Courtenay’s Nymph Falls

Nymph Falls, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British ColumbiaThere is a little bit of heaven near Courtenay that is open to equestrians, dog walkers, hikers and mountain bikers. Nymph Falls Nature Park is a 151-acre preserve along the north side of the Puntledge River that offers a cornucopia of outdoor activities on a year-round basis.

Trail to Nymph Falls, Courtenay, Vancouver Island,. British Columbia

The trail to the falls is easily traversed

We hiked the forested trail from the parking lot down to the pretty falls with ease. The trail wends its way through second growth forest, past picturesque resting areas and comes out upon massive flat bedrock that offers easy access to lovely views of the falls.  The main feature is the fish ladder, blasted out of the bedrock more than 70 years ago, with several smaller outcrops with rushing water tumbling over them surrounding the ladder. Although the falls may not look as impressive as some of the more imposing water features on the Island they are, nonetheless, captivating.  It would be easy to sit on the bedrock in the sunshine for hours on end just listening to the rush and swirl of the river.

Fish ladders at Nymph Falls, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The fish ladders were blasted out of the bedrock more than 70 years ago

Nymph Falls Nature Park has many fine features, including dedicated trails for experienced mountain bikers, trails that can be shared by those on horseback, foot or mountain bike, and trails devoted to pedestrian traffic only.  There are several loop options, laid out clearly on the map in the parking lot, that allow visitors to decide their route. Trails are very well-marked, making for easy navigation once you are in the forest.

There are a few picnic tables in a cleared area that once served as a labour camp site for conscientious objectors during World War ll.  Several benches are located in various spots along the riverside, allowing for rest and contemplation.  And,  nearby Barber’s Hole is a popular and tranquil spot for a cool dip on a hot summer’s day.

Off leash dog sign at Nymph Falls Nature Park, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British columbia

Off-leash dogs are welcome at the park

The other main attraction at Nymph Falls is the return of the salmon during the Autumn months.  The annual migration up the river generally happens during October and November, and can be a great outdoor excursion that entrances visitors of all ages.

Trailhead route sign at Nymph Falls Nature Park, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Trail routes are well marked

The other thing we loved about the Nymph Falls park is that it is deemed perfectly legal and acceptable to have dogs off-leash, as long as they are under control.  This freedom is so rarely found these days that it was a revelation to discover a sign actually saying that canine companions are allowed to run loose. No guilt trips here, and no wondering if a conservation officer or other official is suddenly going to pounce.  Reasonable precautions must be taken, of course, due to the fact that there is wildlife in the area.  But, a refreshing change from most places these days for those who like to let their dogs loose for a good leg stretch and a little exploring.

So, put Nymph Falls on your must-visit list – it is a great adventure for all ages offering much in the way of natural beauty, the wonders of nature, fresh air and peace and quiet.

            Further information about Nymph Falls Nature Park, including directions to get there, can be found at the website:

Nymph Falls Nature Park is located off Forbidden Plateau Road

GPS co-ordinates are:

Lat.: 49.671108 Long. -125.078498

N 49 40.266 W 125 04.710


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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