Falling for the Island’s accessible waterfalls

Outdoor blogger lists 17 waterfalls worth a family-friendly walk in the woods on the central east coast of Vancouver Island

Joel Collins cools down under Stocking Creek Falls

A silvery splash, a shimmering roar, or a cascading thunder in white — waterfalls come in many forms.

But few are those who fail to pause and drink in their wonder.

Some, like Jill Collins, will even walk many kilometres for a chance to experience one.

“From a distance they sparkle, are magical and tranquil. Up close waterfalls are deafening, powerful and spectacular,” she writes in her blog On the Beaten Path. “They captivate us, stimulate our senses and are a highlight of many hikes on Vancouver Island.”

Collins, who writes about family recreation opportunities on the Island, recently posted a guide to the best waterfall hikes on its central east coast.

If you are looking for a nice, family-friendly afternoon walk, you may want to start right here.

There are 17 waterfalls included, ranging from Cowichan to Fanny Bay. Most of them are a relatively easy trek for the novice hiker that can be completed within a few hours or less.

Collins’ criteria was pretty simple: include all the waterfalls she could think of that were worth seeing and easily reachable for families in the central Island area.

“I could have kept going but I ran out of energy,” she said with a laugh. “I needed to get this out.”

A resident of the rural Cedar area south of Nanaimo, Collins hasn’t been to every waterfall listed, but felt compelled to include those she hasn’t based on feedback she’s received from fellow hikers.

Her personal favourites are Ammonite Falls in Nanaimo and Stocking Creek Falls between Ladysmith and Chemainus — each for different reasons.

“Ammonite is very popular now; it never used to be as busy. It’s got the location and the wow factor,” she said. “Stocking Creek, it’s so easy to get there but you can get right down to the waterfall. Kids love it.”

Collins is a frequent reader of and contributor to various internet outdoor networks. She’s hasn’t seen a similar list posted anywhere and she is surprised by the amount of attention this one has generated.

“Not that I know of,” she said. “I can’t believe the amount of hits.”

Collins describes the hikes listed as mostly easy to moderate and usually within cell phone range. Wear the appropriate footwear, pack some water and a snack, and you should be fine.

The directions provided by the blog will get you to the right spot, but they aren’t so detailed they will spoil the joy of exploration.

She plans to experience every waterfall on the list and hopes she can inspire others to do the same.

“That’s what it’s all about: inspiring people to get out there and enjoy our natural beauty,” she said. “I’m just someone who is passionate about getting outside. This is my way to show others there is so much right here.”