McDonald Falls is an easy to reach waterfall just off Lost Creek Forest Service Road near Mission, BC (Canada). It is less than 4km north of the far more famous Cascade Falls which is likely to have crowds of visitors. This waterfall, although just as impressive, is much quieter. The waterfall lies within Davis Lake Provincial Park, but it is not really developed. If you like manicured trails and good facilities this is not the best option, but it is lovely for a mini adventure.
It is best to visit this waterfall in spring when the waters of Murdo Creek swell from snowmelt; Or in winter when it freezes and looks like a frozen wonderland.
McDonald Falls (and Davis Lake) Map
This shows the way down to Davis Lake (or see my strava track) McDonald Falls has several drops lining the route down.
McDonald Falls – the basics
Distance: 1km-1.5km (if you go down to the lake)
Elevation Gain: 80m
Time: 30 mins
What to bring:
You don’t need much – just make sure you have grippy shoes as it can be slippery.
Facilities: Nothing at all. If you need the loo, visit Cascade Falls 4km south.
Dogs: Dog friendly. Keep pups leashed if they like to get close to the edge of cliffs.
How hard is it? Easy-ish. You get the first waterfall view after about 20m, so it isn’t really a hike. It is very steep if you go the whole way down to the lake. It is less child-friendly than the nearby Cascade Falls, due to the lack of clear path and steep drop-offs.
McDonald Falls – getting started
Start at the Davis Lake trailhead on Lost Creek FSR to the north of Mission. This is a sort-of backwards hike. You head downhill to begin with and see the waterfall near the start of the trail. Davis Lake is the lowest point, then you hike back up the hill to return.
McDonald Falls details
Tallest Drop: 12m
Waterfall Type: Tiered Horsetails
(horsetail waterfalls keep contact with the bedrock behind them, the tiers refer to the 4 separate drops.)
This is such a beautiful spot. The water cascades down the rocks in a series of pools and small waterfalls. The first 3 drops are 3-5m, with the lowest tier plunging 12m.
We visited when it was around 2℃, but it must have been colder overnight so parts of the waterfall were partly frozen, with cloud-like pillars of ice and sparkling icicle decorations around each area where water drips.
You can climb up close to the falls, but if you do so, be very careful as the rocks can be slippery and icy too. It looked like some of the pools would be lovely to swim in in you visit in the summer when the water is low.
The most impressive drop was last, so you can peek over the top of the waterfall from above, and then hike down through the forest to see it from below.
We found that all the streams close to the lake were also frozen over with pretty ice patterns.
Once we made it down to Davis Lake, even the grasses surrounding the lake were encased in ice. I found puddles that had partly evaporated, leaving contour-lines in the ice. Isn’t it cool?
From the bottom of McDonald Falls, it is just a hop, a skip and a jump to Davis Lake. We visited on a chilly, grey day and it was still beautiful! This must be a gorgeous location to swim in the summertime!
Once you’ve finished at the lake, retrace your steps back up to the trailhead. This is a pretty sweet area to explore with very little effort. And as McDonald Falls is less famous than the nearby Cascade Falls, there is a chance you’ll get it all to yourself.
If you’re looking for other fantastic waterfalls near Mission, there are lots more!
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