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Hidden Waterfalls in the Kootenays

These awe-inspiring views of water frothing and churning in mossy canyons is a natural state wonder!  In the art (or adventure) of chasing waterfalls, the Kootenays is home to so many of them — how do you choose? which one to explore? Here is a list of our ‘MOST’ hidden falls (in alphabetical order) — happy waterfall chasing!

Bear (between GoldenRevelstoke) — Expect a wet spray while you descent down the wooden steps to the 100-metre falls. 

(Location: At the east end of the parking area, there is a large sign about services in Glacier National Park.  And just right of the sign is a completely unmarked, but well-maintained trail that descends into the forest. This easy hiking trail is a great opportunity to stretch your legs when travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway. The trail is only accessible if you are heading east on Hwy #1 from the summit of the Rogers Pass. From the summit, drive east for 13.3 km to a small turnout that has a viewpoint with an arrow indicating 200-metres.)

Bear Falls in Glacier National Park; photo by Andrew Chad

Beaver Creek (Fruitvale/Trail) — In the late summer this is a popular swimming hole, while in the spring the dramatic plunge through the steep canyon is mesmerizing.

(Location: It is recommended to take the Falls Road East off the Highway 3B in Beaver Falls and follow it to the end.  The path leads down to the bridge/waterfall).

Begbie Falls (south of Revelstoke) — Begbie Falls is a small falls at the mouth of Begbie Creek on the Upper Arrow Lake.

(Location: This site is located at the end of the Begbie Falls Forest Service Road (FSR). Access the site by vehicle on Begbie Falls FSR or trail access from the Begbie Bluffs Parking area on Highway 23 via the Bluff Trail. The trail is a shared multi-use trail, mountain bikers please dismount and yield to all other users.)

Bugaboos/Lower Creek (Brisco/Radium Hot Springs) — The easy trail begins next to the Forestry Recreation road and is a nice stroll past old fir trees.  At 1.1-km, follow the obvious trail down to the creek’s edge, where you get a good view of the 100-metre falls from downstream.

(Location: On Hwy 95 near Spillimacheen/Brisco, turn right on the Westside Road and cross the Columbia River valley. After 2.3 km, turn on the Westside Road, do not take the Giant Mine Road.  Follow the Westside Road for another 3.9 km, which will take you across Bugaboo Creek and up a steep hill with a switchback.  Near the top of the hill, look for the old Forestry recreation trail sign for Lower Bugaboo Falls.  If you reach the 8-kilometre sign, you’ve good about 300 metres too far.)

Upper Bugaboo Creek Falls; photo by Shannon Harrison

** The Upper Bugaboo Creek Falls are right next to the Bugaboo Forest Service Road; however, the drive to these from Hwy 95 is approximately 55+ kms (one-way). 

Bull River/Aberfeldie Dam (Wardner/Cranbrook) — This canyon waterfall is next to the roadside, near the Aberfeldie Dam. Stay clear of the dam (park away and access on foot to capture your photos of the gushing water).

(Location: While travelling east on Highway #3 from Cranbrook, near Wardner turn left onto the Wardener/Fort Steele Road and then turn right onto the Bull River Forest Service road and travel approximately 20-kms to see the falls).

Bull River/Aberfeldie Dam; photo by Shannon Harrison

Cherry Creek (Kimberley) — This falls are located in the Cherry Creek Regional Park in Meadowbrook, just a short drive from Kimberley, BC (cover photo).  There is a large parking area and a short trail to the falls pass a few picnic benches – this it descent down a wooden staircase to the bottom of the falls.  Here you can watch spawning fish try to jump up the falls or enjoy a quick cool plunge into a small swimming pool.

(Location: Take Highway 9A north from Kimberley to Thomason Road (turn left). Go up to Clarricoates Road and turn right – take Clarricoates which turns into Ta Ta Lost Dog Forest Service Road until you cross a small bridge and the parking lot for the falls is on your right.)

Evan’s Beach/Creek (Slocan/Valhalla Provincial Park) — Access to these falls, is either by foot or by boat.  From Slocan, hike to Evans Creek along the Slocan Lake to South Evan’s Beach. The approximate round trip is 17-km, with the raging falls at the halfway point.  This trek is very scenic along Slocan Lake, but it is not recommended if it’s raining — since some sections of the trail cross fields of boulders and there is enough up-and-down stepping that the path becomes treacherous when slippery. 

(Location: The trailhead is located on Main Street in Slocan, BC). 

Evan’s Beach/Creek Falls; photo by Emilie Cayer-Huard

** Another popular waterfall trek is to the Nemo Creek Falls, a 4-hour short hike along Slocan Lake. It begins 50 m (160 ft) north of Nemo Creek. Besides offering stunning views of the lake, the trail passes near an old trapper’s cabin and some interesting rock formations. 

Glades (Castlegar) — You will be pleasantly surprised by this hidden waterfall near the Glade Ferry crossing.

(Location: After disembarking the Glade ferry, drive up to turn right onto Glade Road and reset the odometer if needed. Drive 1.4-km. Continue driving and cross Glade Creek. Fork left at 1.7-km – at the 1.7 km mark there is a parking area, we recommend that you park here. Or you can continue up the hill the additional 0.4-km to the 2.1-km mark, to park along-side the road. Please be aware of private property and respect those who live nearby. You’ll hear Glade Creek Falls from this point. Look for the path leading away from the road towards the waterfall noise. It’s just a short walk up to the waterfall. (Be cautious if you venture out onto the wet slippery rocks below the falls for a closer look or a photo.)

Glade Creek Falls; photo by Gina Begin

Hamilton (Field/Yoho National Park) — Located next to the Emerald Lake Lodge day-parking area, this trek is often missed.  It’s an uphill trek (1.1 km, one-way), with some elevation changes through lush greenery.  It appears as though, over time, the water has deeply carved the rock wall.  Still there is not clear explanation of the person-made rock wall construction at the base of the fall — do you know? 

(Location: Follow the route to Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park and park at the day-use area, the trail is well-marked).

Ione (Nakusp) — This are tucked away from the sight of Highway #23, just north of Nakusp BC (19-km).  But as you enter the rest stop, you will be greeted by this lovely falls.  Expect to get wet from the spray at the base of the waterfall (18-metre) when the water flow is high.

(Location: Rest stop on Highway #23 near Nakusp, BC.)

Ione Waterfalls; photo by Heidi Korven

Josephine (Elkford) — These breath-taking falls cascade 25 metres down a steep canyon carved by the Fording River. This striking waterfall was discovered in 1905 by Professor Henry F. Osborn and his family and named in honour of Miss Josephine Osborn, who caught the largest trout thus far recorded from that spot.

(From Sparwood, take Highway 43 north to Elkford. At the 4-way stop turn right and drive the paved Greenhills Mine Road for 5.1 km until you see a Forest, Falls and Lakes trails — this is your trailhead. Proceed to the Falls which are about 2.3 km one-way.)

Jumping Waters (Fernie) — This unique waterfall is found on the legendary Heiko’s Trail (or Mountain & Lakes Trail). Located just below Bisaro Cave deep in Fernie’s backcountry, this waterfall is a short hike from the trailhead entrance of Hartley Lake Road.

(Location: Drive 5.3 kilometres east on Hwy 3 from the north-east end of Fernie and turn left onto Dicken Road. After 600 metres turn right up Hartley Lake Road, not signed, yard on each side of the road, and drive another 15 kilometres on this windy dirt road that climbs past Hartley Lake. Continue on this road and just after your second left you will see a trail marker post. Turn left, it is recommended that you park at the first lot. If you have knowledge of driving rough backcountry roads and a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance, you may continue on to the last parking lot. There is a large trail sign showing the elevation of the trail at the second lot, where Mountain Lakes Trail actually starts.) 

Jumping Waters Falls; photo by Emilie Cayer-Huard

Kay (Revelstoke) — A very short trek (150-m) leads to these road side waterfalls along the Trans-Canada Highway, heading west.

(Location: Drive west on Hwy 1, just past the Enchanted Forest and look for a small pullout on the south side of the highway. Better to hit the pullout going east. Park well clear of the highway. It’s a five-minute walk to the falls.)

Kay Falls west of Revelstoke, BC; photo by Field & Forest

Laughing/Twin (Field/Yoho National Park) — Just past Takakkaw Falls (popular and one of Canada’s highest waterfalls) is the Yoho Valley Road and access to two waterfalls, Laughing and Twin Falls.  It’s an easy trek to Laughing Falls and if you continue on the same trail it will bring you to Twin Falls and the historic Twin Falls Chalet (also known as the Twin Falls Tea House). The Twin Falls Tea House was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992.

(Location: The trail is one way, 4.4 km, to Laughing Falls campground from the parking lot in the Yoho Valley, via the Takakkaw Falls parking lot.)

Little McPhee Creek (Castlegar) — This was the  original Doukhobor workers’ trail from Brilliant Dam. The trail drops into the creek bed, which is followed upstream for a short distance. A short extension of the trail ends at the plunge pool of the scenic waterfall. 

(Location: There are two entrances to the waterfalls, these directions are from Brilliant Substation Parking Lot. The one-way trek to the falls are 2.3-km. Leave Castlegar heading towards Nelson on Hwy 3A.Before the Brilliant bridge, turn right on Ootischenia Road and head up the hill. Follow signs to the golf course, turn left on Corrigan Road turning into Columbia Road. Turn left on Aaron Road. Turn right on gravel road with gate before the golf course, note gate closure times, and follow for 4km, keep left at 2-km fork in road. Turn left into parking lot before the Substation. Follow Skattebo Reach trail for 2.25-km passing the Brilliant Overlook and Doukhobor Waterline trailheads. Turn right at Little McPhee Creek Waterfall trail junction.)

Little McPhee Falls near Castlegar, BC; photo by Field & Forest

Matheson (Fernie) — These falls are just outside of Fernie near the old mining town of Coal Creek. With soft moss-coated rocks surrounding the spectacular cascading waters, it’s virtually impossible to get a bad photo here. 

(Location: Drive down Coal Creek Road for approximately 9-km. Once you go past the yellow mileage 41 Marker on your right-hand side, you will cross a small bridge. Immediately, after the bridge, the path starts on your right-hand side. There is a small pull out to the left of the bridge where you can park your car. Follow the path, which runs parallel to the left of the creek. The path will soon end at the water; from there on you will have to walk up the creek. You can find various trail sections on the right of the creek, so I would recommend crossing from the left of the creek to the right to avoid walking in the water the entire time. After about 15-20 minutes of walking, you will end up at the base of Matheson Falls.)

Meachen (Kimberley) – These falls are just a short trek from the Meachen Creek Forest Service road, up the St. Mary Valley.  You will hear the falls (especially during the spring) before you actually see them.

(Location: From Kimberley take the St. Mary River road to the end of the lake and cross the bridge. Once you reach a fork in the road, turn right onto the Meachen Creek Forest River Road and follow it to the 8-km road sign marker.)

Perry Creek (Wycliffe/Cranbrook) —  The trail to these falls is an easy 1.4-km hike, with a descent of 120-m. The trail takes you past an abandoned gold mine to a set of pools below the waterfall itself. 

(Location: Head north towards Kimberley on Hwy 95A and turn left at (road to Shadow Mountain Golf Resort) onto the Wycliffe Park Road. Continue on this road until reach the ‘Old Wycliffe Road’, turn left. Proceed about 1 km then turn right on the Perry Creek Road. Follow this road for about 10-km. The trailhead will be on your left.)

Powder Creek (Kaslo) — Access to these secluded falls is by boat/kayak.  Paddle from the shores of Kaslo across Kootenay Lake. Known by the locals as “Angel Falls”, these are a short trek from the shoreline.

(Location: Paddle across Kootenay Lake to Powder Creek, it’s a short trek to the falls.  Don’t have a kayak or boat, check in with Kaslo Kayaking — this is one of their popular excursions.) 

Powder Creek Falls; photo by Heidi Korven

Springer Creek (Slocan) — Here you can hike from falls to falls. And these network of trails are open to expert mountain bikers as well.  And if you wish to access alpine views of the Slocan Valley, take the 4×4 road on the north side of the creek. 

(Location: Start in the camp ground in Slocan and make your way up, across the highway for falls after falls.)

Sutherland (Revelstoke) – This 12-m high waterfall is located in Blanket Creek Provincial Park. The hike to the falls is short and easy but the reward of this stunning waterfall is worth the detour.  

(Location: Drive south of Revelstoke on Highway 23. Turn off the highway at the Blanket Creek Provincial Park. Locate the falls trail Parking lot and walk into the viewpoint.)

Tulip Creek (Castlegar) — The short trail follows Tulip Creek into a stunning canyon, the canyon is decorated with red-stained walls and moss with the intermittent fern adding some stunning colours.  

(Location: Drive north across the bridge connecting Castlegar and Robson. Turn left on Broadwater Road into Robson. Follow for 19 km and enjoy the view. Veer right at Syringa Creek Provincial Park and continue up Deer Park Road gravel road for 3.5-km, watch for logging trucks. There is a small parking lot beside the first creek which the gravel road crosses, is where the trailhead begins.)

Tulip Creek Falls in Syringa Provincial Park near Castlegar; photo by Ashley Voykin

Other ‘Well-known’ Waterfalls
~ Brisco (north of Radium Hot Springs)
~ Cottonwood Falls (Nelson)
~ Fairy Creek (Fernie)
~ Findlay Creek (near Canal Flats)
~ Fletcher Falls (Kaslo)
~ Marysville Falls (Kimberley)
~ Moyie/Lumberton Falls (Moyie)
~ Perry Creek Falls (near Cranbrook)
~ Sinclair Canyon (Radium Hot Springs)
~ Takakkaw Falls (Yoho National Park)
~ Wapta Falls (Yoho National Park)
~ Wilson Creek (New Denver)

Know Before You Go – Plan ahead so you can travel safely and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with weather, road conditions, general alerts for travellers and provincial health orders & recommendations.

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Cover/top photo by Shannon Harrison at Cherry Creek Falls near Kimberley.

Story by Shannon Harrison (KootRocks Staffer).  

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