Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DO go chasing waterfalls ♫ ♫

Niagara Falls water drops 47.5 m

Waterfalls seem to be catching my attention lately with good reason. Spring melt is on which means rivers and creeks are flowing fast creating spectacular waterfalls on Vancouver Island. Here’s one worth checking out: Niagara Falls. I am not talking about the famous one in Ontario. There happens to be two Niagara Falls in Canada and the one I am talking about is located in Goldstream Provincial Park just north of Victoria, BC. The falls are actually quite easy to get to. From Goldstream Park it is a five minute walk along the south bank of Niagara Creek on the Lower Falls trail.  This provides easy access to the base of the falls.
More directions/maps/info at Goldstream Provincial Park

Easy to get to yes but don’t stop your adventure there. Continue on past the falls and hike the Gold Mine trail.  This trail is great for a few reasons.  First it is short, about 2km in length.  Second is it is a loop type trail.  (Park at Goldstream Park, check out waterfall and continue on ending the hike south of Goldstream Park but still close enough to walk back to parking lot.)  Third are the special features along this trail.  Without counting Niagara Falls there are 5 more unique and interesting parts to the Gold Mine trail.

1. A tunnel - Always a hit when exploring with children.  Heck even I love going through tunnels.  As soon as you enter the tunnel you can feel the dampness.  This is immediately followed with echos of loud screams.  Not only is this tunnel fun to travel through it also allows you to cross the busy Trans Canada highway safely.  Playing Frogger in real life not so much fun when you only have one life!

2. The trestle - The E&N train tracks run north and south along Vancouver Island and the Gold Mine trail meets the tracks right where it crosses Niagara Creek.  The trestle towers 85 m above the creek and I will admit to being a bit anxious walking across.  Childhood movies of getting caught on train tracks had me freaked out.

3. Abandoned Gold Mine - It's called the Gold Mine trail for a reason!  It was really neat to come across an abandoned gold mine shaft alongside the trail.  It is what's left over from a brief mid-19th century gold rush on Vancouver Island.  The mine shaft did not go in very far and walking hunched over for only a few moments made me wonder how miners could do this day in and day out.  

4. Geocaching - Most trails offer geocaching now so it is not necessarily a unique feature of the Gold Mine trail.  Still, it is fun to find caches and they are a great motivator for kids.  Tell the kids there is a geocache 200 m up the trail and you are guaranteed to get an extra kilometre out of them. 

5. Beginner splunking - Splunking by definition is exploring wild cave systems.  Although the "splunking" near Niagara Falls are not in actual caves, it is still fun to crawl over and under large boulders to get a feel for what splunking is all about.  Near the base of the falls is the perfect place to give it a shot.  My only advice is: if scared of spiders, enter cautiously!

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