Rating: 2 stars.
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.
- Akolkolex FSR: N50 52.725 W118 05.857
- Hardway Start: N50 50.439 W118 02.824
- Akolkolex FSR switchback: N50 51.438 W117 59.180
- Akolkolex Falls trailhead: N50 49.701 W118 01.951
- Akolkolex Falls first viewpoint: N50 49.586 W118 01.834
- Akolkolex Falls second viewpoint: N50 49.467 W118 01.805
- Akolkolex Falls Valley Bottom: N50 49.469 W118 02.007
Useful Maps: Backroads Mapbook.