Guide to Visiting Elk Falls Provincial Park, Campbell River, BC
Why Visit Elk Falls
Elk Falls Provincial Park is a “Must Do” if you are visiting the Campbell River area on Vancouver Island. With its cascading falls, suspension bridge over the river that cuts through the canyon below, and walking trails that weave through old growth forest, this is a favourite stop on any Vancouver Island road trip.
How to Get to Elk Falls
Elk Falls is easily accessed off of Gold River Highway, just 5 min off of Highway 19 as you enter Campbell River. There is ample parking in the designated lot with restroom facilities and an information map. The trailhead into the park and to the falls is accessed directly from the parking lot.
The Elk Falls Trail
The most direct way to get to the falls from the parking lot is to take the Millennium Trail. This is a 1 km crushed gravel and wheelchair accessible trail from the parking lot to the suspension bridge over the falls. The trail also includes an additional Old Growth Loop through the old growth forest along the river. Once you reach the falls, there are 2 look out points on either side of the river canyon which are connected by a metal suspension bridge. The falls are 25 metres tall, but the bridge is higher at 64 metres above the river canyon. It’s spectacular!
The water flow is controlled by a BC Hydro dam at John Hart Lake so the flow over the falls varies. (Fun Fact: In the spring, BC Hydro increases flow over the falls and down the river to the canyon to assist Steelhead salmon migrating and spawning below the falls.)
If you continue on the Millenium Trail you can view the falls from the other side of the river bank above the falls. This also leads to the short loop through the old growth forest.
My favourite part was seeing the immense amount of mist and spray spilling up the canyon walls! It was enough water to create small waterfalls cascading off the fern covered canyon walls on the opposite side of the ravine. Truly beautiful!
When is the Best Time to Visit the Falls
Elk Falls is a year round destination, but the amount of water cascading down the falls will vary by season and by damming activity by BC Hydro. Winter and early spring will have the most water flow, while summer and early fall will have low water levels due to dry summer conditions.
The pictures in this blog post were all taken during winter when water levels are at their peak.