The Cool Creek Canyon trail was *such* a lovely surprise! It doesn’t seem very popular, despite being listed in Stephen Hui’s fantastic 105 Hikes in and around Southwestern British Columbia book. Or maybe it was just that no-one else is silly enough to start a second hike at 4pm in October!? Anyway, this is a super-speedy, fun walk up a waterfall-filled canyon, with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and glowing autumn leaves.
The walk is only 2km, one there, and one back BUT don’t think that makes this easy! You climb 300m of elevation in a single kilometer. This means the path is steep and will really get your heart pumping.
Cool Creek Canyon – The basics
Distance: 2km (although my phone thinks it was 2.4km)
Elevation gain: 320m
Highest Point: 710m
Time: 1.5 hours
What to bring:
It’s very steep, so I found walking poles helpful. Marc didn’t use his.
The ten essentials
There is a picnic bench on one side of Cool Creek Canyon.
How hard is it?
Moderate. It is very steep, so it felt hard BUT you can chant “this is only one kilometer” and get through it! It feels like a loooong kilometer to the top!
Cool Creek Canyon Map
Cool Creek Canyon – getting there
The first problem is finding the start of the trail! You need to go through Mount Currie village, then follow the Pemberton Portage road. There is a teeny car park and a hand-made sign at the start of the Cool Creek Canyon trail. This is half way between Owl Ridge Road and Pool Creek Road. If you get to Pool Creek, road, you’ve gone too far!
Cool Creek Canyon – Waterfalls
Once you get started, you’ll find yourself gaining elevation VERY quickly as the path zooms up through this pretty, mossy forest. Every so often, you can look down to the gorgeous gushing water of the canyon. There are some wooden fences to stop you from falling into the canyon, but you need to be careful as this walk has a lot of drop-offs and cliffs!
Look carefully at the cliff in the photo above. It was totally covered in fluffy mosses…
I am sure this hike is lovely at any time of year, but as the sun was getting ready to set in autumn, it was stunning. The sides of the mountain were covered in deciduous trees, that were lit up as if the mountain had been swathed in gold.
We found a few places where the mountain was covered in fallen rocks (maybe from a glacier?) Still, some trees have still managed to take root and brighten up the grey bald patches.
Fungi, moss and lichen-land
The forest floor was also littered with quite a few different types of lichen. mushrooms and mosses. This is really helpful as the steep path will take your breath away. It’s great to have an excuse to look down and examine the forest floor, to slow your heart and have a rest!
Fun climbing moments
The path is pretty easy to follow the whole way up Cool Creek Canyon, but there are a few sections that are incredibly steep, with almost vertical drops down the mountain or cliffs. I am just really glad we followed the guide in my 105 Hikes book, as I would not want to come down the way we went up! Go anticlockwise.
We were treated to several more views down to the waterfalls. It seems like Cool Creek Canyon is basically a line of constant waterfalls for a whole kilometer. It looks sort of flat in my photo below, but that is just because we were looking down at it from above. That water was still roaring past!
Cool Creek Canyon Bridge
It is only 1 kilometer to the top of the creek, but our legs were feeling that elevation gain (we had to go quickly as the sun was going to set soon.) I was just starting to give up on seeing the bridge, when it appeared. Phew. The water was very fast and dangerous, even right up here, so I wouldn’t’ve wanted to cross the creek without the bridge!
The bridge itself is a simple wooden structure (in the photo below, next to Marc). It only has a hand rail on one side, so you can lean over and look at the water on the other side. I have a feeling people that are scared of heights would not like this bridge (or this whole walk to be honest!) Marc and I quite like seeing the world from up high, so we both loved it.
We stopped for a while to take photos of sun beams as the sun set behind the mountains in front of us. It was so, sooo bright. Once the sun had set, we could actually see more of the mountain views, but the trees stopped glowing.
Heading down the Canyon
The return journey is just as fun as the way up Cool Creek Canyon. This time you get to see the various waterfalls from different angles, on the opposite side of the creek. Half way down there is a picnic bench with some truly fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. I think the snow-covered mountain below is Mount Currie. Isn’t it beautiful!?
I also loved this view of the many mini waterfalls. It must be even more amazing to see this in spring, when the snow on the mountains above has started to melt!
The Cool Creek Canyon hike is not a very famous walk (yet!?), and it can be hard to find the trailhead (we drove straight past it at first…it’s not on google maps.) But we had so much fun. This hike won’t take very long, so it is perfect for the end of the day on the way back from Joffre Lakes (this is what we did), or other hikes near Pemberton. It would also be really good as a stop/ leg stretch if you were taking a long road trip. My legs were really happy and tired by the end of it.
If you just want to see some cool waterfalls, but not do the whole hike, take the path on the left side of the Canyon. Otherwise, take the path on the right side (you can see it from the map board.) Let me know if you like it as much as we did!