1. They exist.
I’ve lived in North Vancouver for twenty years and my family liked to hike. I had never even heard of Kennedy Falls before. Funnily enough, this trail runs parallel to the one leading to Norvan Falls but on the opposite side of Lynn Creek.
2. You probably won’t feel graceful.
It’s not a hard trail in the sense of uphill slog, but it is a hard trail to try and keep your footing. There are roots and rocks to trip you up, and this spring, all that great snowfall we had is creating mud. Lots and lots of mud. Whatever colour your shoes were on the way in, they will probably be brown on the way out.
And then there’s the series of creeks to cross…
3. Maybe bring a friend?
As I mentioned above, the possibilities for even small injury were higher than expected on this hike. Getting tripped up and losing balance happened often, but I also slipped (tripped?) and splatted down into 6 inches of mud and simultaneously nearly impaled myself on the branch stump of a fallen log… I was fine, if scratched and bruised, but it was a good reminder that it doesn’t take much.
Aside from the trail itself, there’s also a number of creeks to cross and the climb in and out of some of those creek beds can be slippery. You might want to bring a friend for back up, juuuuust in case.
Is it worth it, though? Absolutely!
I would imagine that in the height of summer it won’t be as hard (I’ll be going and will update). There won’t be as much mud and the creeks will be running lower. Also, unlike the Norvan Falls trail, this one faces north and east so it will be cooler.
The hike can be cut into a shorter one. The first section is called Big Cedar Trail, aptly named for the giant cedar you reach. It seems to be the most popular spot. You add another couple of kilometres to get to Kennedy Falls.
Roundtrip all the way to Kennedy you’re looking at just under 11km and elevation gain of around 300m. Much of the elevation gain happens beyond the Big Cedar.
At the trailhead, you can either go along the Old Grouse Mountain Highway or the easy mountain biking/hiking trails that run parallel. There are a number of entrances along the road that you can take. Once the road takes a sharp left though, you’ll start climbing Mt Fromme so you’ll want to get on the trails before that. Also, if the mountain biking/hiking trail is marked blue or black, it’s not the trail you’re looking for.
It can be a bit confusing, but essentially while you’re in the network of mountain biking trails, stay clear of any path that makes you veer off up or downhill. You’re crossing the side of Mt Fromme, not climbing it.
The map at the bottom will give you a better idea.
Although the path may occasionally look like it could disappear or split off in other directions, it’s actually well marked. Just look up from your feet when you’re not sure and look around. (Maybe stop first, though? Walking and looking around is not recommended on this trail…) Sometimes it looks like a dead end, but once you reach the marker you see the rest of the trail.
One thing to keep in mind is parking. There is a parking lot by the trailhead, but it fills up fast with mountain bikers and there is a 3-hour limit. You can easily get to the Big Cedar in that time, but Kennedy Falls might be a stretch depending on your fitness and confidence as a hiker. Like I said, footing is tough especially with all the mud.
You’ll want to park down the road if you plan on taking longer, but the closest section is permit-only so make sure to read the signs.
The Falls themselves are gorgeous. They’re tall and you walk up to the base so you get all of that awesome spray. Can’t wait to see them in the summer!
IF YOU GO:
- Difficulty: Hard. See above.
- Distance: 10.7 km roundtrip
- Elevation Gain: 295m
- Public Transit: Yes.
- Parking: Yes.
- Dog friendly: Yes.