Cool Creek Canyon – Pemberton Hikes

Cool Creek Canyon – Pemberton Hikes

Cool Creek Canyon autumnal slopesThe 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
Facilities:
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…

Autumnal prettiness

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!

Cool Creek Canyon autumnal slopes  Cool creek canyon - pretty fall trees  Cool Creek Canyon - waterfalls

31 thoughts on “Cool Creek Canyon – Pemberton Hikes

    1. Yes!! I think your side of Canada has even prettier fall displays but I looooove the look of all the golden trees near Pemberton!

    1. Thanks Frede! We got really lucky! We arrived with *just* enough time to hike up, watch the sun set behind the mountains and get down before it was dark!

  1. Thanks for introducing me to a new hike; looks wonderful. You guys are great for squeezing this in at the end of the day. Next time you’re up there, stop in at Barn Nork in Mt. Currie for the most awesome Thai meal.

    1. Ooooh thank you! Caroline! I think I saw that on the way past! I also heard there is a burger in Pemberton that is soooo good it made one of our Austrian friends shed a tear (of joy!) I need to work out where that is though!!

      I hope you have a peek up this Canyon. It wasn’t long, but those waterfalls were awesome!!

    1. You really would! 😀

      Also, your book arrived today! Yay!! I’ll send you a message as I need to send you money for postage!!

  2. Having just finished a 17 miles walk around south east London I can honestly say yours is prettier (and steeper and rockier and….) but you didn’t have a triangular weirdy folly called Severndroog Castle… so there!! Lovely Jose… mine will follow shortly

    1. I LOVE that castle!! It’s even better now you can go inside and buy ice-creams. When we first went there it was all looking a bit dilapidated!

      p.s. I’ll watch out for your post and happy dog photos!

  3. I can’t get over how beautiful your part of the world is. The waterfalls along this trail look so beautiful, and the climb looked challenging, but worth it. The hard-to-find trailhead (along with the limited parking) probably had something to do with the empty trail. I find that these trails are some of my favorites. Great post, Josy! 🙂🏔️

    1. Yeah! I think it’s also that there is little about it online. It’s one of those walks that is amazing in real life, but not easy to instagram…so I have a feeling it will stay quiet!

    1. Yes, it was such a good one! <3

      It's also kind of funny to do it right after Joffre lakes, where there are a zillion other hikers! It just shows how diverse the walks are in your book!

  4. Stunning views once again Josy. Great time of year to enjoy the beauty of nature too. For walking, Autumn is probably my favourite time of year. Your post does it full justice too. Well, that’s true of all your travels!

      1. A lot to be said for a lack of biting insects! I also feel you can combat cool in a way that heat doesn’t allow. It seems to add vitality into a walk too… at least I think so!

        1. Yes, I totally agree. Although, I think I have gotten a little better at coping with cold walks since moving here and hiking in the snow. I was a bit more of a wimp in the UK!

  5. Ooh now we’ll definitely have to add that to the list – very cool (pun very much intended)! Love the trees on the boulder field (I’m guessing cottonwoods?) and Mt Currie is spectacular from that angle.

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