Travel Blog

8 May

Got Mud? Hiking the Big Cedar Trail to Kennedy Falls, North Vancouver

Kennedy Falls Flickr Colin Knowles

Kennedy Falls Photo: Flickr, Colin Knowles

Mount Fromme, a mecca for local mountain bikers is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the North Shore, but don’t be fooled by the men and women riding the trails.  Day hikers are also welcome in the area and the Big Cedar trail to Kennedy Falls is a must see.  Who can resist a 600+ year old red cedar, cascading waterfalls, boulders, deadfall and creek crossings?  I know I can’t!

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Be prepared for mud!  Photo: Rob Weiss

The hike to Kennedy Falls is approximately 10 km long and in terms of mountain trails it is relatively flat.  As an added bonus, due to the low elevation of the trail, it generally remains snow free for the majority of the year, ideal for spring adventures.  Of course, with spring rain, comes MUD.  Be prepared to get dirty.  The route is quite rugged and visitors need to be willing to climb over and under fallen trees, negotiate slippery creek crossings and scramble up steeper sections.

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Shared use Mountain Bike Trail Photo: Rob Weiss

Big Cedar trail begins near the parking lot at the north end of Old Mountain Highway in North Vancouver. Watch for mountain bikers and trail runners as the initial section of the trail is shared use.  Generally, I found the trail to be well marked and well maintained.  However, there are a few sections where the trail markers are non-existent.  Be aware of your surroundings and direction of travel.

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Well maintained boardwalk Photo: Rob Weiss

Last weekend, as I slogged through the mud, I noticed notches in the giant tree stumps, scars of heavy logging during the early 1900’s. I marvelled at the strength and stamina those early loggers must have had.  This would not be easy terrain to log, especially without modern equipment and clothing.  I muttered a silent thank you for Gortex and fleece.  Continuing along the trail, lost in thought, I rounded the bend and came to a complete standstill.  I had arrived at Big Cedar.  To say it took my breath away would be an understatement.  You must see this marvel of nature to believe it.  Rumoured to be over 600 years old this majestic giant towers over the second growth forest.  It seemed fitting to stop and savour the moment.

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Moss covered trees Photo: Rob Weiss

Tearing myself away from Big Cedar, I continued up the trail towards Kennedy Falls.  The light in the forest was constantly changing, highlighting the green mosses and ferns.  At that moment, I heard the sound of rushing water and knew the falls were close.  As I neared the waterfall, I could feel the temperature drop and mist on my face.  Spectacular!  Now does anyone have a clean pair of socks I could borrow?

Getting There:

The trail head is located at the north end of Old Mountain Highway, in North Vancouver.  A new, expanded parking lot opened in 2015.  Go early, as the parking lot fills quickly.

Be Wilderness Safe:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to say be prepared!  Weather and conditions can and will change rapidly on the North Shore.  New to hiking and not sure how to prepare?  Check out this guide to staying safe developed by the District of North Vancouver.

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