If you’re looking for a long but not overly strenuous hike to a beautiful waterfall, look no further than Norvan Falls in North Vancouver, B.C.
Here’s what I love about this hike:
1. This trail is not a tease.
You don’t lose the elevation that you’ve worked so hard to earn until after you’ve reached the falls and turned around. None of that up-and-downhill-several-times nonsense. You go in, you work for it, you get rewarded, and you skip along home.
2. Half of the route is a stroll.
You start in Lynn Headwaters Park and those first (and last) 5km are quite literally a walk in the park. Much of it is along a wide gravel boulevard with minimal, if any elevation gain. That means you get eased in and eased out of your exercise.
3. Why yes, the waterfall is beautiful.
You can go in the middle of summer when water levels are low and there’s a pool of refreshingly cold water to cool you off after your efforts. OR you can go in the rainy/snowmelt seasons when the waters are rushing. Either way, worth the hike!
It’s about 16km roundtrip with roughly 500m elevation gain. As I said, the first and last 5km are quite easy.
An important note is that this year (2017) we saw a lot of snow in the region and it simply hasn’t melted in the valley as of the end of April. There’s also quite a lot of debris from a winter storm that hasn’t been cleared yet.
A bridge or two also seems to have collapsed so you’re crossing the creeks on rocks. Until the snow’s done melting, you’ll want to wear waterproof footwear. I had my Merrell’s and didn’t have any trouble, but my friend unfortunately wore runners. If you wear runners, you will have cold, wet feet.
As I said, the trail starts in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. The access road is closed to cars by the District of North Vancouver. There are worries that the road could slide off the side of the hill but it’s open to foot and bike traffic. There’s street parking by the End of the Line General Store but you can reach the trailhead from anywhere along the Baden Powell – which might help spread out the parking congestion until the District fixes the road.
Apart from those two hiccups (the snow and the access road), it’s smooth sailing. Once you get to the falls, be careful on the rocks. They’re often slippery. The water levels are high at the moment so you can’t get too close to the waterfall (in the summer you can swim in the pool) but it’s still gorgeous.
Rain or shine, it’s a great hike. There’s something really magical about waterfalls…
IF YOU GO:
- Difficulty: Moderate. Fairly easy but long, currently with snow and debris.
- Public Transit: Yes.
- Parking: Street.
- Dog friendly: Yes.