Akolkolex River Falls Trail

Rating: 2 stars.

Use: Hiking.

Difficulty: Easy to viewpoints, moderate to the bottom.

Distance:  250 m to the first viewpoint, 500 m to the second viewpoint. Just over 2 km return to the end of the trail and the valley bottom.

Description: Not much of a trail but it does lead to a couple of viewpoints over some very powerful falls. Worth the drive. There are two lookouts. The first one is secure with fencing but unfortunately it doesn’t give a great perspective of the falls. The second viewpoint is spectacular but very, very dangerous. There is no fencing at the second lookout. The short spur trail leading to this lookout ends abruptly much like a gangplank from a ship. At the end of this spur you will be looking straight down from a rock knob hundreds of feet below. A spectacular viewpoint of the falls, but not for the faint of heart or clumsy. Definitely do not bring your small children or dog down this spur trail. The main trail continues down another half a kilometre down to the valley floor. This section of trail isn’t the best and is very steep as you near the bottom. In the early spring or fall this is worth the hike. In late spring or summer, it is not recommended as the river will be in full flood and will prevent you from exploring the river at its confluence with the Columbia River. There are also a couple of really rough, really steep trails that branch off the main trail that will get you down to the river bed above and below the falls. Again, very dangerous. Only to be explored by those comfortable on steep ground, in dry conditions and low water.

Directions: Follow Airport Way Road south past the airport. Continue past the end of the pavement. Turn left onto the Akolkolex FSR. 7.2 km from the start of the Akolkolex FSR you will come to a road on the right. At this point you can either continue along the Akolkolex FSR, otherwise know as the ‘Long’ way, or take this right turn onto the ‘Hard’ way. I wouldn’t suggest taking the Hard way unless you have a 4X4 high clearance vehicle. The Hard way will save you time but it is one of the steeper roads around. If you decide to take the Long way make sure you don’t miss the right turn switchback about five kilometres past the Hard way turnoff that redirects you downstream again towards the falls. If you miss the turn you will continue upstream to the back end of the Akolkolex. Nearing the end of the Long way make a turn onto the last road on the right just before you cross the Akolkolex River bridge. You will see a parking lot pullout on your left. If you take the Hard way, follow it almost to its end. You will see the pullout parking lot on the right just before the Hard way meets up again with the Long way.

Trailhead GPS:

  1. Akolkolex FSR: N50 52.725 W118 05.857
  2. Hardway Start: N50 50.439 W118 02.824
  3. Akolkolex FSR switchback: N50 51.438 W117 59.180
  4. Akolkolex Falls trailhead: N50 49.701 W118 01.951
  5. Akolkolex Falls first viewpoint: N50 49.586 W118 01.834
  6. Akolkolex Falls second viewpoint: N50 49.467 W118 01.805
  7. Akolkolex Falls Valley Bottom: N50 49.469 W118 02.007

Useful Maps: Backroads Mapbook.

Akolkolex Falls Trail Overview Map PDF

Akolkolex Falls Trail Detail Map PDF

View of the Akolkolex Falls from the first viewpoint. Ben Wilkey Collection.
View of the River downstream from the first viewpoint. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The second viewpoint gangplank. Use extreme caution. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The view of the falls from the second viewpoint. Ben Wilkey Collection.
The mouth of the Akolkolex River from the end of the trail. Photo was taken at high water. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Looking downstream from the end of the trail. Ben Wilkey Collection.
Akolkolex Falls canyon at low water. Viktoria Gridley-Haack Collection.
Akolkolex Falls canyon at low water. Viktoria Gridley-Haack Collection.
Akolkolex Falls. Viktoria Gridley-Haack Collection.
Akolkolex Falls. Viktoria Gridley-Haack Collection.
Akolkolex Falls. Viktoria Gridley-Haack
Akolkolex Falls. Viktoria Gridley-Haack Collection.

6 thoughts on “Akolkolex River Falls Trail

  1. Anyone looking for a bit more of a hike can follow the trail to the right of the fenced off lookout, this well maintained, clear trail follows the gorge for a while~then breaks off in a steep downhill section that ends where the Akolkolex meets the Arrow lakes. Well worth the climb down, with gorgeous views of the lower-falls as the river exits the main gorge.
    Its also worth checking out the rock formations that can be seen when the river is at low water, rough trails both above and below the upper falls lead out onto the river bed~use caution as the rocks are very slippery.( Not recommended when the river is running high.)

  2. These are incomplete directions to the trail head.

    I drove 2 hours this morning looking for the bridge and trailhead only to come back to Revelstoke disappointed. What km is the bridge at? There are various turn offs after the ‘7.2’ km ‘hard’ path and without compete directions we crossed 2 bridges without a trial head in site and passed 2 turn offs without being sure with way to turn. Please post complete directions – or if your planning to go, talk to someone first or go with someone who has been before or you’ll be driving down a dirt road without seeing anything.
    Thank you!!

    1. Jasmine, Thank you for the comment. It is good to get feedback from someone going there for the first time as I have been there dozens of times! I will have another look at the directions and try to update them ASAP. Ironically I drove the ‘Hardway’ on my way to McCrae yesterday. Not only has the ‘Hardway’ signage been removed but I think the Akolkolex Trailhead signage has fallen down or been removed in recent times as I didn’t actually see it myself. That may have been a move by Forestry to dissuade people from hiking the trail as the fencing along the viewpoints is now insufficient.

  3. For those wondering if they can make it down the hard way, I went in my Honda CRV in dry conditions. It’s AWD, not FWD and not a super high clearance. It’s steep but ok as it’s a descent. I didn’t go that way on the way back. Also, there’s a sign on the hard way. I made a turn on the right just before it which went nowhere. 🙂

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