Whether staying in the lovely city of Parksville, BC, or just passing through on a Vancouver Island road trip, exploring Englishman River Falls & Little Qualicum Falls are two activities that everyone should add to their itinerary. These two short and easy hikes are very similar, however, each provides its own fantastic views of these two beautiful waterfalls.
Englishman River Falls
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is located in central Vancouver Island, about 20 minutes from Parksville, BC. From Highway 4, toward Port Alberni, take Errington Road and follow the signs to the parking area. (Note: there is also an Englishman River Regional Park nearby. While beautiful, this is not the location of the waterfall mentioned here).
Just under 2 miles round-trip (3 kilometers), this easy hike takes you through old growth forests, along the river and by many great places to admire the falls. The giant waterfall is just a short walk from the parking lot and a must-see even if you are only able to stop for a quick look before heading on your way. Stand on the bridge overlooking this massive waterfall to feel the mist on your face and hear the powerful water roaring below you.
The trail then follows along the river through beautiful forests and next to steep canyon cliffs (don’t worry there are fences to keep you far enough from the drop-off). And at the last bridge you are even able to go sit by the water for a relaxing break.
Complete the loop by crossing over the bridge and following the trail back to the parking area. But, don’t forget to stop along the way for more beautiful views of the river below and to admire the various trees and other plant life on the trail.
Little Qualicum Falls
Another can’t miss stop off of Highway 4, about 15 minutes from Parksville, is Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Just keep an eye out for the sign on your way from Parksville to Port Alberni.
Similar to the Englishman River Falls trail, this loop is just under 2 miles (about 3 kilometers) and a fairly easy hike. The trail starts with a somewhat steep walk down a wooden staircase to the lower falls bridge. This is a great place to take in the power and beauty of the falls.
Next head up the trail along the canyon while you listen to the water below. Soon you will reach another bridge with a roaring waterfall to the left of it and a quiet river to the right. Make sure to spend time admiring both before wandering back down the other side of the river to your car.
A few notes:
These two hikes are beautiful any time of year and should definitely make it on your Vancouver Island bucket list – even if you just walk out to the viewpoints and skip the loops! It rained during our entire trip to Vancouver Island, but the rain only made this area even more beautiful. Just make sure to wear waterproof everything!
During the summer you can even swim in the calmer areas of these rivers – just check to make sure you are definitely in a safe spot first! There are also plenty of areas for picnics. We can’t wait to go back when it is a bit warmer to enjoy these great recreational activities.