Frozen Waterfalls near Vancouver – Norvan Falls

Frozen Waterfalls near Vancouver – Norvan Falls

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

Distance: 14-17km*
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.

Mountain views

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!?

Beautiful Forest

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.)

Frost Heaving

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.

Hike to Norvan Falls in the snow through Lynn Headwaters Regional Park - Great snowy hike near Vancouver, Canada Frozen Norvan Falls looks amazing covered in ice and snow. A great adventure near Vancouver, Canada Frozen Norvan Falls is gorgeous in the snow - Hikes near Vancouver, Canada

52 thoughts on “Frozen Waterfalls near Vancouver – Norvan Falls

    1. Oooh it would be so fun (and scary) to give that a go!! Let me know if you have a post about it, I’d love to give it a read. 🙂

  1. It’s gorgeous. I’m more of a fair weather hiker, but I think I’d make this trek. Doesn’t look too difficult.

    Thanks for sharing this frozen winter wonderland escape. It’s always fun to see you photos.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. It’s great when hikes are this east aaaand have such good views! I guess it could be tougher with a thicker layer of snow, but we don’t often get big dumps at low elevation here.

      I am really glad you liked it, and I hope you’re well Patricia!

      1. Actually, right now we’re living in a winter wonderland of mostly ice so I can take pictures like yours through the windows of my house. I’m not a lover of the cold. It’s pretty though.

        We’re doing okay, thanks for asking. The southern United States is not equipped to handle these freezing temperatures and snow and ice accumulations so it’s been an interesting week.

        Take care and thanks for passing along your contact information. I’m sure I’ll be in touch in the future, as I love your photos.

        Patricia

  2. I was just at a spectacular frozen waterfall this week and I thought I need more of these. So your photos of this waterfall are just the thing. I’m a bit of a daredevil but the log of doom looked pretty scary to me too.

    1. Yeah, I think Marc was a bit miffed that I wanted to attempt it. Last time I bum-shuffled over, but it was a bit too snow-covered fir that.

      I think it is colder near you, so I guess you get more frozen waterfall possibilities. We hardly ever get them near Vancouver!

  3. What a gorgeous dusting of snow and the ice heaving looks so cool. You know I love a good frozen waterfall so this is totally for me!

    1. Thanks lovely! I feel like the freezing weather you get in Minnesota has even better ones! I need to visit you in the winter!!

  4. Ooooh, I love frozen waterfalls too! I’m sure I would have stayed on the safe side of the log, though. Snowy walks in the woods are the best!

  5. Dear Pheen, last time you were on this log of doom, I said you were never to do such again and now here you are doing it at a trickier time. I am cross and shocked. But very glad that Marc had more sense. Araceli will be pleased that her child has more sense than mine. This is slightly worse than getting near bears. Great pictures though. I thought it was all in black and white until I saw the man in the blue jacket. Love from very worried Lis

  6. I have only seen one frozen waterfall in my life and it was a sight to behold. Love your experience and pictures in this blog!

  7. This is so beautiful! I would love to see this someday. I have always lived in warm states where we don’t really get snow/ice.

  8. Is there anything more spectacular than a frozen waterfall? You guys have a lot more snow than we do! That scenery is unbelievable beautiful. Winter in Canada can be harsh but it’s worth braving the outdoors for!

    1. Yaaay Sarah! I flipping love your photos of the ones near Niagara falls too! Our snow only lasted about 3 days, so I still don’t think we’re on the level of your side of Canada!

  9. What a great looking hike. I still haven’t really done any winter hiking so it’s good to know this could be done with just hiking shoes. I also have my poles but will have to look into microspikes. The only part you lost me on was the log of doom, I’d be more likely to shuffle along on my bum than attempt to walk across it, as clumsy as I know I am

    1. If you do decide to get some spikes, they are pretty amazing. We actually use them more than our snowshoes. They are also really really helpful to have in your bag during the shoulder season and even in the summer when you go into the alpine.

  10. Norvan falls frozen over looks beautiful, just like the snowy landscape on your hike. No way I would have crossed that log, since I would have managed to fall of it.

    1. Thanks Cosette! To be honest, I was pretty worried (but I would probably do it again as I loved getting up close to the falls, even if the log was scary…)

  11. What an amazing guide full of very helpful information. I am with you, I love all the waterfalls too – and the frozen ones looks so magical (and cold!) – Well, I live in Florida, sun 365 days per year…haha…so I admire even more when I see ice, cold, snow and frozen waterfalls. Amazing!

  12. Frozen waterfalls always look so magical! I’d love to see one in person one day! Norvan Falls looks spectacular! What an incredible sight! Thanks for the great guide!

  13. It is incredible how the waterfalls look frozen. Such a beautiful sight! I like the pictures where a person is seen walking among the huge trees. I can get a sense of the magnitude of the forest! The closeup of ice crystals is cool too.

    1. Yeah, you can’t really tell just how amazing those trees are until you see how teeny we are next to them! Thanks for the lovely comment Ruth.

  14. These waterfalls are beautiful in ice! The log of doom looked intense, but it sounded like you crossed it just fine. And I didn’t realize frost heaving was thing! I’ll have to keep a look out for this in the future.

    1. We’ve seen it a couple of times, but I didn’t know what caused it until I asked on twitter and started googing. It sent me down a rabbit hole about cool ice formations related to this – One of them is pingos (which are large bumps in the ground caused by a similar phenomenon!)

    1. You have some pretty epic ones near you though too! I really want to snowshoe to see Alexander Falls and Rainbow Falls while they are frozen…

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