Have You Met Elk Falls Yet?

Confession: I have a deep and abiding fascination with waterfalls.

Elk Falls

Elk Falls Provincial Park

On any road or hiking trip I take, if there’s any chance of working a waterfall into the mix, it’s got to be done. I love the sound of the rushing water, and its powerful plunge over a cliff edge or gentle tumble down a hillside. Most of all, I love the way the continuous flow of water has shaped the surrounding landscape bit by bit over more years than I can possibly imagine.

This year I was lucky enough to welcome the New Year in style – snowshoeing at Mt. Washington, and a cozy fireside evening with friends in a rented cabin in Strathcona Park. One of the best parts of the trip, however, was the quick stop we made at Elk Falls Provincial Park on the way back from Strathcona.

Elk Falls Provincial Park

Just two kilometres northwest of the city of Campbell River, this small (just over 1,000 hectares) provincial park is both beautiful and accessible. Established in 1940, this provincial park is also home to the smaller Moose and Deer Falls. I sense a theme here!  There are several hiking trails in the park, and it’s just a short downhill hike to the spectacular Elk Falls. Camping is possible at the nearby Quinsam Campground, which is on the opposite side of the road about three kilometres away from the waterfall site.

Above Elk Falls

River Channel Above Elk Falls

Elk Falls is spectacular all year round, but it’s particularly impressive in the winter when the water volume is at its highest. The Campbell River rushes along a rock-strewn bed before cascading over a sudden precipice in a 25-metre free fall to the pool below. The trail from the parking lot leads to a flat rocky area above the falls. Be really careful when exploring this area. The rocks are covered with slick moss and are extremely slippery, as I discovered when I found myself flat on my back almost immediately. Ouch!
The view is worth paying the extra attention to your footing, however, and the river channel is surrounded by tall cedars and mountains of lush ferns. Following the trail a little further, you’ll come to a viewing platform just above the top of the falls. The rush of water overpowers the rest of the forest noises, and the endless flow of water is mesmerizing.

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This gorgeous little park is open all year, and it is a must-see stop on any mid-Island adventure. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Do you have any favourite waterfall destinations? Please share them in the comments below!

More Heart of the West Coast:

Encountering the Ancient Trees of Avatar Grove

Coastal Life at Patricia Bay

Spring Feast for the Eyes: Chocolate Lilies

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