Spahats Creek Falls, British Columbia

Spahats Creek Falls in August 2010

Spahats Creek Falls is an impressive waterfall in Wells Gray Provincial Park.  Though not as tall as Helmcken Falls or as wide as Dawson Falls, it keeps up with its relatives. Spahat Creek has eroded a significant portion of the rock above the crest of the falls. It then plunges over 200 feet to the bottom of the gorge below. It’s a geologically impressive place. Even more impressive are the trees growing on the side of the canyon.

Photographing the falls can be rather difficult. I’m a traveler who doesn’t always have the ability to show up at a waterfall only in the morning or in the evening (at least not without sacrificing time). Those are the best times of the day to photograph Spahats Falls, so you’ll likely have to deal with the sun. If you can get the right angle, you’ll be able to limit the effects of the sun. You’ll also have to walk along the paths at the edges of the cliffs to get various shots. You might be able to get the whole falls, but the sunlight was too intense at that specific angle.

Directions:

  1. From Clearwater, head north on Clearwater Valley Road for 10 km (6 miles).
  2. On the left, there will be the parking area for Spahats Creek Falls.  It’s pretty clearly marked.  Park here and head to the falls, a short distance away.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 240′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Spahats Creek Falls?

Nairn Falls, British Columbia

Nairn Falls in August 2010

The first thing I noticed as I started hiking to Nairn Falls was how amazingly beautiful the river next to the trail is. The Green River flows very quickly, and not surprisingly has this extremely cool turquoise color to it. As you continue along, you’ll climb up and down a relatively easy trail. There is some elevation change, but it’s not bad.

Once you get to the falls, begin to explore. I will admit it is one of the more unique waterfalls I’ve seen. The picture on the right is the initial drop, which is beautiful, though somewhat difficult to photograph due to fencing. Then the river takes a literal 90 degree turn, and after going a short distance, takes another 90 degree turn, as if returning to its original path. The river drops again at this point, though the safety fencing REALLY blocks any good view of the second drop. It is really a great waterfall to stop and visit. As a note, there are a number of waterfalls off of BC-99 (or within a few miles of BC-99), and they are all relatively easy to visit.

Directions:

  1. It is about 33 km north of Whistler or 2 miles south of Pembleton on BC-99.  If heading north, the parking will be on the right.  Signs indicate pretty clearly where the park is.
  2. After parking, start down the trail toward the falls.  It is about 1 mile one-way.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 117′ (though you can’t see much of the drop)
Length of Hike: 2.0 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Nairn Falls?

Rainbow Falls, British Columbia

An upper portion of Rainbow Falls (August 2010)

Rainbow Falls is a beautiful set of waterfalls on the outsets of Whistler. As usual, the most difficult part seems to be finding the trail that leads to the falls. The directions I was following listed a different trail name than what I saw, and that definitely confused me. I actually took a picture of the sign just so that I could remember what the trail was named!

Each of the drops, while not extremely tall, have distinct personalities in a beautiful forest setting. I guess the only negative is that it is somewhat difficult to get photographs of some portions of the falls, but even the trees in the area add to the scenery. I really did enjoy this hike.

Directions:

  1. Heading south from Whistler, turn right onto Alta Lake Road.
  2. Head down Alta Lake Road for 6.8 km to the trailhead. The trailhead is the “Rainbow Trail”, and the sign indicates the total hike would be about 16 km, which is nowhere near how long you’ll hike.
  3. From the parking area, take the path on the left (the west side of the river). Take the trail for a little less than a mile.
  4. I have to admit I can’t remember if this is the hike where it can suddenly become deceiving. There may be a sign indicating the direction to the falls, but I also have the feeling that there wasn’t. I think the trail splits off at that point, and you should head to the right.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: ~50′ (?)
Length of Hike: 0.9 miles round-trip

Lower portion of Rainbow Falls (August 2010)

Where in the World is Rainbow Falls?

Cypress Falls Park Waterfall, British Columbia

Cypress Falls in August 2010

I spent some amount of time wandering around trying to find Cypress Falls. Cypress Falls Park is found in West Vancouver. It’s not too difficult to find, though at first, I was doubtful that I was allowed to park next to the park. The park is found in a very nice residential area, and I hope that nobody thought I was doing anything “bad”.

As you start walking along the trails, it’s probably best to not have any expectations of time limits.  In reality, it should only take about 15-20 minutes to hike to the falls…if you don’t end up on a completely different part of the trail. I definitely ended up walking on a portion of the trail that wasn’t leading anywhere specific. I realized that I wasn’t hearing ANY flowing water, which is not a good sign.  I finally decided to turn around and head back toward the parking area.

I decided to take a turn and was lucky enough to somehow find water, and I then followed the sounds to a portion of Cypress Falls. At that point, it was getting rather dark inside of the forest, hence the poor pictures. While the falls are not that big, it is an enjoyable hike. Even then, I still ended up exiting the park at a completely different point than where my car was parked, and had to hike down the street a ways to get back to the car. Be aware…there are no clear trail indicators.

Directions:
I would probably get better directions than this, but here seems to be the general idea.

  1. From BC-99 in West Vancouver, take exit 4.
  2. Take Woodgreen Drive to Woodgreen Place, which I found using a GPS.
  3. Along Woodgreen Place is a park with a play set and an area that can be used for parking.  Park there and begin the wandering.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy hike), 5/10 (actually finding the falls)
Height of Falls: 20′
Length of Hike: 1.9 miles round-trip (to actual Cypress Falls), other falls along the trail

Where in the World is Cypress Falls Park Waterfall?

“Hidden” Falls, British Columbia

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Hidden Falls in August 2010

While driving to McDonald Falls in British Columbia (which is nearby the more advertised Cascade Falls), I ended up finding a small waterfall that was hidden off of the side of the road.  It’s probably not very obvious unless you’re intentionally looking…and I’m always looking for those smaller waterfalls.

I can’t exactly remember whether the waterfall was off of Sylvester Road or off of Lost Creek Forest Service Road, which branches off of Sylvester Road.  I think it was off the latter, as I remember being able to pull off to the side of the road rather easily.  If you’re headed toward Lost Creek FSR, the waterfall is on  your right.

Directions:

  1. If you’re coming from Transcanadian Highway 1, you’ll want to exit toward Mission onto BC-7.
  2. Drive east of Mission on BC-7 for about 6.5 km to Sylvester Rd.
  3. Turn left on Sylvester Rd. Head 13 km down Sylvester Rd.
  4. After a distance, you’ll see a sign for Cascade Falls.  Keep heading down that road a short distance, where Lost Creek Forest Service Road starts.  It’s a dirt road, so it’s pretty difficult to miss.  McDonald Falls is about 1.3 miles down that road past the bridge over Munro Creek, so if you reach that bridge, you’ve gone too far.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, if you can find it)
Height: 25′
Length of Hike: not applicable (roadside)

Where in the World is “Hidden” Falls?

Helmcken Falls, British Columbia

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Helmcken Falls in August 2010

My gosh, is Helmcken Falls cool. At 463′ tall, it’s nowhere near the tallest waterfall. And yet, I find that Helmcken Falls is an extremely impressive waterfall. There is something truly amazing about it.

First, the flow of this falls is very strong, and that was visiting in August. I can only imagine the flow in May or early June. Second, the geology here is truly cool. The rock walls behind the falls only enhance the beauty. As I was standing there, I realized that there were extremely sharp drops. Even at the viewpoint I was standing at, you have to be very careful. It’s hard to explain Helmcken Falls in a way that appropriately creates the amazing picture that you see in front of you, so just go and check it out!

To check it out, there are different viewpoints. One of them is the viewpoint I was standing at, which is pretty far from the crest of the falls, but leads to impressive views nonetheless. You can walk along the trail closer to the crest, and some people seem to suggest it’s even cooler.

Directions:

  1. From Clearwater, head north on Clearwater Valley Road for about 40 km/25 miles to the parking area for Dawson Falls. Along the way, you will have passed parking areas for Spahats Creek Falls and Moul Falls.  Once you reach the bridge over the Mushbowl, keep going to the parking area for Helmcken Falls.  From there it’s a short walk to the viewing area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 463′
Length of Hike: N/A (very short)

Where in the World is Helmcken Falls?

Dawson Falls, British Columbia

In the Wells Gray Provincial Park area, there are a number of tall waterfalls. None of them are considerably wide. Dawson Falls is the opposite. While over 60′ tall, it’s much wider than the other falls, such as Helmcken or Spahats Creek Falls.

Dawson Falls is a very easy falls to visit, though I remember it being less than simple to find the best viewpoint for the falls. I think the viewpoint that is closest to the falls is not the viewpoint, if I remember correctly. I found that the viewpoint nearest the parking lot actually allowed for better pictures of the whole falls.

Directions:

  1. From Clearwater, head north on Clearwater Valley Road for about 40 km/25 miles to the parking area for Dawson Falls. Along the way, you will have passed parking areas for Spahat’s Creek Falls and Moul Falls. If you reach the bridge over the Mushbowl, you’ve gone to far, though you’ll be able to re-encounter Dawson Falls on the return drive.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 66′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

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Dawson Falls in August 2010

Where in the World is Dawson Falls?

Cascade Falls, British Columbia

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Cascade Falls in August 2010

Cascade Falls is a rather easily accessible waterfall not very far from British Columbia (at least relatively). There are many waterfalls within 100 miles of Vancouver if you head north on BC-99, but there are also waterfalls found if you head east on Transcanadian Highway 1.

The hike to Cascade Falls is very easy, as there is a trail leading to the falls. Once you get there, you might be slightly disappointed. There is a fence blocking further viewing of the falls. This is because the area below the falls seems rather dangerous, especially when people don’t think. I don’t actually mind the fence. I just wish there was a “better” view of the falls. From the viewpoint where the trail ends, there are trees that are blocking getting a good picture. Your best bet would be to walk back along the fencing blocking you and try to find a point where you can get a better view. I had to slip the camera lens through the opening in the fence to get a better view.

Update: Though I haven’t visited, as of 2015, there is now a suspension bridge over the creek that seems to lead to much better views. Check it out!

Directions:

  1. If you’re coming from Transcanadian Highway 1, you’ll want to exit toward Mission onto BC-7.
  2. Drive east of Mission on BC-7 for about 6.5 km to Sylvester Rd.
  3. Turn left on Sylvester Rd. Head 13 km down Sylvester Rd.
  4. You’ll find the road leading to Cascade Falls on your right. Pay attention. There will be a sign, but I can’t remember if it was that obvious.
  5. Head to the end of the road to the parking lot, and then start the short hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Cascade Falls?

Brandywine Falls, British Columbia

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Brandywine Falls in August 2010

Brandywine Falls is one of many great waterfalls that can be found in British Columbia. It is one of the more popular ones, partly because it is relatively tall, and partly because it is so easy to go and see. The hike to the falls could hardly even be considered a hike, more like a short stroll to the viewing area!

Brandywine Falls is found south of Whistler and north of Squamish. It’s not really even that far from Vancouver, depending on where you area. The falls are right off of BC-99 in Brandywine Provincial Park. After parking and paying the $1 (for 1 hour) fee, you’ll be rewarded with the very easy and enjoyable walk to the falls.

Now, there’s a major viewing area that was built for the falls, but this was not my favorite viewpoint. First off, in order to get a good view of the falls, you essentially have to hang over the side of the viewpoint, and you can see 200 or so feet below you. Not great for someone that doesn’t care for heights! Even then, I had to kink my neck to get a good picture. I would check that viewpoint out, but I’d also suggest heading to a viewpoint that is further along the very short trail. This other viewpoint is not designated, but I think it leads to just as good, if not better view of the falls more head-on. There is a tree blocking the very lowest portion, but I didn’t mind. Walking further along also leads to great views of the valley below.

Directions:

  1. Brandywine Falls is found between Squamish and Whistler along BC-99. If heading north, the entrance to the park will be on your right. As a “warning”, the entrance to the falls can be confusing, especially if heading south. It’s not all that apparent what road your supposed to follow to enter the park or to leave it (at least in certain directions).
  2. After parking and paying, hike to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 230′
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Brandywine Falls?

Flood Falls, British Columbia

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Flood Falls in August 2010

I spent a while trying to find Flood Falls. It is interesting trying to interpret someone else’s directions, especially when you’re not coming from the same direction. I wandered around, and then decided to give up on trying to find the falls. I drove back into Hope and decided to stop at the visitor’s center. (British Columbia does a SPECTACULAR job at promoting tourism. The people at the visitor’s center were amazingly helpful.) I noticed on one of the maps that there was the same Flood Falls I had been searching for.

I decided to follow the directions on the brochure, and low and behold, it worked! I was able to find the trailhead to the falls. From there, it was a very enjoyable hike, even though the temperatures were higher than I expected. It’s mid-August, so the water levels were pretty low. I imagine that the water levels are higher earlier in the season. There still is water, though!!! The falls were secluded, though very easy to access, and it was so enjoyable just to sit there and enjoy the beauty surrounding me. On the way back to the car, though, I did somehow manage to end up on another trail and landed a few hundred feet from the car.

Directions:

  1. I started out in Hope heading west on Flood Hope Road.
  2. After a ways, you will pass over Silver Creek (also goes by another name) and then you’ll go over an overpass above Transcanadian Highway 1. Keep going!
  3. After about 2 miles, you’ll come to a Husky gas station. There is an entrance to the highway just nearby this gas station.
  4. Directly after the gas station, turn left. Head across the 2nd overpass you’ll encounter. Go to the very end of that road.
  5. When you look around, you’ll notice two “roads” that don’t really look like roads. Take the left road, which is more of a road than it appears! It is unnamed.
  6. After a hundred feet or so, you should see the sign for the trailhead leading to the falls on your right.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Height: 1200′ (only 250′ is really visible)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Flood Falls?