Explore | Chasing Englishman River Falls

Who ever said, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” has obviously NEVER visited a Vancouver Island waterfall in the spring. The surrounding forests are lush with old-growth greenery, the birds are happily chirping, there’s nary a soul in sight and, most importantly, the water levels are so high that the waterfalls are gushing with glacial water.

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One of the best ‘falls that ticks all the aforementioned boxes is Parksville’s Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. Much like my forever-favourite, Little Qualicum Falls, Englishman River Falls has both upper and lower falls. Personally, I prefer to start with the lower falls so that the end my “hike” is treated with the spectacular upper falls.

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Now, I say “hike” because the park contains relatively easy walking trails – trails that only take ~30 minutes to complete (longer if you stop to take 764 photos like me). To start with the lower falls, take the trail located to the left. The trail will lead you downwards towards the lower falls and the deep crystal clear pool.

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I happened to be visiting on a beauty of a day – there was still some fog lingering from earlier in the day, so when the sun started to shine through I was treated to some simply spectacular views.

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As I meandered downwards to the lower falls, I could hear the spring waters rushing by. As the trail opened up to the crossing bridge, I was not let down by the greatness of Englishman River Falls. My moment was made that much sweeter by the fact that I was enjoying it alone. It was so utterly serene I could have stayed all day.

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Of course, I still wanted to see the even greater upper falls. After my moment in the sun, I crossed the bridge and continued along the trail. Englishman River park contains a mixture of both old-growth and new-growth forest. Here, you can spot Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock, and maple (to name a few). One of my favourites is this HUGE old tree that had partly fallen down years ago:

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After my favourite tree, it isn’t too much longer until you reach the bridge that crosses the incredible upper falls. The sound of the rushing waters is so deafening that it’s really all you can hear (and tbh I like it that way).

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It’s at this time that I like to just take in my surroundings. Looking out over the bridge to the upper falls as the glacial water plunges down the narrow rock canyon below, I’m kind of awe-struck. Mother Nature just completely rocks my world.

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Of course, as much as I love the falls in the winter and spring months, Englishman River park is a great place to visit in the summer – especially the swimming hole at the base of the lower falls – if you don’t mind the cold water!

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Have you made the trip to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park? Have you braved the cold glacial swimming hole? Let me know in the comments below!

ps: I would LOVE to hear your favourite falls on Vancouver Island – there’s so many I haven’t yet seen!

Sean :)

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