 1 km on, bear
right, then after just under 5 km bear left downhill. After about another 4.5
km make 2 sharp lefts.
Looking up the
valley into the heart of Strathcona Park.
Photo: Brad and Kathy Powell
The road continues
about 1.5 km to an undeveloped camping area and the lakeshore. From here a 2.5
km trail follows up a wide valley to Lowry Lake where great fishing is
to be found. From the lakeshore camping area, canoeing time to the head of the
lake is about four or five hours.
north and south shores of this narrow lake (about 33 km long) are very precipitous,
so if canoeing, an early start is recommended. The lake is usually windswept by
west winds in mid-afternoon and the water can be very rough with whitecaps. There
are a few possible campsites about halfway along the north shore; those along
the south shore are a little better.
Hiking trails in Strathcona
Falls Nature Walk
Albert Edward Trail
Click for companies that offer Hiking
& Backpacking services, or visit our Recreation
section for more information on Hiking and Backpacking in British Columbia.
Trail information for Vancouver Island is provided in three superb Hiking
Trails guides by the Vancouver
Island Trails Information Society.