"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).
The famous Butchart Gardens was very close to Sidney (where the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal was), and it was on the way to Goldstream Provincial Park
It was around a half-hour drive from Victoria and Victoria Harbour to Goldstream Provincial Park. Victoria Harbour was the main tourist spot of downtown Victoria
The houseboats at Fisherman's Wharf a bit set back from Victoria Harbour was one of the more surprising highlights of our time spent in Vancouver Island
Approaching the restroom facility
Lots of picnic tables by the parking lot for the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre
This was the wide and flat trail leading towards the Goldstream Provincial Park Visitor Centre
Going past a signed junction near some slanted trees that looked like they wanted to topple over
Julie and Tahia continuing on the wide footpath leading to the visitor centre while being towered over by these mossy fir trees
This was the tunnel beneath Hwy 1 that left the main trail and led us to the Goldstream Niagara Falls. Since there was no signage nor obvious trails pointing this way, this was what made the falls so obscure
When we emerged from the other side of the tunnel, we opted to walk this easy creekside trail
When we started to see the falls, we got to the end of the trail and further progress meant we had to scramble down the hillside to our right
Looking ahead towards the last of the scrambling. Note the steep hillside with the fallen trees on our left. That was the steep hillside we had to descend in order to get down to the creek bed from the trail
Julie and Tahia scrambling to get as close to the falls as they could
Julie and Tahia looking up at the falls from the edge of the small plunge pool
After having our fill of the falls, we decided to scramble back within the dry creekbed
These were the first people we saw on the other side of the tunnel on the morning of our visit
Tahia returning to the tunnel
Julie and Tahia hiking beneath the slanted trees that seemingly threatened to topple over
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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