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Hike, Waterfall

Where to next on Vancouver Island: Little Qualicum Falls Guide: What to expect at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

•  Easy-Moderate
•  Parksville
Time:
1hr+
Length:
1.5km+

Activity:

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Waterfall icon

Accessibility:

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Little Qualicum Falls an easy stop near Parksville

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is situated on Central Vancouver Island off Highway 4 between Qulicum Beach and Port Alberni. The park spans the Little Qualicum River and stretches across the entire southern shoreline of Cameron Lake, edging up to Macmillan Park. In this post, we will focus on the falls and campground areas.

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Little Qualicum Falls Guide: What to expect at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park Photos:

Little Qualicum Falls loop – it’s great for those who love a bit of adventure but also crave some peaceful time in nature. With shady trails and the calming rush of water from the gorge below, then bookended with waterfalls, it’s really something else.

Offering easy to moderate trails winding by the scenic Qualicum River, your hike can be as leisurely or as invigorating as you choose.

The park features a campground along the river providing forted sites for visitors. Whether you’re keen on relaxing by the water, tossing a line to fish, or exploring the expansive 6 km trail system, the park offers ample opportunities to create lasting memories.

You’ll find clear signage, safe, accessible trails for all ages, and breathtaking viewpoints that make the journey as rewarding as the destination.

Hiking Trails

Your adventure starts on the network of trails spanning around 6 kilometres. The terrain, ranging from easy to moderate, will take you past cascading waterfalls and old-growth to second-growth forest scenes, you will find the most common trail and why most people visit is the waterfall loop.

Exploring Little Qualicum Falls

Waterfall Loop

The can’t-miss hike is a relatively leisurely stroll where hikers can start from the day-use area and take a loop trail to observe both the lower and upper waterfalls. Along this path, a lookout point provides breathtaking views of the river and upper falls.

Expect to spend a minimum of an hour walking the 1.5km waterfall loop but it’s easy to add on time exploring the other forest and river trails.

The trail has some stairs and some gradients, but overall, it’s a fairly easy walking experience. In some spots along the trail, you may find looking down from the cliffs at the river below can be intense, but no worries, as the trails around the Qualicum River are fenced, keeping it safe for all ages.

Amenities

Following the road to the end, you will reach two parking lots and the head of the main trail. This is where you will find a clean, well-maintained day-use area complete with picnic facilities and restrooms with running water and plenty of picnic tables.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park offers diverse experiences amidst stunning natural beauty, from scenic waterfalls to lush forest trails. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a peaceful retreat, this park caters to all visitors, with family-friendly amenities and rich biodiversity to explore. Plan your visit any time of the year, as each season offers a unique experience, and remember to respect the environment and wildlife during your stay.

Tips and Suggestions

Busy location in summer. This BC park is located on one of the most popular summer routes on Vancouver Island, so it will get busy, especially on an afternoon during the weekend.

The park is open all year round, but amenities are turned off during the winter. Flush toilets are available from April 15 to October 15.

The campground is usually full throughout the summer, so book ahead.

Pets must be on a leash at all times. Please be responsible for their behaviour and waste.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best time of year to visit Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park?
The ideal time to visit here is any time of the year. During the summer months, from May to September is peak season, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and the park’s full range of amenities. In winter, the park is day use only with no camping available, and the crowds are a lot smaller, making it easier to access.

Are pets allowed on trails in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park?
Yes, you can bring your furry friends on the trails; this is a busy area and a provincial park, so make sure to keep them on a leash to ensure the safety of wildlife and fellow hikers. Always remember to clean up after your pet.

Can you swim at Little Qualicum Falls? 
Not around the upper and lower falls in the Qualicum River. Swimming is prohibited from 75 meters above the Middle Falls Bridge to the downstream park boundary below the Lower Falls Bridge. There are some river access points towards the campgrounds. If you want to enjoy a swim, head down to the Cameron Lake day-use area, located just 10 minutes west on Highway 4.

When is the Park Open?
Park open all year, no services provided in winter

Can you bike on the trails?
Bicycles must be kept on roadways—no cycling on trails.

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Map of Little Qualicum Falls showing the Waterfall Loop Trail with markers for points of interest such as viewpoints, parking areas, and restrooms, as well as the Upper and Lower Campgrounds, set against a backdrop of roads and forested areas

Getting There

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, located 19km west of Parksville, is a perfect getaway spot. The journey itself is part of the experience, with stunning scenic routes. To get there, you’ll take Highway 4, also known as the Alberni Highway, and follow the signs leading you toward the park entrance.

Nearby Attractions

These river falls are such a great stop on your way to Tofino or a nice trip from Parksville or Qualicum Beach. If you are looking for other ideas in the area, a must-stop is the very popular Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. Located only 10 minutes west on Highway 4.

Other popular stops in the area are to see the goats on the roof in Coombs, or if you are a little more adventurous, try to find the hole in the wall at the entrance to Port Alberni.

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"Beautiful Falls, The trail is very easy and wide. There is a very nice set of stairs and it was not too crowded. Great spot to visit if you are exploring Vancouver Island. There is a Map at the beginning of the trail. very helpful"

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Camping at Little Qualicum Falls

When camping at Little Qualicum Falls, you’re surrounded by towering Douglas fir and cedar trees, providing ample shade for your campsite. You might be lucky to take advantage of one of the first-come, first-served sites, but it’s always smart to check for reservations during peak season.

Vehicle-accessible camping from Mid-April to mid-October with limited facilities and amenities.

Here’s a quick layout of your camping experience:

Campsites: Spacious and private, including picnic table and fire ring

Facilities: Include running water and pit toilets; flush toilets are available in the day-use area and upper campground.

Playground: There is an adventure playground located next to the upper campground

 

A serene campsite at Little Qualicum Falls Park with a dirt path leading through a verdant forest and a wooden picnic table to the side, inviting outdoor dining amidst tall, green trees.

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Helpfull Links

BC ParksLittle Qualicum Falls Park

CampgroundReservations for Little Qualicum Falls

DirectionsGoogle Maps

Hiking MapAll Trails GPS

WaterfallsVancouver Island Waterfalls

Gear Tips For Vancouver Island

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When you’re gearing up for an outdoor adventure on Vancouver Island, the key is to dress in layers, no matter the season. The island’s weather can throw curveballs, with conditions varying significantly from the sheltered forests to the breezy coastlines.

For those cool winter escapades, your go-to should include quality rain gear, topped off with a cozy beanie or toque, and a pair of light gloves to keep the chill at bay.

Summer explorers, don’t be fooled by the warmer temps; that same waterproof shell that kept you dry in the winter will be your best friend against the cool ocean breezes.

Remember, the right clothing and gear can make or break your outdoor experience on Vancouver Island, ensuring you enjoy every moment, come rain or shine.

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FAQ:

What’s the best time of year to visit Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park?
The ideal time to visit here is any time of the year. During the summer months, from May to September is peak season, you’ll enjoy pleasant weather and the park’s full range of amenities. In winter, the park is day use only with no camping available, and the crowds are a lot smaller, making it easier to access.

Are pets allowed on trails in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park?
Yes, you can bring your furry friends on the trails; this is a busy area and a provincial park, so make sure to keep them on a leash to ensure the safety of wildlife and fellow hikers. Always remember to clean up after your pet.

Can you swim at Little Qualicum Falls? 
Not around the upper and lower falls in the Qualicum River. Swimming is prohibited from 75 meters above the Middle Falls Bridge to the downstream park boundary below the Lower Falls Bridge. There are some river access points towards the campgrounds. If you want to enjoy a swim, head down to the Cameron Lake day-use area, located just 10 minutes west on Highway 4.

When is the Park Open?
Park open all year, no services provided in winter

Can you bike on the trails?
Bicycles must be kept on roadways—no cycling on trails.

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Modified: March 19, 2024
Last Visit: July 14, 2022
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Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

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Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey! Click here for the tides in your area. 

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