Location: Lynn Headwaters Regional Park
Park here: Lynn Headwaters Entrance Parking Lot
Public Transport: Bus # 210 from downtown Vancouver
Hike Distance: 14 km roundtrip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 195 m
Hike Duration: 5 hours
What makes it moderate? Mostly flat on well-marked trails, but it is long
Park website: Click here
Norvan Falls, a seven-kilometre hike to an elegant cascade on the cusp of Lynn Valley’s bristling backcountry, is perhaps the most classic of the North Shore’s moderately-rated trails: well-loved but never too congested, mostly flat and long enough to justify a decent day’s exercise without pulverizing your knees. I usually jog it (and I’m not the only one). Others bring their dogs, pack a picnic and enjoy meandering beneath a sun-dappled canopy of densely packed trees.
Since the path is 95 per cent wooded, there are few spectacular viewpoints en route, although the forest is shady and atmospheric and the falls maintain a natural, rustic feel.
For ambitious adventurers, the hike acts as a good rest-stop on the way to more challenging excursions. In the past, I’ve stopped at Norvan Falls on my way to Hanes Valley, Coliseum Mountain and Lynn Lake.
Finding the Trailhead
I caught a bus to the End of the Line store in Upper Lynn Valley, from where I walked the last 1.5-kilometres along the narrow asphalt Lynn Valley Road to the park entrance.
From the entrance parking lot, cross the wooden bridge over Lynn Creek. The trail starts on the opposite bank next to a large map and information board.
The Hike Itself
For the first section, the path follows the wide, flat Lynn Loop trail, perennially popular with families, joggers and dog-walkers. As I sallied forth on a sunny Saturday in late July, I had plenty of company.
After 1.8-kilometres, the Lynn Loop branches off to the right. Stay on the main path, now called the Cedars Mill Trail, after an erstwhile lumber mill, as it narrows and incorporates short sections of boardwalk.
I loved the sporadic views of Lynn Creek, ever present on the left-hand side during the first half of the hike.
At the four-kilometre mark, the path briefly traverses an open area known as the 3rd Debris Chute, site of a metal rescue cache. Mount Fromme and Goat Ridge rise majestically in the background.
After 3rd Debris Chute, the path becomes narrower and more rustic, although I still managed to maintain a steady jog.
The only tricky bits are several bridge-less creek crossings laced with roots and scattered rocks. Fortunately, they are invariably dry in the summer.
The path is clearly marked with kilometre posts throughout.
Just shy of the seven-kilometre point, you’ll reach Norvan Creek. A metal suspension bridge to the left marks the start of the path into the Hanes Valley, the gateway to the North Shore’s gritty backcountry. For the falls, turn right and climb 200 metres to the final viewing spot.
Like most hikers, I scrambled down to the river and sat on the rocks where I was able to gain a better appreciation of the 30-metre-high cascade. Some people even go for a cold dip in the pool at the bottom.
Afterwards, I retraced my steps to the start. At 3rd Debris Chute, there’s an option to return via the slightly harder and longer Headwaters trail (five kilometres).
Before You Go:
- With its low elevation, Norvan Falls is usually accessible year-round, although the path can be wet, slippery and snowy in the fall/winter.
- Black bears are regularly spotted in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Carry bear spray.
- Informative brochures including trail maps are available at the trailhead.
Have you hiked to Norvan Falls? Tell us about your experience!
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