There isn’t anything better after being cooped up indoors all winter than getting out for a walk or hike on a sunny spring morning. We did just that recently, when I re-visited Englishman River Falls Provincial Park for the first time in 35-plus years, and my husband had his first trip to this lovely spot.
Established in 1940, the 240-acre park was named as the result of an old legend, wherein First Nations people found the skeleton of a white man along the river near the waterfall, thereby giving the falls its name. The area was declared parkland to protect the old growth Douglas Fir forest and the area around the Englishman River and the falls. We found ourselves being very thankful indeed for the foresight of the provincial parks department as we wandered along the three-kilometre (two mile) network of trails.
The mesmerizing upper falls are easily viewed from a bridge that crosses over the river; from there a variety of trails takes explorers in every direction, where they can enjoy the natural beauty that predominates. Hundreds of types of plant life, including many different mosses and ferns, are a feast for the eye. Meandering streams, quiet pools, unique arbutus trees – the list of visual delights is endless. Below the lower falls (which can also be viewed from a bridge) there is a quiet pool that serves as an ideal swimming hole in the warmer months. Spawning salmon are a great attraction in the same area come the autumn. The park is a mecca for photography enthusiasts – in fact, the morning that we were there members of the Cowichan Valley Camera Club from the southern end of the Island were on site, snapping photos right, left and centre as part of a field trip. You can see some of the results of their trip at:
The well-maintained trails provide fairly easy hiking, so anyone with a moderate level of fitness can access them. They can be a bit boggy in parts after wet weather, but there was nothing excessively wet the day we visited and meandered along.
The park also has on offer a large covered picnic area, a parking lot that accommodates in excess of 100 vehicles, and 103 rustic campsites, open from May 1 – September 30. Dogs are welcome, but must be kept on leash in order to protect fragile habitat.
Englishman River Provincial Park is located 13 kilometres southwest of Parksville, not far from the funky community of Errington. It’s a little off the beaten path, as are so many worthwhile destinations, but road access is excellent and the diversion off Highway 4 is worth the extra time to explore this lovely gem. There is disabled access to the upper falls viewing area and picnic area.
To get to the park, take Highway 4 towards Port Alberni. Take Errington Road off Highway 4. Directional signs are posted on main highways. Nearby communities include: Parksville, Qualicum, Coombs and Errington.
Further information may be obtained by going to:
GPS co-ordinates are: Lat. 49.24545285206408 Long. -124.35034275054931
N 49 14.727 W 124 21.021