This has turned into quite the series about Strathcona Park, with my backpacking trips to Landslide Lake and Bedwell Bay being some of the highlights. But I want to spend a bit of time talking about waterfalls because there are so many to explore in the park and most of them are extremely easy to get to!
First up is Lady Falls. It’s located in the North end of the park along Highway 28 (as opposed to the road along Buttle Lake). If you’re going to Landslide Lake or Gold River, it’s a good stop along the way. There’s a small parking lot and it’s 500 metres each way (and 50m elevation gain) to get to the waterfall. There’s a platform from which to watch the falls thundering down into the ravine and you even catch some of the spray. Of the short waterfall hikes, Lady Falls is the easiest to get to and more impressive than Lupin Falls.
If you’re heading down Western Mines Road to the south end of the park, make sure to stop at Lupin Falls on the way there. It wasn’t as impressive as Lady Falls when we visited, but that’s because it was early September and extremely dry – I suspect it has a much higher flow in the Spring. It’s flat and less than 1km as a round trip hike through the woods. The waterfall was more of a trickle when we visited, but there are some beautiful tall trees to enjoy along the way.
Continuing on Western Mines Road, you’ll hit the parking lot for Lower Myra Falls at the south end of the lake, after the road for Bedwell Lakes. It’s a further drive than Lady Falls and Lupin Falls, but in my opinion, Lower Myra Falls is the best waterfall in the park (except for Della Falls). It starts with a steep hike down towards the lake, about 500 metres, but with 100m in elevation loss. There are two options for viewing – you can take the first left and see the upper falls and pool at the viewpoint – and then you can continue down to the middle falls where there’s another pool and you can explore around the rocks. You can walk along the edge of the falls as it cascades down towards the lake.
Our first trip was in the early morning, so it was too cold to swim and we decided to come back later in the afternoon. On the second visit, we went for a dip in the middle pool before climbing down over the rocks to the lake – “climbing” being the key word. There are various paths cutting through the woods, but none of them are official, so we just found the least dangerous route down to the lake where there was a large sandbar. I’m not sure if the sandbar is there year round though (lake level was very low when we visited), so exercise caution around the rocks as it would be easy to slip and fall.
We loved swimming in the lake. The waterfall pool was freezing cold, but the lake was a very balmy temperature and we enjoyed a proper swim before climbing back up to the parking lot. There’s a dam on the lake, so there are still all kinds of large tree stumps in the water from when they impounded the reservoir. It’s fun to swim out and stand on them, but be careful because they are slippery and have lots of sharp edges.
Our last waterfall was Upper Myra Falls. At 8km round trip, this is the longest waterfall hike in the park (that we did). If I we’re to rank them all, I would put Upper Myra Falls below Lower Myra Falls and Lady Falls, but above Lupin Falls. It’s a very high, narrow waterfall that comes out through the trees and cascades down to the forest floor. There’s no accessible pool, but there is a platform from which you can view it. It took us about an hour to hike the 4km to the platform and we hung around for a half hour and had lunch before heading back again. There’s only about 80m of elevation gain along the whole trail, so it’s not very difficult.
While it wasn’t my favourite waterfall, it still made for a nice little adventure. You have to drive through the active Westin Mine to get to the trailhead, which is an experience in itself, and the forest on the way to the falls is amazing! This trail is through old-growth forest, which is pretty rare in BC these days, so I enjoyed the tall, wide trees, and the chaos that makes up the undergrowth of an old growth forest.
And those are the waterfalls of Strathcona Park! There are more waterfalls that are accessible through other park entrances, the most notable of which is Della Falls and is only accessible by boat, but we only had time for the core area of the park on this trip. Overall I had a blast and would highly recommend this park, which is so large it feels more like a National Park!