The Sunshine Coast is home to many beautiful waterfalls that can be spotted as you hike through the rainforest. While the best time to view most of them is during the spring thaw or after a large amount of rain, this can vary depending on the year and the specific waterfall. If you aim to do a waterfall hike after a large rain, it’s important to be extra careful on the trails as they can be slick with mud and might have fallen branches in the way. Be sure to check local rules before bringing your pet or going off-leash, and pay attention to warnings of recent animal sightings in the area.
Read on for details—including some bonus info on waterfalls you can spot from the water or air!
Southern Sunshine Coast – Langdale to Earls Cove
Langdale Falls makes for a great day hike. The hike up to the falls is fairly steep and is about 1.5 km each way. Near the end, it is so steep that there is a climbing rope for people to steady themselves with. BE CAREFUL on this trail as everything can be quite slippery. The trail to Langdale falls is part of Sprockids Bike Park, which is about a 5-minute drive from Gibsons Landing.
The trailhead can be found on the east side of the Sprockids parking lot. Starting with the White Trail, follow it until the junction with the Blue Trail which will take you to Langdale Falls. Anyone interested in an extra-long trek can hike from Langdale Ferry terminal to the Langdale Falls trail in Sprockids Bike Park via a series of trails that start at the end of Wharf Rd. Start on Marty’s trail, then Wharf Road Trail, and finally Luge (Langdale Trail), which will connect you with the White trail mentioned above. After your hike, wind down with a relaxing visit to one of the many restaurants or breweries Gibsons has to offer.
LOOK OUT: Sprockids Bike Park and the surrounding trails are also used by mountain bikers, so keep an eye out for them.
Cliff Gilker Park
The trails at Cliff Gilker Park loop through lush rainforest, crisscrossing over Clack Creek to provide many views of the multiple waterfalls. The main waterfall has a shallow pool at the bottom that makes for a good cool down spot after a warm hike. There are a few different trailheads for this park, but the main one is up by the soccer field, the playground, and the public washroom. This upper trailhead is the one that leads to a wheelchair accessible viewing platform as well as a bridge which sits at the top of the main waterfall. There are many benches at the various vantage points around the waterfalls. No matter which trail you start with, you will have many chances to get a great view of the waterfalls and the rush of Clack Creek.
Cliff Gilker Park is located in Roberts Creek just off of Highway 101, next to Sunshine Coast Golf Course. Due to its location, Cliff Gilker not only makes for a great destination but also a fun detour for anyone travelling along Highway 101 in either direction. It’s also close to other Roberts Creek staples like the Roberts Creek Beach & Mandala and the Gumboot Cafe.
Burnett Falls is a popular destination for people visiting Sechelt, thanks to its impressive appearance and convenient location. The falls themselves are surrounded by ferns and take on different characteristics at different times of the year. The trail takes you through a forest of large trees and has gorgeous views of Burnett Creek. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess you’re only a 5-minute drive from downtown Sechelt and all it has to offer. This trail has a gentle incline and is a short, easy trail. The trail head for Burnett Falls can be found at the eastern end of Burnett Road. Turn off of Sechelt Inlet Road onto Burnett Road, between Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and Coast Gravity Park. On the western end of Burnett Road is Willow Point Beach Access and Burnett Beach.
Two trail loops follow Homesite Creek until they eventually intersect with the creek. Each loop has views of the waterfalls. For a shorter, waterfall-focused hike, take the southern-most loop (if you are looking at the two trailheads, it’s the one on your left). This hike includes the opportunity to cool off in the waters at the bottom of the waterfalls, which are shallow but refreshing. The trailheads are on Highway 101 across from the entrance to the Homesite Recreation Area in Halfmoon Bay.
Northern Sunshine Coast – Powell River & The Sunshine Coast Trail
Appleton Creek / Appleton Canyon
The Appleton Canyon leg of the Sunshine Coast Trail follows Appleton Creek through beautiful forests and past a variety of waterfalls. It stretches from its trailhead on Tomkinson Road to the Appleton Recreation Site. Here, on the shore of the creek and surrounded by a stand of large old-growth Douglas Fir, you can find the “swimming hole,” picnic tables, and campsites. For an additional hike, you can also continue on to the Hut at Rieveley’s Pond. The trailhead is approximately a 30-minute drive away from Powell River. This trail makes for a great day hike, and takes about an hour to hike to the recreation site (plus an additional 30-40 minutes if you choose to visit Rieveley Pond).
Some of the noteworthy falls along this trail are:
- Gorge Falls
- Sylph Falls
- Bandit Falls
- Paul Falls + swimming hole
Blackwater Creek Loop
Like many legs of the Sunshine Coast Trail, at the right time of year, there are waterfalls of all sizes along the way. In addition to all the waterfalls, you will also find plenty of well-crafted bridges. The Blackwater Creek Trail Loop is located east of Duck Lake and is part of the Duck Lake Trail Network. It includes Blackwater Creek Trail, Sweetwater, Washout, and a section of Green Road. Some of these trails are mixed use, so watch out for mountain bikes when hiking. The trailhead can be found near the intersection of Burma Road and Alaska Pines Road, where there is parking available, and is about a 30-minute drive from Powell River. Some of the most noteworthy waterfalls are:
- Kelly Falls - This waterfall is 6 metres (20 feet) tall and situated next to both a campsite and a picnic table. This is a great rest stop for anyone doing a long hike, or lunch spot for those doing a day hike.
- David Lam Falls - This waterfall is 18 metres (60 feet) tall and features both a picnic site and a viewing platform.
- Donnelly Falls
- MacGregor Falls
Confederation Lake Trail – Stealth Falls
Stealth falls is on the trail that connects the southern end of Inland Lake to the Northeastern corner of Confederation Lake. It does this by following the eastern edge of each lake with a section of trail between the two.
This waterfall is another tall one. It is visible from a bridge that crosses directly in front of this impressive waterfall. You can access this trail from the Inland Lake Boat Launch which is a 20-minute drive away from Powell River. This hike is of moderate difficulty with over 800 metres of elevation gain—it takes approximately 3 hours to hike from the boat launch to the Hut at Confederation Lake. From Confederation Lake, you can continue on to Tin Hat Mountain Hut and beyond, but you should be prepared to camp for at least one night, if not more.
Suicide Creek Trail
The Suicide Creek Trail loop is Southeast of Duck lake and is about 8.5km long. The trailhead is on Duck Lake Branch 1/Larson Landing Road, about a 20-minute drive away from Powell River. This loop is relatively easy with minimal changes in elevation and well-marked paths, and takes about 2-3 hours to complete (if you’d like to extend your hike, you can add the Mud Lake Hike, which intersects with the road at the same points as Suicide Creek trail). This loop is one of many on the Sunshine Coast trail which includes multiple creek crossings, the most noteworthy of which is Kolezar Krossing. Two noteworthy falls on this loop are:
- Fern Falls
- Mimulus Falls
Bonus: Waterfalls from the Water or Air
You can also check out some beautiful waterfalls on a boat tour or a flightseeing tour for a truly unforgettable experience.
Princess Louisa Inlet – Chatterbox Falls
Whether by air or by sea, there are several tours which will take you out to Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park. Along the way you are bound to see other waterfalls dotting the hillside, but it’s Chatterbox Falls that steals the show with waters falling 40 metres (120 feet) into the water below. On your way to Chatterbox Falls, stay alert, you are likely to see some local marine life enjoying the waters of the inlet.
If you are still interested in hiking once you get to Chatterbox Falls, try the new trail next to Macdonald Island. It’s a 1-hour loop with benches and plenty of spectacular views. There is also a hike outside of the park which will take you up to Trappers Cabin. Here you will be looking at a waterfall very similar to Chatterbox falls from so close that you can touch it. This hike is very steep and difficult and should be considered an advanced hike. Be prepared for it to take you at least 2 hours round trip.
Hotham Sound – Freil Lake Falls a.k.a. Harmony Falls
This waterfall in Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park is best viewed from the waters of Hotham Sound or from the air above it. Water flows out of Freil Lake into the waters below from approximately 444 metres up. While on the ferry between Earls Cove and Saltery Bay, if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a distant glimpse of these falls.