I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Two Waterfalls off the Highway North of Nanaimo
If you are heading north of Nanaimo and looking for scenic waterfalls with walking trails in the vicinity, two waterfall parks that I have direct experience with are Englishman River Falls near Parksville and Nymph Falls in the Comox/Courtenay area. With the affiliated trails in mind, the former I would recommend visiting while the latter is one that I would not be eager to do again.
Regardless of which one you might visit, you will certainly want to have your GPS on. They are both located off of roads that wouldn't be used except for by locals or by people going to the respective parks. I remember trying to 'wing it' to each park and having a little bit of needless difficulty finding them.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Englishman River Falls are very nice waterfalls that you can get an overhead look at without much effort or time out of your vehicle. The walk from the parking lot to the falls is only about one minute.
For better or worse, this isn't the kind of park where you build up to the main attraction with a long walk or hike. That can have a downside in that there are is a large public presence at the waterfalls, with no serious physical qualification required to get to them. Then again, it's friendly for seniors, people with limited mobility, and children.
There is plenty of viewpoint space, there are informational placards, and there is an extended walking area if you are looking to get some exercise in. The trails have some slopes and inclines but the elevation would only be a moderate test for most.
In the following video, which I made in July 2020, I show the viewpoint area that is easily accessible. As you can see, these aren't the puny six-foot waterfalls that you do actually find in some parks. I guess they aren't immense either but, for the area, they are better than average.
Video Footage of Englishman River Falls
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The Trails Around the Waterfalls
The trails that are directly in this park aren't lengthy. However, they do connect to a large network for those looking to make this park just a pitstop as part of a longer danger. There was a zigzagging trail along with a ridge with a lot of spots to take in some of the scenery in the immediate vicinity, scenery that usually had to do with the ravine that the river carved out.
In the next video, you will get a different angle on the falls. Be warned that this video is much louder than the first one. I took a short walk down a path to the riverside and then ventured as close to the falls as I could get. It might look dangerous but there were dry spots to walk on. This certainly isn't a viewpoint where you would want to take kids or pets.
You can see the bridge that the first video was on and that's probably where you should stay. I don't think I would venture this close to the falls again in the future.
Englishman River Falls Very Close Look
Nymph Falls Nature Park Near Comox and Courtenay
I didn't actually like the trails around Nymph Falls that much. I would categorize them as trails that provide a nicer walker than city streets.
On my outing to this park, I took a trail called the Long Loop Trail. There wasn't much elevation to help with calorie burning or cardio. The borders of this small park prevented any kind of long excursion. Lastly, there were also a lot of signs that indicated that certain trails were for cyclists only so it wasn't the most pedestrian-friendly park.
Getting directly to the viewpoint of the falls only required a short walk. It's just a few minutes from the parking lot. The falls are not impressive for height but they roll down what appears to be a staircase. They were nice to look at for a few minutes and the time investment will not be immense if the waterfalls are all you are going for.
Short Video of Nymph Falls on Vancouver Island
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert