Norvan Falls Trail – Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

Quick Facts:

  • AllTrails link: Norvan Falls, 13.8km with 345m elevation
  • Difficulty: moderate to challenging, 5 hour hike
  • Traffic: moderate
  • Facilities: pit toilet at the parking lot
  • View: Lynn Creek, Norvan Falls
  • Overall score: 8/10

This is Hike #5 on Stephen Hui’s 105 Hikes in and Around Southwestern British Columbia, which he rated as ‘easy’ with a quality of 2 stars out of 5. For us as a young, beginner-level hiking family, it’s a very enjoyable and moderately challenging 14km hike. Interestingly, Hui’s book states that this hike is 210m in elevation, whereas the AllTrails entry on this same hike shows 360m in elevation. Both sources state that this hike is doable in 5 hours, and that’s how much time it took us to complete it (carrying only our lighter baby). If we brought both kids out, it would likely take us 6 hours or more.

We came in mid March, with some patches of snow on the ground and some muddy sections. We brought 2 sets of crampons just in case, but we didn’t end up needing to use them. Waterproof hiking shoes recommended though!

We were lucky to grab the last remaining spot in the main parking lot. There are 2 overflow parking lots a few hundred meters further out if the main lot is full. The Metro Vancouver Regional District is planning to start charging for parking at some of their most popular parks, including Lynn Headwaters. The stated rate is going to be $2/hour. We saw similar preparation for installing parking pay stations at the overflow parking lots as well.

We walked past a few picnic tables near the parking lot, crossed the bridge, and started our hike at noon.

We followed the mostly flat and very easy Lynn Loop Trail along Lynn Creek. It’s flat and surfaced with loose gravel with minimal elevation.

Lynn Loop Trail.

After 1.8km, we came to a junction. We could turn right and start on the moderate Headwaters Trail, or we can stay left on the easy Cedar Mills Trail. These two trails meet again at the Third Debris Chute after basically the same distance, so it’s a purely personal choice which way to go. We chose the easy Cedar Mills Trail.

Cedar Mills is more rocky and interesting than Lynn Loop Trail. Soon we started to find patches of melting snow and mud, but since it’s still very flat it’s easy to walk through.

After 2.1km, we arrived at the Third Debris Chute. It’s basically a small clearing which can be used as an emergency helicopter landing site. There’s not much of a view here, with just a little glimpse of Lynn Creek.

We took a quick breather and a snack break, and headed away from Lynn Creek onto the moderately difficult Headwaters Trail.

There was a patch of compact snow on a slight slope right as we left the Third Debris Chute that almost made us put on our crampons, but it was only a few meters long and we managed without. (On the return trip, Tina did a shoe shuffle down.)

The rest of the hike was pretty much clear of snow. The terrain was a little rocky and rootie at some parts, but it never got too steep. There were no big long stretches of stairs to get our heart rate up.

There were 3 or 4 bigger dry creek crossings (or debris flow channels) to add some fun challenge. If we were both carrying a heavy baby carrier, though, this could be a little sketchy.

The last 200m stretch before getting to the falls is a little bit steeper but never too challenging.

Then, after 2hours and 10 minutes, voilà! Our objective of the day: Norvan Falls.

We spent a good half hour enjoying the view and the sound of water. The clear stream from the falls were right at our feet. I wished I brought my water filter so that I could filter some of this pristine water for my return trip.

Before we headed back down, we checked out the small metal suspension bridge that connects to Grouse Mountain via some very challenging hikes. All the challenging hikes in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park are closed in the winter. Not that we are ready to tackle these yet.

The most fun part of this hike for us was the last 3km from the Third Debris Chute to Norvan Falls. The entire hike was very quiet except for the sound of Lynn Creek. The trail was well marked with markers, so even though it’s not the easiest to spot the trail on the ground in some places, it’s easy to stay on trail.

Overall, we enjoyed this hike a lot. It does pose some moderately challenging obstacles to get through with a loaded carrier, but if you had enough familiarity with the pack and where the center of gravity is, it’s not too difficult to navigate. The varied terrain and rewarding waterfall would surely be enough to bring us back (parking fees notwithstanding).

Follow us as we explore all 23 Regional Parks in Metro Vancouver!

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