- KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth, and many smartphone apps.
- GPX files can be opened by most GPS software apps when KMZ cannot. Note, GPX files do not contain custom colours and icons that we use on our maps; all tracks and icons will appear the same colours and styles. We recommend using KMZ instead when possible.
- GPX-Garmin are GPX files that we have optimized for older Garmin units that only display tracks that contain 500 points or less (such as Garmin eTrex units).
Visit our GPS & Navigation page for instructions of how to use your smartphone as a GPS device (even when outside of data coverage) or how to import data to your Garmin unit.
About the Journey:
This hike in Strathcona Provincial Park features the highest falls in Canada (444 metres/1456 ft.); they are spectacular and a must see destination. It is a 15-km hike to the base of the falls with another hike of nearly 3 km to a viewpoint on the Love Lake-Mount Septimus Trail.
The trailhead is accessed by boat, kayak, or canoe from one end of Grand Central Lake requiring a 33 km trip, the other end of the lake. Many choose to use the shuttle service (see Highlights below).
For those arriving by canoe, there are a few informal campsites along the lake. Scout Beach is a popular recreational site and possible place to launch a canoe (while cutting down on distance to paddle to the Della Falls trailhead). Most suitable camping areas are roughly 3/4 of the way to the Della Falls trailhead along the north shore. There is a rack for kayks and canoes at the trailhead.
The main camps are at the trailhead, Margaret Creek (6.7 km), and near Della Falls (14.2/14.7 km). There is wilderness camping (12.2 km) on a small beach along Drinkwater Creek.
The main trail follows Drinkwater Creek named after a gold prospector who worked this area in 1899. The first 10 km is essentially a rail grade interrupted by creek washouts and water damage causing many detours and walking on slippery rocks crossing creeks. There is frequent water damage on the trail. Bridging at Margaret Creek for example is higher up the creek for an easier crossing but creating quite a climb and descent. There are usually quite a few tree falls requiring ducking under, detouring, or climbing over. The trail is also overgrown in places. From the cable bridge it becomes a rugged single track trail and a bit difficult to follow in spots especially the section just past the wilderness camp where the trail heads over large rocks that are part of an old rock fall from the high cliffs looming above. Flagging is in place for wayfinding. There are many pleasant sections overall and the tree cover is much appreciated for much of the hike.
The falls are at their best in mid July when glacial run off is at its peak. However, visitors in mid-August will find swimming in Love Lake to be much more comfortable!
Mud isn't a huge issue, but gaitors can come in handy due to thorny bushes that you may encounter on the trail.
There is informal parking available around the Great Central Lake RV and Marine resort. The Shuttle operator offers parking at his home approximately 30 minutes away from the RV park.
Stock up on supplies in Port Alberni.
All sites (excluding the wildneress campsite at Drinkwater Creek) have plastic toilets.
Della Falls Hike
Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island
Hike Distance: 15.2 km from the trailhead to the base of Della Falls plus 3 km to Love Lake.
Distance to the trailhead by water: 33 km
Level of Difficulty: Intermediate backpacking – rail grade, rough single track, steep sections from Margaret Creek to the end. The trail, July 3-5, 2013, had not been maintained for quite some time. There is the need to duck under, go over or detour around tree falls, walk across streams. In a few spots the trail is not distinctive and requires following flagging.
Structures on the trail: The main structures were in good condition and therefore usable as of July 3-5. These included substantial bridges and a cable car. Most very small bridging was in need of repair.
Campsites – The campsites at the trailhead, Margaret Creek (6.7 km), near Della Falls (14.2/14.7 km) had level camp pads, bear cash, fire pit, and outhouses (those away from the trailhead were fibreglass moulded open air types). There is one wilderness campsite on the shore of Drinkwater Creek (12.2 km) with a couple spaces only. The trailhead campsite also has picnic tables.
Time to allow: 2 to 3 hrs to Margaret Creek, 5 to 6 hrs to wilderness camp, 5 to 7 hours to Della Falls camp.
Fitness level: Should be in good physical condition and have experienced backcountry hiking.
- Trailhead/Grand Central Lake – 90 metres/295 ft.
- Margaret Camp (6.7 km) – 174 metres/570 ft.
- Cable Car 10.7 km – 368 metres/1207 ft.
- Wilderness Camp - (12.2 km) – 456 metres/1500 ft.
- Junction to Love Lake and Mount Septimus - (14 km) – 580 metres/1900
- Della Camp – (14.3 km) – 563 metres/1850 ft.
- Base of Della Falls (15 km) – 620 metres/2035 ft.
- Della Falls Main Viewpoint – (2.4 km) – 1195 metres/3920 ft.
- Love Lake – (3 km) – 1275 metres/4185 ft.
Elevation change from junction to:
- viewpoint 2020 ft in 2.4 km
Love Lake is 2285 ft in 3 km.