Kennedy Falls Trail
The Kennedy Falls Trail is a rugged hike through the dense West Coast rainforest of Vancouver’s North Shore. Highlights along the trail include scenic views of the rushing waters of Kennedy Falls, as well as the opportunity to meet the Big Red Cedar, a giant 600-year-old tree that spans 4 m.
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Route Description for Kennedy Falls Trail
A rugged 12.1 km out-and-back located in the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, the Kennedy Falls Trail crosses a stretch of terrain that is characterized by root-covered paths, slick creek crossing, muddy hills, and fallen trees that require hikers to climb either under or over to continue along the trail. Keep a keen eye out for trail markers, as these sometimes get lost in the deadfall of trees, and hikers often lose their way as a result. This has led to search and rescue having to respond to a high volume of calls in the area, but as long as you stick to the trail, this won’t be an issue.
The Kennedy Falls Trail makes up for its rough and rugged nature with gorgeous views of its namesake waterfall and the amazing opportunity to visit Big Cedar Tree. This mammoth 600+ year-old cedar tree that spans 4 m is only one of a few that have managed to escape the operations of the logging industry.
To reach the Kennedy Falls trailhead, travel north from the Mount Fromme parking lot, passing by the water towers on your left before arriving at a metal gate and sign post. Immediately after the gate, head right to drop down to the forest and connect with the hiking trail that runs parallel to the Old Grouse Mountain Highway.
Follow this trail north as it skirts alongside the road for 500 m before reaching a junction in the trail. Go straight, and within 15 m, you reach another junction, at which you will go right to continue on the Big Cedar Trail. Continue on for a few hundred meters, and you will reach the last real junction along the route, making the rest of the way easy to navigate, as long as fallen trees haven’t taken out any trail markers.
Keep right at the junction for Kirkford Trail (sometimes called Crinkum Crankum) and cross over the small creek. This type of crossing will be a common fixture throughout the rest of the hike, and keeping your feet dry might be a difficult task if you are attempting the hike in wetter seasons.
Continue on the trail as it meanders through the forest and crosses over streams for the next 3.5 km. After this stretch, you will round a corner in the trail and immediately be struck by the gargantuan size of the Big Cedar Tree standing tall in front of you. Be careful not to get too close, as the soil around the tree is prone to eroding and could damage the overall health of the tree, but feel free to sit down under the shadow of this ancient giant to enjoy a snack before heading back on the trail to Kennedy Falls.
Pick the trail back up to the northwest of the Big Cedar Tree and follow on as it begins to climb uphill. This section of the hike will feel much like the first stretch, as you continue on for 1.5 km through the forest and over a few stream crossings. Look out for the stumps that lay as the only remnants of the giant trees that called this forest home prior to the widespread logging operations in this area during previous centuries.
As you descend along the trail, you will begin to hear the rushing water of Kennedy Falls. Upon rounding the bend in the trail, pick a spot to sit near the serene waterfall and enjoy a snack. To make your way back on the return journey, head back along the same trail, taking one last look at the Big Cedar Tree, before tracing your footsteps to the Mount Fromme parking lot.
Hiking Trail Highlights
Big Cedar Tree
This 4 m wide ancient beauty is the first highlight of this hike. At over 600 years-old, this tree escaped centuries of large-scale forestry operations and stands proud as one of the largest trees in the Vancouver area. Feel free to grab a photo with the Big Cedar Tree, but be careful not to get too close, as eroding soil at its base can damage the tree’s health.
The Kennedy Falls are the second highlight along this route, and although you’ll likely get wet and muddy on the trek there, the serene beauty of the falls is well worth it. It is possible to catch a glimpse of the upper portion of the falls, but it requires a bit of a scramble up the loose rock directly beside and must be undertaken with extreme caution.
Insider Hints for Kennedy Falls Trail
- Make sure you have waterproof footwear, as this hike has a lot of mountain stream crossings.
- While the Big Cedar Tree is beautiful, try not to get too close, as eroding soil at its base can damage the tree’s health.
- Keep an eye out for trail makers, as they can get lost in the deadfall of trees.
Getting to the Kennedy Falls Trail Trailhead
To get to the Mount Fromme parking lot from Vancouver, take the Trans Canada Highway/BC-1 West and cross the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. Take the exit on the right toward Mountain Highway and follow it for 5.0 km. The parking area will be on your right.
Kennedy Falls Trail Elevation Graph
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Kennedy Falls Trail Reviews
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