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One of the most beautiful parks on Vancouver Island, Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is truly a sight to behold.
Located near Errington in Arrowsmith Coombs Country, just a short drive from Parksville and Qualicum Beach, Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is known for its natural beauty that establishes it as one of the most awe-inspiring parks on Vancouver Island. Here, visitors can enjoy a range of amenities and experiences, including camping, picnic areas, swimming, hiking, two spectacular waterfalls in the midst of the forest and a small rocky beach at the base of one of the falls.
When river levels are low during the summer, a crystal clear pool at the base of the lower falls turns into one of the best swimming holes in the area. The park is also a phenomenal location to visit during the fall months to view spawning salmon.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park is located approximately 8 kilometres south of the town of Errington, 13 kilometres to the southwest of Parksville, along the Englishman River. To reach the park, take Errington Road off of Highway 4 (Alberni Highway) and travel south. Upon entering the park, you will pass by the campgrounds and will eventually reach a sizable parking lot that accommodates up to 105 vehicles and offers convenient access to the park’s trails and waterfalls.
If you’re looking to connect with the Vancouver Island wilderness on a deeper level, consider setting up a campsite at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park’s campgrounds. The park is home to over 100 vehicle-accessible campsites that are open May through September, 90 of which can be reserved online through BC Parks’ reservation system during select months of the year.
Accompanying the campground is a large picnic area that overlooks the river and with access to the park’s trails, perfect for day visitors looking for a convenient place to refuel, or for campers searching for a more organized dining space not far from their tent or RV.
Once you’ve parked or set up your campsite, the park’s signature waterfalls are only a short walk away. The easy, 1.5 kilometre Englishman River Falls Trail is well maintained and can be followed throughout the park’s grounds, crossing the river via two bridges that allow you to feel the refreshing mist from the cascading waterfalls as you pass overhead. Along your route, admire the park’s diverse ecosystem and dense forest, home to a collection of old-growth and second-growth trees, including Douglas fir, maple, hemlock and cedar.
The Parksville Qualicum Beach region has become an increasingly popular destination for mountain biking, thanks to an impressive selection of regional trails that weave through picturesque parks and countryside. In 2020, BC Parks and Arrowsmith Cycling Club completed a series of mountain biking trails within Englishman River Falls Provincial Park that allow riders of all abilities and skill levels to zip through this wondrous landscape on two wheels. The 2.3 kilometre network of trails serves as an extension of the region’s most popular cycling trail systems, Hammerfest, which is located adjacent to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
Englishman River Falls Provincial Park was established in 1940 as a means to protect the area’s old growth Douglas fir trees — similar to Vancouver Island’s larger MacMillian Provincial Park — as well as the river and waterfalls. According to local legend, the 97-hectare park’s name is derived from the Indigenous peoples’ discovery of a skeleton of an European settler at the base of the falls.
In addition to ample parking and a sprawling picnic area, this lush park offers a variety of amenities to keep park-goers comfortable, be it just for a day trip or a longer camping excursion.
For more outdoor excursions with waterfalls, consider visiting the nearby Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Just a 25-minute drive from Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, this small-yet-breathtaking park features 6 kilometres of trails through old growth forest as well as its own pair of cascading waterfalls. Also nearby is the stunning MacMillan Provincial Park, home to Cathedral Grove and some of Vancouver Island’s oldest and largest trees.
Elsewhere in Arrowsmith Coombs Country, enjoy a swim or on-water excursion at Cameron Lake (and keep your eyes peeled for “Cammie” the cryptid), race go karts at Fast Time Amusements, feast on artisan goods from some of Parksville Qualicum Beach’s local food makers, shop fresh produce at the seasonal Errington Farmers Market, and pay a visit to the Coombs Old Country Market to shop, eat, and admire their trademark rooftop goats. For more up-close animal encounters, visit the nearby North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, which is home to a collection of rescued and rehabilitated animals such as black bears, eagles, owls, turtles and more.
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