Even though TLC begged us not to do it, chasing waterfalls is one of my favourite activities.

Fortunately, here on Vancouver Island, we have access to some spectacular and stunningly beautiful waterfalls. And for these ones here you won’t need 3 days worth of gear and a 15 hour back-country hike to reach them.

The best times to visit are spring when the snow melt is flowing and any time after heavy rains.

Englishman River Falls

Where: Englishman River Falls Provincial Park – 2245 Errington Rd, Errington

Just a short drive west of the town of Parksville, these waterfalls are a stone’s throw from the parking lot. There are actually two waterfalls here – the Upper and Lower falls. With, according to the BC Parks trail map, “dangerous cliffs” in between! Actually the river runs through a canyon here and at the upper falls you can stand above the spot where the river drop dramatically into the canyon on a suspension bridge that spans the river. Extremely cool. The lower falls are not as dramatic but still worth checking out – the walk between is not long. And there’s a swimming hole at the lower falls that’s perfect on a hot day.

At the Upper Falls the Englishman River thunders into a narrow gorge

Little Qualicum Falls

Where: Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park – 4001 Alberni Hwy, Qualicum Beach

Just up the highway from Englishman River Falls you’ll find Little Qualicum Falls. This is one of my favourite falls on the Island. The Little Qualicum River cascades down a gorge creating the Upper and Lower Falls. There are some nice trails to wander in the park including a circuit that takes in both falls.

Nymph Falls

Where: Nymph Falls Nature Park – Forbidden Plateau Road, Courtenay

Continuing north along Highway 19 you’ll eventually reach the town of Courtenay. Located about 10 minutes from town in the Nymph Falls Nature Park. A short walk from the parking lot through a forest of western hemlocks, cedar and Douglas firs will get you to this gorgeous spot where the Puntledge River flows over a series of terraces. There’s a great rock platform that juts out into the river here that makes the perfect spot to view and photograph the falls.

Elk Falls

Where: Elk Falls Provincial Park, Campbell River

Another 30 minutes further north is the town of Campbell River – Salmon Capital of the World. Apparently. But for those who prefer waterfalls to fish, it’s also the jumping off point for several awesome falls. Elk Falls is just out of town on the road to Gold River. The trail from the parking lot takes you to a stunning, new, suspension bridge and viewing platform from which to view the Campbell River as it thunders over a 25 metre drop into a canyon. After heavy rain this place is particularly amazing because they will open up the nearby dam to release water. There are plenty of trails to explore and you can walk downriver to Deer Falls and Moose Falls.

Lupin Falls

Where: Strathcona Provincial Park, Highway 28 (to Gold River)

I only recently discovered these falls in beautiful Strathcona Provincial Park which is, incidentally, BC’s oldest provincial park. The park itself is a magnificent wilderness area of snow capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and old growth forest. Lupin Falls is one of several falls in the park. Easily accessed from the roadside parking lot and clearly signposted the trail meanders through the forest in a short loop. The falls themselves tumble through a moss lined, misty canyon and there is a great viewing area complete with park bench. A magical spot. In fact I’m sure I saw some fairies there….

Lower Myra Falls

Where: Strathcona Provincial Park, Highway 28 (to Gold River)

These amazing waterfalls are visible from the other side of the lake as you head down the park road towards them. They are a spectacular series of cascades that fall into Butte Lake. The trail is fairly steep but not long – about 15 minutes each way.

Lady Falls

Where: Strathcona Provincial Park, Highway 28 (to Gold River)

Another easily accessed fall: just a short walk through the old growth forest to a viewing platform above the canyon. The falls are a single spectacular drop into the rocky canyon which creates a lot of spray….fabulous on a hot day! Not so great when you’re trying to photograph them. Take a lens cloth!


These are just some of the many waterfalls that you can visit on Vancouver Island. Do you have a favourite?

I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.

~ Mike May

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