Englishman River Falls – a little bit of heaven in the rainforest

The Upper Falls

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.

The swimming hole below the lower falls

            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.           

One of the well-maintained walking trails (And no, the tree won't fall on you!)

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. 

One of the pretty little streams at the park

            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.          

The picnic area

 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.

A visual feast around every corner...

            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.           

Spanish moss - a rainforest staple





One of the rustic campsites




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


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.

One Response to Englishman River Falls – a little bit of heaven in the rainforest

  1. Our Island is so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *