The parks of Vancouver Island are renowned for their abundance of wildlife, winding trails, and magnificent scenery, and Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is no different.
Located on the Englishman River north of Nanaimo, this park is a popular destination for those looking to enjoy the forest’s towering trees as well as the gushing waters of the twisting river.
Welcome to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park
Englishman River Falls was officially established in 1940, however, its history dates back to hundreds of years before it was founded. In fact, according to local legend, the area was given its name by the First Nation people of Vancouver Island.
The story goes that, many centuries ago, the skeleton of a white man was found on the riverbed close to one of the waterfalls, and so the park was named accordingly.
What’s more, the park’s long history is evident when gazing at the ancient trees that loom over the forest floor. These natural giants have stood in the park for centuries, with some being over 800 years old.
The most impressive feature of the 97-hectare park is the two waterfalls that plunge down into the Englishman River.
These waterfalls descend into swimming holes that allow visitors to swim in the river’s crystal-clear water at the bottom of the lower falls.
If you’re thinking of visiting the area for a dip in the river’s natural pool, we recommend going in late spring or summer as the water can get extremely cold when the temperatures drop!
When you visit the area, we also suggest looking for the two long bridges that cross both the park’s rivers. These bridges can be used as great viewpoints that look out across the rocky river canyon and offer hikers the chance to see a variety of fish including trout and salmon that are often seen flipping and jumping from the water.
Englishman River Falls Campground
If you’re planning on camping at Englishman River Campground, please note that the campsite is normally open from the end of April to late September, and you’ll have to pay a small fee.
The park has 104 vehicle-accessible sites available and 72 of these are reservable (we highly recommend reserving a site if you’re thinking of camping over in summer as it can get very busy). Please note that winter camping isn’t allowed.
The park even has a day-use area for the whole family to relax and enjoy the natural environment. Picnic shelters are located near the parking lot of the campsite.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is one of 11 BC Parks that feature kid’s bike parks, or also called pump tracks. They are super cool and will keep the kids entertained for hours!
Englishman River Falls Hike
One of Englishman River Provincial Park’s most impressive features is the multiple trails that the park offers. The most popular is the Englishman River Falls Loop, a 1.5km trail that offers stunning views of the park’s long winding rivers.
The loop winds through a forest of Douglas fir, cedar, maple, and hemlock and gives hikers the opportunity to look out across the river canyon from the various viewpoints that can be found on the trail.
These viewpoints are also frequently used by avid bird watchers hoping to spot the wild locals in the forest’s foliage. Because of the wide variety of wildlife that lives in the park, it is required for visitors to keep their dogs and other pets on a leash at all times.
While walking into the park’s vast forests, you’ll notice the canopy of the tall trees that creates a natural barrier between the sun and the forest floor. As you venture deeper into the forest, the surroundings will become darker, and the noises of the surrounding freeways will become silent.
At this point, take a moment to pause and listen to your surroundings. The forests of Englishman River Falls are home to an array of bird species from small sparrows that flit through the branches of the ancient trees to large hawks that glide over the forest’s canopy as they search for food.
As you journey through Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, listen out for the birds singing to each other and see how many different species you can spot.
It’s no surprise that Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is a popular destination for fishing. Every year, thousands flock to the area with hopes of catching one of the many varieties of fish available in the Englishman River such as steelhead trout and pink salmon.
Between the months of January to May, steelhead trout fill the river but you’re more likely to catch pink salmon during the warmer summer months (from July to August). It’s important to note that those hoping to fish in the area need certain licenses depending on where they want to fish.
If you’re planning on fishing at the upper river, you’ll need a British Columbia freshwater fishing license whereas if you want to fish at the lower river, you’ll need a tidal fishing license.
To get to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, follow signs for Errington Road, which is located off Highway 4, around 13km south of Parksville.
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