A siren in the lonely woods alerts hikers that BC Hydro is about to release water into the Campbell River. It is a good warning, as water levels are much higher than normal and significantly higher than after our unseasonal summer drought. It also means that it is a good time to get out and view Elk Falls, and the picture to the right shows you what to expect when you get there.
To get there, hikers can begin at BC Hydro’s new John Hart Interpretive Centre, where a well groomed path winds through the picturesque forest and over a sturdy bridge towards Elk Falls Provincial Park.
With mist rising above, you can see the old staves built in the 1940s that snake their way towards the John Hart Dam, and many visitors are astonished to find out that they are made of wood! These will all be replaced as part of the upgrade currently underway for the generating station.
Further along, the river rushes in a torrent to drop over the cliff, creating the spectacular falls, which even at low water times is quite pretty, but now has become quite astounding in its shear force. The word ‘awesome’ although somewhat abused and misused in today’s language, is a fitting word to describe this natural wonder.
Just past the stairs that lead to the river’s edge, the path continues to the Elk Falls viewing platform. The full force of the falls is felt here, along with a steady mist – good place for an umbrella.
Numerous vehicles were parked in the ‘old’ parking area at left, accessed from the end of Brewster Lake Rd, but this will be closed by the end of 2014 as BC Hydro goes into its next phase of the upgrading project for the generating station. Instead, hikers can park in the spacious parking lot at the John Hart Interpretive Centre, staffed by the Museum at Campbell River, that is located just off Hwy 28 at Brewster Lake Rd. and are invited to visit the centre when it is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.