Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park – 1,100 acres of heaven

 

Middle Bridge at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

Middle Bridge crosses the river above the upper falls

It has been more than 40 years since I visited Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park on central Vancouver Island.  In those days things were pretty rudimentary – rough trails, outhouses, and flat rocks along the riverbank used as picnic sites. I am happy to report that things have changed for the better, making this spectacular park more accessible to visitors.

Upper falls at Little Qualicum River Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The upper falls – spectacular from above…

Upper falls, Little Qualicum River Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

…and below

Little Qualicum Falls park was designated in 1940. It encompasses almost 1,100 acres (440 hectares), reaching all the way to massive Cameron Lake. Our recent foray to the park on a lovely early spring day reminded me of why this place has stuck in my mind all these years, even though I have not been a frequent visitor. It is, quite simply, magnificent.

Stairway on trail at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

Well-constructed stairways assist hikers on the uphill and downhill portions of the trail

The park offers 3.75 miles (6 kilometres) of hiking trails.  We opted for the loop walk that commences from the beautiful picnic area in the day use portion of the park. Trails for both the upper and lower falls meander off in to the woods from there, so we decided to head for the upper falls first.

Canyon on Little Qualicum River, Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The river wends its way through steep canyons

The trails, while well-maintained, do have some rough spots.  Good footwear and a keen eye are necessary to ensure that you stay upright on your adventure. There are several well-built sets of stairs on this route, and the Middle Bridge, across the upper falls, is a picture.  There are several viewpoints on the way up to the bridge – it helps if you are a bit of a mountain goat to get to some of them, but they are worth the effort.

Bridge at lower falls, Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The bridge at the lower falls

Views from the sturdily-built bridge are pretty spectacular, but the best view of the massive upper falls is from a viewpoint a ways down the trail on the other side. There is so much water crashing through the Little Qualicum River right now that the spray from the falls can be felt at this viewpoint, which is many feet above the river. Things are quieter in the summer of course, but the spectacle and roar of hundreds of thousands of gallons of crystal clear water tumbling over sheer rock face is breathtaking.

Lower falls at Little Qualicum River Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The lower falls

From the upper falls we headed down the trail to the lower falls, where another sturdy bridge offered a crossing as well as great views up-river.  While the lower falls aren’t as impressive as their larger cousin they are certainly worth the effort to view.

Picnic area at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, Vancouver Island

The beautiful picnic site offers tables and a covered eating area

Back across the river we hiked uphill and back to the parking area. All-told our adventure took about 1 ½ hours.  This walk can most certainly be done in much less time but as usual, we stopped a lot to enjoy the scenery, take photos, and marvel at the power of the natural world. For us, that’s what it’s all about.

Dogs are welcome at Little Qualicum Falls park, but must be kept on leash due to the risk of interaction with wildlife. The loop hike is ‘do-able’ for anyone who is reasonably fit.

Further information on Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park can be found at the website:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/little_qualicum_falls/

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat. 49.29339899999999   Long. -124.598672

N 49 17.604  W 124 35.920

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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