Bonnell Creek Falls is a glorious little hike located in Nanoose Bay.
To access this hidden gem, however, you need a bit of bravery and some sturdy legs.
While most hikes on Vancouver Island offer glorious scenery before even getting to the destination, this particular trail is a bit disappointing in that regard. However, the end result is most definitely worth it.
The first 0.8 km has you walking on a dusty logging road. Then you veer right towards a forested area just as the sound of a distant waterfall pricks your ears. From there you make the descent down a steep roped trail to your final destination.
But oh that final landing spot is grand!
After your legs stop wobbling and you catch your breath, what awaits you at the bottom is a spectacular sight.
You are greeted by a series of 3 beautiful falls, with the last one being a double waterfall.
- Turn off the main highway (Hwy 19) onto Summerset Road (just passed the Petro Can and the Arlington Pub if you are heading south towards Nanaimo).
- Summerset Road turns into Sea Blush Drive
- Turn right onto Sundew Place
- Park somewhere on that road and walk through the gate
- Walk along the logging road for approximately 0.8 km
- On your right-hand side, you will see a track leading into a forested area (at the time of our hike there was pink flagging tape hanging in the trees).
- Depending on the time of year and strength of the falls, you should be able to hear them
- Follow this track to the forested area where you will find a rope leading down a steep trail
- The descent down is roped the entire way, and there are also some great natural ‘handles’ to hold onto that the tree roots provide.
- Once at the bottom of this first section you will be able to view all three falls. There’s also a rope swing that (crazy!) people use to propel themselves into the second pool of water.
- If you want a better view of the lowest falls (and the biggest) you will need to descend down another VERY steep roped trail.
- (My heart couldn’t take this last part of the trail, so I sent my brave husband down instead to take a few pictures of the double waterfall. He’s in fairly decent shape, and the climb back up this last section was quite difficult for him. So please be careful!)
Helpful Tip: While you do have to climb back up the same roped trail to get back, for some reason we found this to be an easier feat than the climb down. Use the ropes as well as the tree roots to help boost you back up.
What to Bring and What Not to Bring
- To each their own, but I don’t recommend bringing your dog on this trail
- While I’m sure some kids can manage this steep descent, we were glad we decided to go this one alone
- Gloves are extremely helpful for the ropes
- Sturdy shoes are a must
- Your camera!
Length of Trail:
The total length is approximately 2 km.
To make your hike a tad longer, once you are back on the main logging road, turn right and keep going. We followed the road until just before the posted 1 km sign and then turned right towards the forest. Following that trail, we came to another beautiful little section of Bonnell Creek.
Have you been to Bonnell Creek Falls in Nanoose Bay? Let us know in the comments below.
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Other Great Hikes in the Area
For more hidden water falls in the area, check out this article:
For more hidden gems in the surrounding areas, make sure to read:
For more natural wonders in and around the Nanoose Bay area, read: