When the temperatures drop, Vancouver’s cascading creeks and streams freeze into dramatic waterfall ice sculptures that look like something out of a fairy tale. See them for yourself on a hike or snowshoe trip. Here are some of Vancouver’s most gorgeous frozen waterfalls that you can visit in winter.
- Use caution near the waterfalls. Don’t get too close: chunks of ice can fall from above at any time. Stay off the ice: creeks may not be as frozen as they look.
- Depending on trail conditions, you will need either snowshoes or microspikes for all of these hikes. Be prepared for deep snow or lots of slippery ice.
- Bring a backpack with essential safety and first aid gear on every trip.
- Check the forecast and pack extra clothing for the weather. Be sure to bring lots of waterproof gear and warm layers.
- Leave a trip plan so someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.
- Avalanches are common in our local mountains. Check the avalanche forecast before you go and consider taking an avalanche safety course or a free online tutorial.
Norvan Falls, North Vancouver
This hike at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park follows Lynn Creek upstream to Norvan Falls. The trail is at a mid-mountain elevation, so it doesn’t usually have much snow. But during cold snaps, the waterfall freezes into a gorgeous column of ice. The trail to get there can be very icy, so bring microspikes. It’s a moderate hike that takes about 5 hours to cover 14 km. Use the park map to stay on track.
Partially frozen Norvan Falls. Photo: Taryn Eyton
Alexander Falls, Whistler
This spectacular waterfall near Whistler is 55m tall and freezes into tiers of icicles each winter. In the summer the only way to see it is from a viewing platform. But in the winter you can snowshoe right to the base thanks to the marked trails at Ski Callaghan/Whistler Olympic Park. Access the falls via a 2.5 km loop trail that takes about 2 hours. It has some very steep sections and is rated moderate. Use the trail map to find your way. Book trail tickets online in advance.
Nairn Falls, Pemberton
This flat trail runs along the banks of the Green River to beautiful Nairn Falls. It’s spectacular in winter as ice builds up inside a granite chasm. The 3km snowshoe trail takes about 1.5 hours return and is rated easy, but use caution as the trail has lots of steep drop-offs. The day-use parking lot at Nairn Falls Provincial Park is located just south of Pemberton and is plowed and open Tuesday to Sunday.
7 More (Sometimes) Frozen Waterfalls
Vancouver’s winters are mostly mild, which means that waterfalls near sea level don’t usually freeze. However, the Vancouver area sometimes experiences a little bit of polar vortex air, which brings exceptionally cold temperatures and ices up the waterfalls for a few days. Check out these waterfalls to see gorgeous ice the next time Vancouver gets frigid weather:
- Cypress Falls, West Vancouver
- Twin Falls in Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver
- Kanaka Creek Cliff Fal, Maple Ridge
- Cascade Falls, Mission
- Bridal Veil Falls, Chilliwack
- Flood Hope Falls, Hope
- Shannon Falls, Squamish