Waterfalls of Vancouver and Southwest British Columbia
Posted: May 29, 2014
Written by Michael Chang
Late spring is often the best time of year to see waterfalls as the snow on the mountains is quickly melting making for spectacular amounts of water coming down the mountainous rivers. The following is a brief guide to some of the waterfalls near Vancouver and in the Southwestern British Columbia region. Use the map to find each waterfall or scroll down for a description of each.
A note about safety, while waterfalls are scenic and it’s tempting to get close to snap that photo, everyone should exercise extreme caution. There have been several deaths in the past few years from people being swept over waterfalls to people falling from cliff ledges. Stay on marked trails, within proper viewing areas, and avoid retrieving items that have fallen and are next to the cliff edge. Use common sense and stay safe and you will enjoy the outdoor experience.
Crystal Falls is a short, easy walk from Karley Crescent in Coquitlam, BC, perfect for taking the family or a short jog. The waterfall is well worth visiting in the late spring as water cascades over the rock edges and into the Coquitlam River. Read more
Located in West Vancouver, just above the highway at the Caufield Exit, the hike to Cypress Falls is along one of the North Shore’s four canyons. A short walk brings you to a view of the lower falls, however walking up the hill following the path on the west side of the river for about 20 minutes will bring you to the more spectacular upper falls. Read more
Located north of Mount Fromme in North Vancouver, Kennedy Falls is located downstream from the inaccessible Kennedy Lake watershed area. The round-trip hike to the waterfall is about 11km and starts from the top of Mountain Highway. Read more
Located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Norvan Falls is generally accessible most of the year, with snow on the ground from late in the year to early spring. The hike to the falls is about 14km round-trip with some incline but nothing too difficult. Read more
Saw Blade Falls
Located in Pinecone Burke Provincial Park in Coquitlam, the water fall can be reached from Harper Road by following the Woodland Trail. After crossing under the powerlines, take the Upper Loop trail until you reach the lower falls, then follow a trail up a steep hill next to the river to Saw Blade Falls. Read more
A very steep trail from the north end of Buntzen Lake, the trail to Swan Falls is recommended for more experienced hikers. The waterfall is located in a steep, narrow gully and is sometimes visible from the Buntzen Lake trail. Read more
Twin Falls is located along the Baden Powell Trail, about 20 minutes down stream from the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge. A wooden bridge acts as a great viewing platform for the small waterfall. This is a popular place for tourists to visit due to it’s proximity and short hike from the suspension bridge.
Bridal Veil Falls
Located east of Chilliwack just off Highway #1, Bridal Veil Falls is a popular tourist stop for people on their way to BC’s Interior. From the parking lot, the trail is a short 10 minute uphill hike that brings you to a spectacular waterfall that’s well worth a visit. Read more
Located in Mission, BC, the walk to the waterfall in Cascade Falls Regional Park is easy and takes you over a scenic suspension bridge. Read more
Gold Creek Falls
A popular hike in the summer in Golden Ears Provincial Park, follow the Lower Falls Trail to Gold Creek Falls. Plenty of water should be rushing over this waterfall in the late-spring as water empties into Alouette Lake. Read more
Kanaka Creek Cliff Falls
Cliff Falls is located near the Cliff Park Playing Fields in Maple Ridge, BC. A short walk along a trail from the parking lot brings you to a picnic area where a bridge crosses over the waterfall below. Read more
Steelhead Falls (Hayward Lake)
Located on the east side of Hayward Lake in Mission near the Blind Slough Dam, springtime brings plenty of water down this waterfall as it can be heard clearly from the main trail. For those just wanting to see the waterfall, there is a parking area near the Dam where you can then walk a short distance to the junction, followed by a short descent to the falls. Read more
Rolley Lake Falls
A series of small waterfalls, located along a trail that goes from the Rolley Lake Campground. Follow the trail and go left at the junction to the the falls by the wooden bridge, then continue walking down the hill to the gravel road where you can see some additional falls. You can hike back up to the campsite on the other of the logging road bridge. Read more
A beautiful spot that is best accessed via canoe through the Widgeon Marsh area from Grant Narrows in Pitt Meadows. After paddling through the Widgeon Creek area, leave your canoe at the campsite and a short, easy hike brings you to several waterfalls where you can lounge on the large rocks enjoy. Read more
Squamish / Howe Sound
Crystal Falls (Lions Bay)
Located on Magnesia Creek in Lions Bay, this waterfall is not visited often by non-locals. Despite being near a residential area, there is no parking near the falls and visitors must park near the General Store and hike about 40-minutes along the Centennial Trail to the falls. It’s worth the visit though as it can be enjoyed from a bench looking down into the canyon. Read more
High Falls Creek
A steep, off-the-beaten-path hike, located in the Squamish Valley quite some distance from the Sea To Sky Highway. This is a unique hike as you literally scramble your way up the steep, rocky slope with the canyon waterfall in full view. However, be careful not to even attempt to see the bottom of the falls as there was a well publicized incident of someone killed when they slipped over the edge several years ago. Read more
Located on the mountains to the west of Squamish and often visible from the town, Monmouth Falls is accessible via a trail that goes to Echo Lake. This trail gets very little usage as it can only be accessed by boat from the other side of the Squamish River.
A major stop for tourists traveling from Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea To Sky Highway, the spectacular falls is just a short, easy walk from the parking lot. Alternatively, you can also hike to Upper Shannon Falls for a view of Howe Sound before carrying on along the recently created trail to the Sea To Sky Gondola. Read more
Before the Olympics when a large gravel parking lot area was opened up, Alexander Falls went largely unnoticed. A scenic 10 – 15 minute drive along the Callaghan Valley Road, west of the Sea To Sky Highway, brings you to this parking lot and spectacular waterfall. Read more
A popular stop at one of the regions most spectacular waterfalls, the 10 minutes walk brings you to a platform looking over a waterfall that drops 70 meters below before draining into Daisy Lake. For anyone traveling through the area to Whistler, this is a quick must see. Read more
Located along the trail to Rainbow Lake, the falls are a popular “shorter” hike along 21 Mile Creek. The trail passes through lush forest, following the creek the entire distance to the falls, before continuing to Rainbow Lake.
Draining from Wedgemount Lake and the steep, rocky slope near the top of the trail, Wedgemount Falls can be heard from the trail but is difficult to see. There is no “viewpoint” for this waterfall and only the occasional glimpse between the trees. It is not recommended to venture off the trail. Read more
Joffre Lakes Falls
The waterfall near Joffre Lakes is located on the creek that runs between Middle and Upper Joffre Lakes. There is a small trail to the right of the main trail that leads to the waterfall. There is also a waterfall at the Upper Lake where the water falls from the glacier above. Read more
A popular campsite just south of Pemberton, BC, the short trail along the creek arrives at Nairn Falls. The viewpoints are spectacular as you can see the falls from above and how the water has carved its path through the rocks over millions of years. Read more
Place Creek Falls
One of Pemberton’s most spectacular waterfalls but also a challenge to access, the Place Creek trail is located well north of Pemberton on the road towards the town of D’Arcy. This is a steep, remote trail and only recommended for experienced hikers.
Located in Indian Arm Provincial Park towards the northeast shore, Granite Falls is the largest waterfall in the region. Primarily accessible by boat (although the rugged Indian Arm Trail is a multi-day hiking trail that passes through the area), the waterfall is next to a scenic camping site.
Silver Falls is located about 2/3’s of the way up Indian Arm on the west shoreline and is best accessed by kayak from the Deep Cover area. The narrow stream of water cascading over the rocks is a great place for a day trip by kayak.
Other Waterfall Resources
If you would prefer a physical book with detailed information on waterafalls, their locations, and photos, the book Waterfalls Of British Columbia is the best option. This book covers the entire province, going being on the Southwest BC region of this post, however it discusses several spectacular waterfalls such as Kinuseo Falls and Helmcken Falls.
The World Waterfall Database is a great online resource of user-submitted waterfalls and includes many waterfalls from the southwest British Columbia region. There appears to be several waterfalls in their database not included on their list but many of these waterfalls are difficult to access and in very remote areas.
Have we missed any waterfalls in the region that you have been to? Leave a comment below to let us know.