I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
How to Get to the Ripple Rock Trail Trailhead
The Ripple Rock Trail trailhead is located to the north of Campbell River on the North Island Highway (Highway 19). It only takes about 20 minutes to drive there from Campbell River. This wasn't the busiest trail on the day I went and there was lots of parking to choose from. This is a trail where you will need motor transport to get to the trailhead. In the following video, I show you the trailhead map and narrate a little for less than a minute.
Trail Specifications for the Ripple Rock Trail
This is a trail that I hiked in the summer of 2020. In my opinion, it was a certain kind of trail, the kind where I didn't really like the actual trail in itself, however, the viewpoint at the end was beautiful and memorable.
AllTrails.com describes the Ripple Rock Trail as an 8.0 kilometer "out and back trail," meaning that when you hike in you retrace your steps hiking back out. That's different than a loop trail where you enjoy new scenery with each step you take. For elevation, AllTrails.com states that there are 361 meters gained. By my account, most of it is during the back end of the trail.
The start of the trail is relatively flat. There was a boardwalk at one point but it didn't last that long. At other points, there was a very thick bush that encroached onto the trail. After walking the opening segment, you come to a bay or inlet (Menzie's Bay) and that's when the elevation really starts to pick up.
As a slow-paced hiker, this is a trail that took 3.5 hours for me to complete. That included plenty of time at the beautiful viewpoint. Where some trails offer viewpoints that are hardly memorable, the Ripple Rock Trail certainly doesn't disappoint in the same way.
But the trail itself was a little smelly because of the inlet, the trail also had narrow passages, and the bush was thick and intrusive at times. On the plus side, I found that some of the tougher parts of the trail for elevation were followed by lengthy stretches that were flat. That provided time for catching my breath and it made the trip far more enjoyable.
In the next short video, I show you one of the viewpoints that you come across while hiking this trail. In this video, the camera is facing mostly south and overlooking Menzie's Bay.
Final Viewpoint of the Ripple Rock Trail
There was a viewpoint en-route that overlooked the inlet. The final viewpoint overlooked Quadra Island and a narrow passage of saltwater between Vancouver Island and Quadra Island.
It's this passage of water that was scenic and even interesting. On the day I went, the swell and rushing of the water were such that I wasn't totally sure that an Olympic-calibre swimmer could take that narrow channel. I enjoyed watching small ships cruise in and taking this channel head-on, at which point they clearly lost momentum. The whirlpools and rapids will definitely remind you of how powerful nature is.
I certainly would not call his trail a leisurely walk. If you are taking it, then expect to get some meaningful exercise in. There are tree roots that challenge your footing and there are sliding rocks. These difficulties are well worth negotiating as overlooking the Johnstone Strait is an experience that you won't forget. Hopefully, you are as lucky as I was and experience this viewpoint on a day when the water is rushing fast. According to my Airbnb host, there are times when the water is not rushing as impressively as it was on the day I went out.
I am not sure how to go about predicting the best time to see the rapids of the strait. Perhaps it's fair to say that a degree of luck will factor into your experience. In the last video, I show you the end viewpoint but there is no substitute for experiencing this yourself. My camera is just a simple action camera that's meant to be lightweight so it didn't pick up all the details that you will if you take this hike on your own.
The Ripple Rock Trail on AllTrails
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.