One of my favourite North Shore trails I’ve done to date is Kennedy Falls. On a typical rainy morning a few months ago, my wife Mary and I decided to start out on this trek as part of our ultra marathon training program. It was a wet and wild trail at the time, but it was a ton of fun!
The trail head starts at the very top of Mountain highway in North Vancouver. There is plenty of parking in the area if you go early enough, but it does get quite busy in the afternoon, with all of the trail runners and mountain bikers using these incredible local trails. This trailhead links into an almost endless webb of trails that traverse the entire North Shore. The first several hundred meters are along an easy trail which eventually links into the Big Cedar Trail. Oncmerged into Big Cedar, it becomes a rugged single track trail that weaves up and down towards the falls.
There are over a dozen small creek/run-off crossings that take some inventive fording to pass, without getting soaking wet during the winter and spring months. The trail itself is technical and heavily wooded; there are many deadfall trees, twists and turns. Crossing through sections of old growth forest with massive cedar trees, the route to the falls is iconic. Near the waterfall you pass a huge cedar tree said to be over 600 years old; definitely a great photo-op!
Closing in on the falls, you can hear the booming water from hundreds of meters away. As you approach, the mist in the air is enough to soak all of your clothes almost completely through. There are some easy and safe areas to climb down and take perfect unobstructed shots of the huge falls. There wasn’t a person in sight, which is always an added bonus given that most of the popular trails around the North Shore are overrun with people and tourists. We sat here and enjoyed ouhomemade trail snacks before saddling up and heading back home.
Once heading back, the traveler will need to pay close attention to the orange placards on the trail to avoid getting lost. With the heavily wooded areas and deadfall trees, it can be easy to get a little mixed up. But what is a trail run without taking a wrong turn at least once or twice?
The 10km round trip loop took us approximately 2.5 hours; a hike would take you approximately 4.5-5 hours. The trail is dog friendly for the most part, but there are a few challenging spots for the four legged friends. Micro-dogs might want to sit this one out! All in all, Kennedy Falls was a success, and one that we will most definitely be running again. Rain or shine, the immense waterfall and monstrous old growth trees seen along the route are worth the trek!