Coquitlam Lake View Trail – waterfalls & a bear!

Coquitlam Lake View Trail – waterfalls & a bear!

Coquitlam Lake View TrailSpring in Vancouver is a really good time to go and see waterfalls. There is still quite a lot of snow up high on the mountains. This melts and trickles into streams that then join up to give birth some pretty epic, gushing waterfalls. I recently bought the new 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia by Stephen Hui, and this mentions that the Coquitlam Lake View Trail has four waterfalls. We couldn’t resist a trail that combines good mountain views and waterfalls so as soon as I read about it, we drove out to Coquitlam. In the end, this walk was even better than I expected; Because we also met our first black bear in the wild(!) My friends named him Bearnard.

I have more to write about our trips to New Zealand and the UK…but I was so excited to see my first bear, that I have to share this first!!

Coquitlam Lake View trail map

Coquitlam Lake View Trail – the basics

Distance: 13 km
Elevation Gain:
 Just over 5 hours
What to bring: This trail is best with good (waterproof) hiking boots and I found my hiking poles useful. We brought plenty of water, but no lunch (we had apples and granola bars) next time I’ll bring more food as I was pretty peckish by the end of the walk! We had a map in my 105 hikes book, but the scale is a bit small, so it would have been better to bring a larger map. (Read through the 10 essentials.)
Facilities: There aren’t any loos or cafes, so pee before you get here! 
How hard is it:
 Intermediate. You need to cross some streams (by balancing on slippy rocks) and the hike up to the vistas is quite steep.

The path starts next to a shooting range. This is quite strange because every so often the quiet haven-like atmosphere is filled with the sound of gunfire. It is a slightly surreal way to start a walk!

Ex-old-growth trees

Most of the Coquitlam Lake View Trail is through pretty, forested areas. It is really beautiful, but it also had more massive tree stumps than any other walk we have seen near Vancouver. This area must have had a long history of logging when you see just how many huge old-growth stumps there are!

I mean, just look at this massive, hollow tree stump! It makes me look tiny!

You’ll need waterproof shoes

There are a few places along the trail where you need to clamber over boulders to cross streams. I have a feeling this might be too difficult early in the spring, but in May we could cross pretty easily. I found it easiest to use my hiking poles to keep my balance. Marc used a large stick, and then kept hiking with it, Gandalf-style. Marc did step into the water at one point, so he was glad to have waterproof boots and a second pair of socks!!

Dry Crossing Falls

The first waterfall of the day was Dry Crossing Falls. I’m not sure how this waterfall got its name, as this was the wettest waterfall that we crossed! Some other hikes crossed by standing on the sack of logs, but I found that far too wobbly, so Marc and I both crossed the stream by stepping on the rocks. Maybe they should rename this ‘slightly soggy crossing falls’!? The water was flowing so fast that there was a big pile of coffee cream-coloured bubbles at the edge of the water.

After crossing the waterfall, stick to the Coquitlam Lake View Trail by watching for a sign post to the right. This is the slightly tiring section of the walk. The Coquitlam Lake View at the top is lovely, but you really do earn that view. This section of the walk is pretty new, and marked out with pink ribbons. It’s easy to follow if you keep your eyes peeled.

Elephant’s grave yard

There were soooo many massive tree stumps, fallen branches and bits of forest debris on this trail. As the leftover stumps were so large, it made me think of an elephants graveyard. I really really hope all these massive trees went on to build something beautiful as it was quite sad to see so many tree skeletons. It was also quite strange to have so little greenery on the forest floor. I think the trees were all just so tall, that not enough light reaches down to plants on the forest floor. It was strange how brown and barren it seemed.

Coquitlam Lake View

We made it up to the viewpoint BUT then we met some other walkers who said if we kept climbing there was a newer, better viewpoint higher up. The final 5 minutes was the steepest section of our climb, but look at the reward! The long ridge is Eagle Mountain, Tangled summit and Mount Beautiful. We’ve only seen it from the other side of the Mountain at Buntzen Lake. I hope we can hike along there this summer!

Anyway, this is a pretty good place to stop for an apple!

Heading down

After taking in the view and chatting to another group of hikers, we headed back down through the elephant’s grave yard, and past Dry Crossing Falls again. On the way down I started to find some interesting fungi. I really liked the flat, black, lace-like fungi we found at the base of one of the huge tree stumps.

The Sawblade

If you like you can head back the same way you came. But we were keen to see more waterfalls, so we followed a bike trail called the Sawblade. Halfway down the trail there is an awesome sign to mark the trail! It’s painted onto an old, massive saw blade! There weren’t many cyclists around during our walk, but if you try this trail, be read to move out of the way if bikes need to zoom past! You descend a few hundred meters through the forest on this fun path.

Sawblade Falls

This was my favourite out of all the waterfalls we saw on the Coquitlam Lake View trail. You will start to hear the roar of the water as you hike down towards Sawblade falls. The, as you get closer, you can see the white water through the trees. To get the best view you need to climb down a steep bank. This is pretty slippy, but look how amazing the view is once you make it down!

It was a truly beautiful sight! We had been a little hot hiking through the trees, but the breeze next to Sawblade waterfall was all cool and refreshing. We spent a while clambering over the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall to get a better view and take photos.

Not a bad view for a cloudy day eh!?

After Sawblade Falls, you keep following the path through the forest to another viewpoint, then there is another steep decent towards the next waterfall, Woodland Walk Falls.

Just before you climb down to the next waterfall, there is a giant douglas fir tree. If you compare the tree to Marc, and the other thinner tree trunks around it, you can get the idea of just how ancient this tree must be!

Woodland Walk Falls

This waterfall was pretty cool because you can climb the rocks to get right up close to it. Just be careful as the surrounding rocks were really slippery! It wasn’t quite as impressive as Sawblade falls, but it was still really cool!

After all those waterfalls, you just follow one of the woodland walk trails back towards Harper Road where the walk started. There are a few different options, but we followed the upper loop through the trees. By now the sun was really bright so the whole forest was lit up like a star wars movie. We just needed to see some ewoks jump out to complete the look!

Bear time!

Just as we were getting to the end of the walk, there is an area that has been cleared of trees to make room for some power lines. Just as we walked past some bushes I looked up thinking I had seen a large dog. Then I did a double take! It was the first bear I’ve ever seen in the wild! Meet Bearnard. He was about 35-40m away, so although I was reeeeeally excited, we thought it was best to keep walking, rather than stopping to get my large lens and take loads of photos. Bearnard was quite small, so we were slightly worried he might have a mum hiding in the bushes somewhere!

This REALLY made our walk! Thanks for coming out to see us Bearnard!

We found one more waterfall right after meeting Bearnard. I couldn’t find a name for this one, but it was still pretty impressive.

What do you think? Do you fancy this really fun trail? The elevation gain wasn’t too bad (600m), but if you wanted a super easy version of this walk, you could just do the loop around the waterfalls and not climb up to the Coquitlam Lake Viewpoint.

My friend Susan has a fantastic post about how to survive when hiking in Bear Country if you think you might meet a bear like Bearnard and would like to read more.

 Coquitlam Lake View Trail

46 thoughts on “Coquitlam Lake View Trail – waterfalls & a bear!

    1. I feel like it would have been scary if our first bear was fully grown, or coming towards us or something. Bernard was eating flowers and totally uninterested in us, so it was more exciting than scary!

    1. He really was a handsome dude! I have to admit when I first saw him, I thought he was a big dog! I’m glad I looked again!

    1. That was our reaction! I was soooo excited! I was really tempted to stay for longer and take better photos. But I guess its for the best that we didn’t disturb him.

  1. Hoooolly this looks and sounds EPIC!! What an awesome day hike!! There is so much going on between the waterfalls, trees, and view of the lake. I’ll definitely bookmark this for my next trip out west, which I’m hoping comes in the next year for sure. Also, I LOVE finding good books with lists of trails for inspiration 🙂

    1. Oooh you would love the 105 hikes book! The descriptions and maps are all really good, and it tells you about the first nations history of the territories you are walking through. Once we’ve done a few more hikes I think I’ll write a review about it.

        1. You are very welcome Stephen! I am loving it. <3

          (Although I think MEC sold it to me before it was officially on sale! Oops.)

  2. Wow – really cool. I was thinking of Ewoks the entire time I was reading. Looks like the perfect home for them.

    This reminds me of hiking around Yosemite in California. Lots of gorgeous old growth forests and waterfalls there as well.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Lol yaaay! I am glad I am not the only one that thinks of ewoks when I see sunlight shining through trees! 😀

      I would LOVE to go to Yosemite! I hope we will at some point!

    1. Lol not bad at all. In real life it looked like a really frothy cappuccino, so can totally see why you can see sugar!

    1. I know how you feel! I grew up in Cambridgeshire in the UK (it is soooo flat) and lived in London for years (where it was hard to access walks!)

      Kansas must have some nice (if flat) places to explore though!?

    1. Thank you Isabella! He was so uninterested in us that it wasn’t very scary. I am just so glad that we got to see him!

      ehem…he might be a girl. I’m only saying ‘him’ because Bearnard was such a good name!

  3. That’s so great you got to see a bear while hiking! As long as they know you’re there and you don’t seem to pose a threat, you should be fine. Even then, they’re more likely to run off. I still haven’t done much hiking there but I would really like to see Sawblade Falls

    1. Sawblade falls was definitely the prettiest of them, but it wasn’t as epic as your instagram waterfall photos! I think we need to try the Sea to Summit trail to see that!

      1. I’ve seen pictures of Sawblade taken in the winter when it’s been a muddy torrent 🙂 Not so photogenic then! Now is definitely a great time to do the Sea to Summit hike and, of course, who can resist sitting on the patio with a drink admiring the spectacular view up there?

  4. What a fun hike! And, I love the huge stumps, and the way the pines were growing out from the side of the hill with u-shaped trunks. You definitely have an eye for nature, and I love that. Another great post, and I love Bearnard’s name. 🙂

  5. You are going to have to add bear spray to your shopping list!! I love the Sawblade sign- I really appreciate when people get creative with their surroundings, and it must have taken quite some time. Why aren’t all signs that creative??

    1. There was a cool sign on another bike trail (the name of the trail was garbage, and someone had carved a picture of a rubbish bin into a wooden sign. 🙂 )

      I love that kind of thing too!

    1. Yay! I hope you like it as much as we did! 😀
      You can always skip the steep hike up the mountain and just walk around the waterfalls.

    1. That is exactly how I felt!!

      I actually saw another baby bear yesterday too (also in Coquitlam!) I nearly walked right up on him/her so I was only a few meters away! Eep! I turned right around, so didn’t get a good photo, but my heart was beating sooo fast!

  6. Haha, gotta love misleading names! 😛

    Apples are one of my favorite snacks on the trail. I love those views and that fungi that you found looks really cool as well! Glad that the bear wasn’t super close!!

    1. YES! They are the best for being thirst quenching as well as a snack!

      I’m glad you commented on this one. I forgot how excited I was to see my first bear!

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