About “Goldstream Niagara Falls” (Niagara Falls)
“Goldstream Niagara Falls” seemed to us to be a rather obscure waterfall, which was surprising because it was barely a quarter-mile from a busy highway and it was within the Goldstream Provincial Park, which was a pretty built-up park complete with picnic tables, interpretive signs, a visitor center, and a campground. And as you can see from the photo above, this 47.5m tall waterfall more than held its own in the scenery department. However, without prior research to reveal the not-so-obvious trail to reach the waterfall, it was very easy to miss, and this was what made this waterfall all the more perplexing. Heck, even the name that we’ve associated with the falls could be confusing as it went by other names like “Little Niagara Falls”, “Niagara Falls”, “Golden Falls”, and even GoldStream Falls (that last name belonged to a different waterfall that also happened to be within the boundaries of Goldstream Provincial Park). Indeed, “Goldstream Niagara Falls” was an unofficial name (hence the quotes) that I noticed some people used to distinguish it from other waterfalls when doing Google searches. Certainly, there was a lot to be scratching our heads about concerning this waterfall, but there was no denying that it was possibly one of the more satisfying waterfalling experiences to be had on Southern Vancouver Island as it was the first waterfall of this magnitude on our epic 2017 Summer road trip where we had it all to ourselves as family!
Our hike began from a well-signed and well-established parking lot for the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre (see directions below). At the fairly spacious parking lot, there were lots of picnic tables and interpretive signs as well as several trails and buildings. From the far northern end of the parking lot, we walked to a four-way intersection, then took the leftmost path to continue walking in a northerly direction. The trail was very wide and flat, and it seemed like it was built for high volume traffic. It was flanked by tall fir trees as well as some openings revealing neighboring mountains and low-lying bush.
At each of the signed junctions, we continued walking towards the Visitor Centre (about 1km from the parking lot). We’d eventually get to a spot where a tunnel running beneath the Trans-Canada Highway was on our left (roughly 400m from the trailhead). Despite no obvious signs or hints indicating the way to Goldstream Niagara Falls, we knew that we had to leave the wide trail and walk through the tunnel (much to Julie’s disbelief). When we made our visit in early August, the tunnel was mostly dry. However, in wetter times (like in the Spring), this tunnel can be flooded and impassable. Under those circumstances, you’d either have to find your way up to Hwy 1 then make a dangerous crossing or you’d have to know to park in a pullout somewhere near here right off the southbound lanes (more on that in the directions).
After emerging from the other side of the tunnel, we then had a choice of doing a rocky creek scramble or climbing up to a fairly obvious-looking trail on our left that paralleled the dry creek. After roughly 200m or so, we eventually saw the Goldstream Niagara Falls. In order to get all the way to the bottom of the falls, if we were on the hiking trail, we’d have to make a steep but short scramble down to the creek bed. If we were already in the creek bed, then we could continue all the way to the falls itself. That said, we didn’t want to linger here too long since the large boulders fronting and surrounding the waterfall’s plunge pool was an indication that rockfalls do happen. In any case, after having our fill of this falls, we went back the way we came, and we managed to spend about 50 minutes away from the car (though a good chunk of time was spent just enjoying having the waterfall all to ourselves).
We’ll describe the directions both from the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal as well as downtown Victoria (since we managed to make these drives).
From the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal, we drove about 26km south on Hwy 17 before taking exit 1 onto McKenzie Ave (towards Nanaimo and Sooke). Once on McKenzie Ave, we then took this surface street for about 2km before merging onto the Trans-Canada Hwy (Hwy 1) towards Nanaimo. We continued on Hwy 1 for about 13km before taking exit for the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre on the right. Once on the exit, we then immediately turned left and parked towards the end of the parking lot. Overall, this drive took us about an hour though this dependended on how much traffic there was.
Coming from Victoria, we drove north on Douglas St, which eventually became the Trans-Canada Hwy (Hwy 1). We followed Hwy 1 for about 19km before exiting on the right for the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre on the right. This route took me on the order of 45 minutes.
Finally, if you’re trying to park in one of the obscure pullouts alongside the southbound lanes of Hwy 1 after leaving or passing by the turnoff for the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre (as mentioned above), then due to the limited opportunities to make a U-turn (thanks to a combination of the terrain and the high speed and volume of traffic), you have to continue driving north on Hwy 1 for about 5.5km before you finally get an opportunity to turn left into a large pullout before rejoining the southbound Hwy 1 lane. Once you’re back on the southbound lanes, then you can drive 5km to return to the bridge over Niagara Creek and seek out a nearby pullout on your right.
And for some geographical context, Victoria was about 31km (about 30-45 minutes drive) south of Sidney (where the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal was), about 111km (over 90 minutes drive) south of Nanaimo, and 40km (around an hour drive) east of Sooke.
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