Some of the most awe inspiring scenery in British Columbia can be found by hiking through a forest to watch a waterfall cascade over a cliff, and empty into a lake or river below.
James Bruce Falls, near Princess Louisa Inlet up the Sunshine Coast, is thought to be the tallest waterfall in B.C. measuring 2755 feet (840 metres). For comparison’s sake, Niagara Falls on the Ontario/New York border drops 176 feet (53 metres). James Bruce Falls can’t be reached by road, only by a combination of a boat or float plane, and then hiking. Charter boat tours are available from Sechelt and other Sunshine Coast communities.
Heading out on the Trans-Canada Highway to Chilliwack or points east, you’ll see a sign for Bridal Veil Falls, inside a provincial park of the same name. The falls drop about 400 feet (122 metres) creating a veil like effect, hence the fitting name. The falls are about a ten-minute walk from the parking lot on an easy path with a slight uphill incline. If it’s a hot summer, the falls may dry up significantly.
If you’re heading up the Sea to Sky Highway check out Brandywine Falls, located in a provincial park with the same name, about 20 minutes from Whistler. The falls drop about 230 feet (70 metres), and it’s about a 10 or 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the viewing area on a well maintained trail. Watch for the sign to turn off the highway, a nice detour when you’re traveling to Squamish, Whistler, or Pemberton.
Around Vancouver, waterfalls of varying sizes can be found in the Lynn Valley Canyon. You can get a great view from the suspension bridge or walk the trails on the other side to see more waterfalls. The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is free and it’s a lot of fun walking across the wobbly bridge. From the Trans-Canada Highway take Exit 19 and follow Lynn Valley Road until you see the sign for the Lynn Valley Ecology Centre. Turn right and the parking lot is a short drive ahead.
Also in the Vancouver area, Cypress Falls Park in West Vancouver has two waterfalls. A round trip hike takes about an hour and a half on easy trails that are partially on a gravel access road, with a somewhat steep incline. The Lower Falls can be viewed on a wooden bridge, or watch for a trail snaking through the trees and follow it down for a closer view. On the Trans-Canada Highway take Exit 4 onto Woodgreen Drive. Watch for the sign to the parking lot. Alternately, for a shorter hike, keep driving up Woodgreen until you see a playground and park at the side of the road. Walk through the playground to the trails. There’s a big warning sign on a fence stating the property owners are okay with hikers, but walk here at your own risk.
Kanaka Creek Park in Maple Ridge has an easy walking trail through the woods to view waterfalls. Depending on which way you’re traveling, there are several ways to get to the park, and there are a couple of parking lots. If travelling on the Lougheed Highway or Dewdney Trunk Road, turn north at 240th Street, and at 112 Avenue, turn east to reach the park. Once in the park, follow the signs for Cliff Falls.
Two for one in the Cariboo! About 70 kilometres from 100 Mile House are Canim Falls and Mahood Falls. From the parking lot it’s a short, easy hike on a well maintained trail, half a kilometre to Mahood Falls with a 50 foot drop (15 metres). Walk another 5 minutes to Canim Falls that drop 66 feet. From Highway 97, about a kilometre north of 100 Mile House, turn right onto Canim-Hendrix Road heading towards Wells Gray Park and watch for the signs at the east end of Canim Lake.
If the summer’s hot and the snow pack has melted, many waterfalls dry up, so the best time to view waterfalls in British Columbia is in the late spring when the snow pack melts.