I’ve been on a bit of a waterfall hunt lately, which is thankfully easy to do on Vancouver Island. We are definitely blessed with a lot of beauties here. So many, in fact, that writing about them will have to be broken down into regions.
Which is exactly what I plan on doing…soon.
But this particular waterfall. Oh.My.Word.
This one stole my heart completely. And it’s not just the falls that are breathtaking. The trail leading up to the falls is truly magnificent too!
I knew right away that this spot deserved its own post.
There has been a lot of hype lately about the term ‘Forest Bathing’.
The practice of visiting a forest for health benefits originated in Japan in 1982. They call it Shinrin-yoku. It is basically the process of soaking up the sights, smells and sounds of a natural setting to promote physiological and psychological health.
After an extensive study, it was found that relaxing among the trees lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces stress hormone production, boosts the immune system, and improves the overall feeling of wellbeing.
As with most things, the concept has recently taken stock in the Western world, and it’s now the latest fitness trend to hit the U.S.
The objective of a Shinrin-yoku walk is to take it slow. It’s a time to appreciate the things that can only be seen or heard when one is moving slowly. The rustling of the leaves, the chirping of the birds, the trickle of flowing water.
We are extremely fortunate on Vancouver Island to be completely surrounded by locations that allow us to do just that.
Our recent hike to Rosewall Creek Falls, had us overflowing with gratitude.
The spot is the ultimate soul food.
If you are in need of some forest bathing, this is definitely the place to go!
Rosewall Creek Falls
Rosewall Creek Provincial Park
Access to the falls is through Rosewall Creek Provincial Park, which is situated between Bowser and Fanny Bay.
The park offers a small day-use area with picnic tables overlooking beautiful Rosewall Creek. There is also a short loop trail that runs along both sides of the creek, which leads you over an abandoned rail trestle.
But the trail you want to go on to get to the falls follows the creek upstream and under the highway bridge. Although the trail starts at the Provincial Park, you will actually be walking beyond the park boundaries to the reach the falls.
A Bit of History
In the parking area, you will see a memorial sign for Lt. Ian MacDonald. The park was established in 1956 in memory of this Fanny Bay resident, who died in action during the allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.
Rosewall Creek Provincial Park is located approximately 3 km south of Fanny Bay.
- Take the Cook Creek interchange off of Highway 19
- Follow Cook Creek Rd down to Hwy 19A and turn left (onto the highway)
- Turn right off of Hwy 19A onto Berray Road
- The entrance sign for the Provincial Park will be on your left-hand side just as you turn onto Berray Road
Alternatively, and for a more scenic drive, you can take Hwy 19A all the way from Parksville. This meandering highway will lead you through French Creek, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay and Bowser before you reach Berray Road.
Trail to the Falls
From the parking area at the Provincial Park, take the trail that leads you upstream (left at the memorial sign mentioned above). Within a few minutes, you will be winding your way around and under both of the highway bridges (Hwy 19 and 19A).
From there you will leave the highway noise behind and continue to follow the creek upstream.
The trail is within a second-growth forest of Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Western Red Cedar, and Sitka Spruce. There are also plenty of Alder and Big Leaf Maple trees too (I can only imagine how beautiful this place must look in the Fall!). The forest is also rich with lichen, moss, fungus and mushrooms creating a beautiful woodland scene.
This is one of the man-made bridges you must cross over to continue on the trail to the falls.
Although this rustic trail is relatively flat, with only a few short inclines, there are a lot of obstacles to pass over. To give you an idea of what I mean when I say ‘obstacles’, there are many large stumps and logs to manoeuvre around or duck under, and a few creeks to cross over (on man-made bridges). My eight-year-old son counted 78 of these obstacles. (But please keep in mind that being little makes even the smallest of obstacles more difficult).
I assure you that the effort is most definitely worth it!
Length of Trail
The trail to the falls is approximately 4 km, making the entire trip there and back 8 km. At around the 2.5 km mark, you will leave the Provincial Park boundaries and continue on.
This is an image of the smaller falls
There are actually two separate waterfalls to view, both within the same area. The one you see in the image above is the easiest to take a picture of (has the best vantage point). If you follow the trail a bit further up, you will be able to get a better view of the larger falls (as seen in the very first image at the top of this post). Please note, the trail to view the larger falls is not maintained and quite steep (but doable with sure footing).
I would assume that during the summer months when the water levels are lower you might be able to ramble along the large rocks in the clear pools to get a better vantage point of the larger falls. But if you do decide to do this, please know you are doing so at your own risk.
These large rocks make for a great place to rest and have a snack while enjoying the beautiful scenery!
Things to Note
While we didn’t see any wildlife during our trip, this is a prime bear and cougar area. It’s always best to be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for an encounter. For more information on what to do if you happen to come across either of these animals while hiking, please read our post entitled, Potential Wildlife Encounters on Vancouver Island.
Also, make sure to bring:
- Good hiking shoes
I’ll leave you with a few other images of our hike to Rosewall Creek Falls (I was driving my family crazy with the amount of photo’s I took). If you want a closer view, click on one of the images and scroll through.
While you are in the Area
While you’re in the Fanny Bay area, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Government Wharf to view the sea lions. A rather large colony of them hang out on the man-made floats just off the end of the wharf.
Each winter they amass in great anticipation of the spawning herring, which happens in February. However, they are obviously quite at home in Fanny Bay, for they can be spotted on their perches at almost any time of the year.
You can read more about these sea lions and how to get to the Government Wharf in our post entitled: The Best Spot to View Sea Lions on Vancouver Island.
So tell me, have you been to either of these places in Fanny Bay? Have you hiked to Rosewall Creek Falls? Have you visited the sea lions?
Let me know about your experience(s) in the comments below.
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