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Dougan Falls: A Hidden Gem in Nature

You’re looking for an adventure this weekend. Something off the beaten path that gets you outdoors and into nature. Somewhere you can breathe in fresh air, hear the rush of water, and soak in those forest green vibes. Well, have I got the hidden gem for you – Dougan Falls. Nestled away in an old growth forest, this waterfall and swimming hole is the perfect spot to spend a summer’s day. The best part? Hardly anyone knows about it, so you can have its secluded serenity all to yourself. Just a quick drive from the city and you’ll be transported to a peaceful oasis. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to experience Dougan Falls’ natural beauty and leave your worries behind.

Exploring the Beauty of Dougan Falls

The hike to Dougan Falls is a short one, only about a mile round trip, but filled with scenic rewards along the way. As you walk along the trail, massive Douglas fir and western redcedar trees tower above, providing shade on hot summer days. Keep an eye out for wildlife like squirrels, chipmunks and various bird species flitting through the branches.

The Trail

The trail starts off wide and gradual, making it suitable for hikers of all skill levels. After about a half mile, you’ll start to hear the rushing of water in the distance – the first sign you’re getting close to the falls. The last section of the trail does get a bit steeper with some uneven terrain, so tread carefully. Once you emerge from the forest, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful cascade of Dougan Falls.

Hiking to Dougan Falls: The Best Trails and Viewpoints

The waterfall is located within Golden Ears Provincial Park, about an hour east of Vancouver. The trailhead to Dougan Falls starts from the West Canyon parking lot, an easy 3 km hike that winds through old-growth forest. During spring, the falls are at their most powerful, fed by melting snow from the mountains above.

Lower Trail

The easiest route is the lower trail, a wide gravel path that follows the canyon floor. This family-friendly trail passes massive Douglas firs and cedars, with a few shorter footbridges that cross small streams. After 1.5 km, you’ll emerge at the base of the falls, a thundering 20-meter drop into a crystal-clear pool. There are large boulders perfect for a picnic and even swimming in the summer.

Upper Trail

For a bird’s-eye view of the falls, take the upper trail. This path ascends wooden stairs and winds up the canyon wall, hugging the cliff face. A few lookouts along the way provide panoramic vistas of the forest and river below. The upper trail culminates at a viewing platform directly across from the falls, the best spot for photos. The platform is partially enclosed by metal railings, but still vertigo-inducing, so use caution.

Additional Viewpoints

Don’t stop exploring after visiting the falls. Two other viewpoints along the upper trail offer unique perspectives. About 10 minutes past the falls, you’ll reach the Suspension Bridge, a bouncy walkway that spans the canyon. For the ultimate view, continue another 15 minutes to Canyon Viewpoint, with sweeping 360° views of the river valley and surrounding mountains.

Whether you choose the leisurely lower trail or venture up to the suspenseful viewpoints above, Dougan Falls is a rewarding destination for nature lovers of all abilities. The trails are open year-round, so you can experience the falls in every season. Just don’t forget your camera – this secluded slice of paradise is too stunning to miss capturing.

Dougan Falls FAQs: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting

How do I get there?

Dougan Falls is located within Wells Gray Provincial Park, about a 30 minute drive from Clearwater, BC. The gravel access road to the falls is narrow but well-maintained. Most vehicles can make it to the parking lot, but RVs or trailers are not recommended. The hike from the lot to the base of the falls is only about 15 minutes, but be prepared for some short, steep sections.

Is there an admission fee?

Access to Dougan Falls within Wells Gray Provincial Park is free. There are no entrance fees for the park or hike. The only costs are for any gear or supplies you need.

Are the falls wheelchair accessible?

Unfortunately, the trail to Dougan Falls is not wheelchair friendly. There are sections with rocks, roots, and short steep climbs that would be difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. The viewing platforms at the base of the falls also have stairs. If mobility is an issue, the best views can be seen from the parking lot, about a 5 minute walk from the trail start.

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