Frozen Norvan Falls is simply stunning! I love icy waterfalls. I mean, I love all waterfalls, but there is something extra special about the way ice takes over a cliff face when waterfalls freeze. Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains get plenty of snow at the higher elevations, but it doesn’t often freeze close to the city. So when it does get chilly enough for snow within Van City, I am keen to get outside to see the ice-covered scenery.
The hike out to Norvan Falls is a fabulous dog-friendly hike through pretty forest. It’s also super close to Vancouver (around 30mins drive from central Vancouver, or an hour on public transit.) Norvan Falls is lovely even when it’s not frozen. You can see my previous (rainy day) hike to Norvan Falls here.
Norvan Falls in the snow – the basics
The map above is the route we took, including the high route (17km). You can make this shorter and easier by starting from Lynn Valley Road and staying low on the trail.
Elevation Gain: 360-477m (depending on the route you take)
High Point: 465m
Time: 4-5 hours
What to bring:
As always the 10 essentials. We brought microspikes.
Facilities: There are toilets and water by the trailhead
Dogs: Yes! This is a fantastic area for doggos, we met sooo many happy dogs.
How hard is it? Intermediate. The trail is easy to follow and not difficult, but it is a long if you’re not used to hiking, especially in the snow. The high path has fewer hikers if you prefer the quiet.
Norvan Falls Getting Started
We normally start at the Rice Lake parking lot, but you can cut off a couple of kilometers by starting at the car park at the end of Lynn Valley road. We follow the Lynn Headwaters Connector trail and then continue onto the Lower Lynn Loop trail alongside Lynn Creek.
Do you need snowshoes
On some occasions if there has been lots of heavy snow you might need snowshoes on this trail. However there were so many people out enjoying the snow, the path was well packed down. We brought our snowshoes, but left them behind when we saw how solid the trail was.
There were plenty of people on the trail with just walking boots. It was super slippery on the wooden boardwalks and ice-patches close to the waterfalls. I was glad to have microspikes.
Most of the walk is through the snow-sprinkled forest. However there are a couple of places where the woodlands open up and you can see some of the surrounding mountains. This is Mount Fromme, Grouse Mountain and the end of Goat Ridge from Lynn Creek. Nice eh!?
The route to Norvan Falls is incredible in the snow. I always love this hike, but it was amazing to see how different it looks covered with snowflakes.
Frozen Norvan Falls
It turns out I am not the only one who loved frozen waterfalls. There were quite a few other happy hikers enjoying the pretty views at the same time as us. I guess everyone thinks this kind of adventure is worth getting chilly feet!
p.s. I took this photo to show there were plenty of people, but later I saw the bloke in blue made a video of his walk. (click to watch that)
The log of doom
There is a log near the base of Norvan Falls that allows you to cross Norvan Creek to get up close to the frozen waterfall. It was covered in snow, and feels quite high above the freezing water. I shuffled over this slowly as I wanted to see the ice up close. Marc didn’t fancy it; So he stayed on the sensible side. I have to admit, it was pretty scary to cross that log! I had microspikes for extra grip and used my hiking poles to help keep my balance…
Norvan Falls covered in ice
Isn’t this stunning!? Norvan Falls was about half frozen, so there was still plenty of water gushing over the icicles. I managed to get right up close to the huge log right below the waterfall. If you click to zoom in, you might be able to see me in the first photo below. I may have been making a “squeee” sound.
This is looking up, right below the frozen Norvan Falls.
It’s also pretty cool (heh!) the way the cliff opposite the main waterfall gets splashed so much that it is also covered in picturesque ice formations.
This is the view backwards looking down from Norvan Falls. Marc is one of those three figures drinking coffee on the safe side of the log of doom.
Return via the high part of Lynn Loop
Normally we tend to hike along the upper part of the Lynn Loop on our way to Norvan Falls, then take it easy and stay low on the return. This time we switched it up and came back along the higher path. I was surprised to find this is a little easier. You can see from the elevation graph on the map at the top of this post; It’s a gradual incline past gorgeous tall trees. There are a couple of places with steps, but it’s much easier than the steep stairs I am used to from the other direction! (See Lynn Loop post for more info about that hike.)
We found some really cool ice crystals along the edge of the trail. I had no idea what caused these, but twitter friends let me know that it is called frost heave. It creates needle-like ice crystals that seem to grow out of the soil at the edge of the path.
I hope you like the look of our mini ice adventure! Lynn Headwaters Regional Park is always a fun place to explore, so it was really cool to see how it looked under a blanket of snow. Getting up close to a frozen Norvan Falls was the icing on the cake of a very fun day.
Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? Do you love them as much as I do? If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, it seems like most of us had some chilly weather over the last week – did you get outside to have fun in the snow?
Please click on the pins below if you’d like to save this adventure for later.