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Elle Ossello | 08.15.2016

Vancouver, British Columbia, is nestled into world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. Encompassing swaths of mountainous, rugged terrain from Seattle to southern Alaska, this ecosystem, supported by heavy rainfall and mild temperatures, naturally boasts some of the region’s most magnificent waterfalls.

Many of the cascades and the surrounding recreation areas are protected by the Great Bear Rainforest, a name environmental groups began using in the mid 1900s for a 6.4 million hectare pocket surrounding Vancouver. These groups began tirelessly campaigning against industrial logging, and it wasn’t until February 1, 2016, that the final agreement was installed dictating that 85% of the forest would be completely protected.

When traveling through the forest or standing beneath a tumbling waterfall, it’s easy to see why so many are passionate about protecting it. Below, we’ve comprised a beginner’s list of Vancouver’s best waterfalls. Visiting in the shoulder seasons are ideal, both for sheer water volume and lesser crowds.


Bridal Veil Falls

  • Hike: 0.3 Miles
  • Height: 300 feet
  • Type: Veiling horsetail

Bridal Veil is one of British Columbia’s most iconic waterfalls and is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. It’s extremely easy to get to—it’s situated alongside the Trans-Canada Highway between Chilliwack and Hope. It’s fed by a small stream tumbling off of Mount Archibald, which towers over tourists and, along with Cheam Peak, provides an excellent backdrop for onlookers.

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

  • Hike: 0.5 Miles
  • Height (of bridge): 164 feet

The waterfall that you can see from the vista offered by the suspension bridge is impressive, but nothing compares to the sensation of actually standing on this impressive structure. Located within Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, this easily-accessible bridge experiences heavy traffic (but not as much as the neighboring Capilano Suspension Bridge). For the best experience, especially for those afraid of heights, plan your visit for early morning.

Slollicum Creek Falls

  • Hike: None (you can see the falls from the car)
  • Height: 1200’ in 5 steps
  • Type: Tiered Plunges

Two of this waterfall’s most impressive drops can be seen from the road—a waterfall of this magnificence and ease of accessibility should certainly be a popular tourist destination. Because the creek disappears into the twisting canyon and hides other scenic drops from view, it looses renown with visitors. Our take: this is a real win for anyone in the area and makes the drive to Slollicum most certainly worth it.

Bear Creek Falls

  • Hike: 100 feet
  • Height: 60 feet
  • Type: Tiered horsetail

Most visitors in the area simply pass these falls by. Like Slollicum, there are no signs, no markers, and no informational placards indicating that the cliffs adjacent to Harrison Lake’s eastern shore are sliced by an impressive waterfall. Expect to have the place to yourself. Be sure to plan your trip during the warmer months because the 8.5-mile drive in is along a fairly rough road.

Brandywine Falls

  • Hike: 0.25 Miles
  • Height: 216 feet
  • Type: Plunge

Thanks to its location just off of Highway 99 and its spotlight in many sightseeing guides, Brandywine Falls is among the most popular tourist destinations in the greater Vancouver area. However, this shouldn’t deter you—you’ll get a magnificent view of the thundering falls from a well-built wooden viewing platform across the canyon.

Alexander Falls

  • Hike: None
  • Height: 173 feet
  • Type: Tiered plunges

Before the 2010 Olympics and the construction of the Callagan Valley Nordic Center, this waterfall was relatively obscure and only accessible by way of a poorly-maintained dirt road. Now visitors can drive right up to the wooden viewing platform.

Nairn Falls

  • Hike: 1.8 miles
  • Height: 117 feet
  • Type: Steep tiered cascades

If your travels bring you to Alexander Falls, be sure to swing by Nairn Falls before you make your way back to Vancouver. From the vantage point a short walk from the trailhead, visitors are able to see the Green River take a sharp turn, tumble out of a box canyon under a natural bridge and over a 117-foot drop.

Shannon Falls

  • Hike: 2.2 miles
  • Height: 820 feet
  • Type: Tiered horsetails

This thundering waterfall is the third tallest in B.C., and certainly one of the most visited. Though there's hardly a chance you'll get to regard this beauty in solitude, it's well worth a trip. The surrounding old-growth forest, the fun and slightly challenging hike to the top of the falls, and the wealth of amenities offered at Shannon Falls Provincial Park all add to the already excellent experience. 

More Difficult

Norvan Falls

  • Hike: 4.3 Miles
  • Type: Tiered horsetail

Situated within Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, this impressive waterfall is relatively easily accessible by way of a well-maintained and relatively flat trail. In the wetter seasons it can be a bit muddy, but the trek is certainly worth the visit. Bring your dog!

Swan Falls

  • Hike: 11 Miles
  • Type: Tiered horsetail

Though the falls can be accessed from the Halvor Lunden Trail and treated as an out-and-back hike, it’s recommended to treat it as a loop. Enjoy the challenging trail, offering excellent views of Buntzen Lake and Eagle Mountain. You’re essentially circumnavigating the latter. Though the mileage is reasonable for a day hike, plan for a long day as the total elevation gain measures in around 3,800 feet, and a significant portion of that is scree.


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