Ripple Rock Campbell River - Vancouver Island Hike
Updated: Mar 30
The Ripple Rock hike is a 7.7 kilometre out and back trek to the Ripple Rock viewpoint. The hike is around four hours, depending on how aggressively you set your pace. There’s beaches, stairs, ropes and lookouts, everything you could want in an afternoon mini-adventure.
The greatest part of this hike is the main lookout over the Seymour Narrows. This is the site of the spectacular Ripple Rock explosion. Today, the water swirls in the narrows, but prior to 1958, this passage was a major shipping hazard.
Ripple Rock was an underwater mountain in the Seymour Narrows between Vancouver and Maude Island. With only three metres of clearance at low tide, the rock was responsible for the damage or sinking of more than 120 vessels and the loss of at least 114 lives. Captain George Vancouver called it "one of the vilest stretches of water in the world."
As an extreme marine hazard, Ripple Rock had to be removed. Two attempts were made to explode the rock before the final successful blast on April 5th, 1958. After the failed attempts, it was decided to build an underwater shaft up to the base of Ripple Rock to explode the mound from beneath. A 762-metre tunnel was drilled into the bottom of the rock where 1,270 tonnes of explosives we packed into the foundation. This is ten times the amount of explosives needed to for a similar explosion above water and would make for the largest non-nuclear blast at the time.
When the explosion launched, 635,028 tonnes of rock and water erupted over 305 metres into the air. The blast was broadcast nationwide. The result allowed the channel to have a clearance of fourteen metres, rather than the original three.
From the viewpoint under the power lines you can see water swirling in the pass and get a great vantage of the narrows.
Watch this incredible National Film Board of Canada video for more information (warning, your repressed claustrophobia will be triggered watching the men ride on boxes of explosives through leaky undersea tunnels). Or read this Campbell River Museum piece.
The trailhead is about 17-kilometres out of downtown Campbell River. Head north along the North Island until you see the signs for the Ripple Rock Trailhead (on the right).
Other Vancouver Island Hikes