Waterfalls of Vancouver Island

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Waterfalls of Vancouver Island

NANCY SHIELDS

There's something magical about waterfalls. From hearing roaring water from a distance to up close and personal, each waterfall is wonderfully unique. They intrigue us, inspire us, and are one of nature's greatest beauties. Living on Vancouver Island, has given me the opportunity to check out countless waterfalls. The hikes to each waterfall varies in degree of difficulty but each destination is worth the journey. Winter on the west coast is typically the best time for viewing waterfalls. All that rain makes for spectacular cascades.
 

Here is my top 10 list of waterfalls to check out while you explore Vancouver Island. Some you may know of, others are waiting for you to discover.

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1) Little Qualicum Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

Location: 19 km north of Parksville on Hwy 4 watch for signs, it's hard to miss as this is a Provincial Park.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Little Qualicum Falls is one of Vancouver Island's best and biggest waterfalls. It is easily accessible from Parksville and a true crowd pleaser for tourists and locals alike. You’ll love the trail with its rustic steps and bridges. Pack a picnic as there are covered areas for you to enjoy a snack while exploring.
 

2) Englishman River Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

Location: Near Errington BC, look for signs, again, this one is hard to miss as it is a Provincial Park.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Englishman River Falls is a hot spot in the summer. There are several swimming holes near by and it is one of the easiest waterfalls to hike to while on Vancouver Island. Be sure to check out this waterfall!
 

3) Stocking Creek Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Moderate

Location: Near Ladysmith, go east off the Trans-Canada Highway onto Chemainus Rd. Then turn right onto Thicke Rd. Keep an eye out for “Stocking Creek” signs. Once parked, walk about 2 km on the paths within the park and listen for the falls.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Stocking Creek Falls is one of my favourite waterfalls. It is rather small in height but is relatively wide. Carefully step along the mossy trail to go between the cascading water and the overhanging cliff. Poke your head into the flow for a quick refresher in summer months.

4) Stotan Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

Location: While in the Comox Valley, head up Lake Trail Road in Courtenay and turn right on the Comox Logging Road. Stay on the logging road, veering right when you reach the industrial area. A short drive further you’ll come across the water pipeline followed by a second bridge. You will see rapids, park after crossing the second bridge. Listen for the falls and enjoy the adventure!

Stotan Falls is one of the Comox Valley's best kept secrets. It is a local favourite in the summer for swimming and jumping off the falls. Since it is quite unknown, you will be treated to sheer solitude.
 

5) Beach Estates Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

Location: In Nanaimo, park at Brooks Landing (near the Tim Hortons). Cross the street to Hope Lutheran Church where you can access the trailhead from the church parking lot. Head down the stairs and you will reach the bottom of the falls.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Another gem of a waterfall here. Grab a coffee from the Tim Hortons that is about 200m from the bottom of the falls, kick back and enjoy!

6) Granny Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Moderate

Location: In Nanaimo, head to Colliery Dam Park. From the parking lot, walk to the west towards the Nanaimo Parkway. Cross a wooden bridge, and keep going west. You’ll come to a tunnel under the highway. These falls are just a minute past the end of the tunnel and will not disappoint!

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Granny Falls is a gorgeous hike in the heart of Nanaimo. Enjoy the stroll in Colliery Dam Park, there are several km's worth of trails to check out. The falls are often populated with folks that are walking their dogs who always end up in the water.
 

7) Lupin Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy

Location: Take the Island highway north to Campbell River, hang a left onto highway 28. After driving on highway 28 for about 40 minutes, stay left on Westmin Road south to Lupin Falls parking lot (there is signage). The falls are a quick 800m into the forest, you will be able to hear them from the parking lot.

Lupin Falls is one of those classic west coast waterfalls. Tall and skinny. Enjoy the deep forest while being treated to the break in the trees and sunshine where the falls come in. Depending on the time of year the falls can be thundering with spring rain or just a trickle, surrounded by fall foliage.
 

8) Niagara Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Easy
 

Location: Head to Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria. From the day-use parking lot off of Island Highway, walk northward and away from the picnic area following the wide gravel trail. At the junction, go left and follow the trail as it passes through a scenic forest before arriving at a bridge with a tunnel on your left that passes under the highway. **Note as the stream runs through the tunnel, this walk can sometimes be inaccessible or very wet.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

No, we are not exploring Ontario. Before I knew about this waterfall, I had driven past it about 100 times while travelling down to Victoria. Now, when I pass by, I can see the corner of it from the highway!

9) Elk Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Moderate

Location: While in Campbell River, turn right off Highway 28 onto the Brewster Lake Road. There will be a large parking lot with outhouses. Start the trail here, cross the gorge using a suspension bridge that goes across massive hydro pipes and follow the signage.

Photographer
Nancy Shields

Elk Falls is an awesome place to check out if you are only on Vancouver Island for a short time. The Campbell River Rotary has recently erected the suspension bridge to give you better views of the falls. There is a nearby campground if you are interested in sticking around and exploring more.

10) Trent Falls

Hiking Difficulty: Difficult

Location: Access to the trailhead is from the north bound lane of the Inland Island Highway on the north side of the Trent River Bridge, near the Comox Valley.

There are two rough tracks lead into the forest by the parking area, follow the path that has a bit of a dip, but isn’t ditched. At the end of the path there is a couple of pullouts. Look for a well used trail that leads off to the left. Follow it to the top of the slope down to the river.

Look for ropes as the decent down is quite steep.

Trent Falls is another one of my favourite waterfalls. It is tall, massive and powerful. Be careful when descending to the falls as the slope can be slippery. Make sure to bring a towel and some lunch as there is a swimming hole at the base. In the winter, Trent Falls makes for gorgeous photos, videos and all around good times.
 

BONUS 11) Medicine Bowls on Brown's River

Hiking Difficulty: Difficult

Location: **Note that is a very difficult and dangerous hike, it also will require a 4x4 vehicle.

While in the Comox Valley, head to Forbidden Plateau Road. Drive for approximately 8 km where there will be an unmarked turnoff to the right as Forbidden Plateau Road curves sharply to the left. Take this gravel road to the right. Drive approximately 1.6 km to the end of this dead-end road where there is an undeveloped parking lot and turn-around in the bush. Do not take any low-clearance vehicles on this road as it is full of potholes, is very rough and has some narrow sections along the route.

Once parked, look for a river stone memorial. This is the start of an unmarked trail that will take you to the Browns River and the site of the Medicine Bowls, usually a 10 to 15-minute walk along a dirt path, travelling through a maze of other lesser trails.

 

Photographer
Nancy Shields

I stumbled upon the Medicine Bowls by chance one day, and it was one of those Ah-ha moments of my life. The Medicine Bowls are wonderful displays of how water shapes our world. There is a series of three bowls, each of them having their own waterfall. Be careful while viewing them as the rocks surrounding can be quite slippery.

If You Go:

For more ideas on what to see and where to go on Vancouver Island check out HelloBC.com or TourismVancouverIsland.ca

Contact Tourism Vancouver Island at (250) 754-3500

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