A Guide to Little Qualicum Falls

chinmay Places to Visit Lifestyle
16 Min Read
Photo by Lukas Tennie on Unsplash

Nature is something that still amazes us daily. However, the sad reality is that most of us are too indulged in our work and city life, that we hardly ever get to interact with nature.

How about a trip to a park which has amazing waterfalls and where you can swim, fish and even camp?

Well then, look no further than Little Qualicum Falls. Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is a very famous tourist spot on Vancouver Island.

It is known for its beauty and is one of the many beautiful parks in central Vancouver Island. Moreover, Qualicum Beach and Parksville are both close to the park.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

Little Qualicum Falls provincial park is a must-visit park that has amazing waterfalls amid a forest. There are two major water bodies that it is home The Little Qualicum river and Cameron Lake.

Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park
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The Qualicum River is on both sides of the park whereas the complete southern shore of Cameron lake is incorporated into the Qualicum Falls Provincial park.

The Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park was established in the year 1940 to help protect the environment and preserve the forest, which is mainly composed of Douglas Fir trees.

The Little Qualicum River cuts its way through a rocky canyon and has several falls that cascade down it. The result thus formed is a waterfall cascade which is sure to make you wonder about it.

In this park, in a stunning forest setting, the waterfalls fall down a steep gorge, which is surrounded by high mountain peaks.

While exploring the Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, you might also be interested in the Perfect 101 guide to Kootenay National Park.

1. Location of the Park

The location of the Qualicum falls provincial park is just off Highway 4. This is where Cameron Lake splits into multiple waterfalls into the Little Qualicum River.

On Highway 4, 19 kilometers west of Parksville, in the middle of Vancouver Island, is the campground and campsite area of Little Qualicum Falls.

On Highway 4, 23 kilometers to the west of Parksville is the campsite area for Cameron Lake. On Highway 4, 25 kilometers to the west of Parksville is the Beaufort camp area.

Port Alberni, Coombs, Parksville, and Qualicum are all nearby communities.

2. Operating Days and Hours

The Little Qualicum falls provincial park is open to the public from April 14 to October 14. The park may be open on other days but might not have water, security, and electricity access.

The BC Parks reservations system must be used for all campsite reservations. All campsites operate on a first-come, first-served basis when reservations are not available.

The park is generally open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

The camping ground is closed during the winter, and the park is only open for use during the day hours.

3. Activities to do in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

The Little Qualicum falls park has a lot to offer to its visitors. You can hike, cycle, swim, and even canoe at the park.

1. Camping 

Photo by Scott Goodwill on Unsplash

The camping ground in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park is a convenient starting point for other camping spots.

One usually ends up visiting Cameron Lake and other parks like MacMillan Park also when they come to Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park.

The Provincial park is home to a variety of riverside campsites that are cool and shady, some of which are accessible by cars and other vehicles.

These campsites are usually available for three-season camping. The park also usually provides picnic facilities.

The park offers top-class hygiene with both flush toilets and pit toilets, which are maintained well and kept clean.

The park’s playground and picnic areas are a great hit with children and help attract more and more families.

2. Campfires

Image by Azalia From UnlimPhotos

You can also have a campfire at the Little Qualicum falls provincial park. However, there are some limitations to the use of campfires.

This is done to reduce the risk of a forest fire in case anything goes wrong.

While fires are permitted, visitors are encouraged to use stoves rather than make fires in order to help conserve the environment.

At each campsite, there are fire pits and there is a designated Park Operator who can be contacted if you want to purchase firewood.

It is advised that one refrain from buying or getting firewood from the surrounding vicinity of your campsite.

This is done to preserve the forest ground cover and vegetation. Violation of this is a violation of the Park Act that can result in a ticket.

In addition to providing organic matter to the soil, dead wood is an essential component of numerous plants’ and animals’ habitats.

The guests are requested to keep small campfires. This is because, if you keep your campfire small, you can save money on firewood and improve the air quality.

You can also bring a portable gas stove if you want to cook without any hiccups.

Camping Fees

For Little Qualicum falls, the front country camping fee is 23 dollars per party per night. The requirements for a camping party are as follows:

  • Size of the party for a vehicle that can access the campsite: one to four people who are at least 16 years old.
  • The camping group must have at least one person over 16 years old. One adult per party is a must.
  • There can only be a maximum of eight people, including children under the age of 15.
  • Unless otherwise authorized by the respected authorities, camping parties are limited to one party per site.
Discounts and Fee Exemptions
(a) Volunteers

Front country camping fees are waived for volunteers who sign a volunteer agreement and have a park officer’s prior approval of a volunteer project or service.

The Little Qualicum Falls provincial park will not waive these fees if the volunteer is eligible for reimbursement for camping expenses from a volunteer organization, university, or any other government program.

(b) Senior Citizens

For residents of British Columbia who are 65 years of age or older, front-country camping fees can be discounted.

There are no discounts for seniors during the peak season, which runs from June 15 to Labor Day (during the winter season).

These discounted costs apply if at least one British Columbia is residing senior in the camping group and if all other adults in the group (up to a maximum of four), are either a senior or the senior’s spouse or an equivalent, such as a partner.

Children and grandchildren under the age of 16 are also welcome, as long as the camping party does not include more than eight people.

The discounted rate for senior citizens is usually half of the normal rate. So, when the rate is usually around 30 dollars, the discounted rate for senior citizens will come around to 15 dollars.

3. Hiking

The Little Qualicum park has six kilometers of walking trails. These trails wind their way along the Little Qualicum River through the old-growth and second-growth forests from the campground and the day-use area for Little Qualicum Falls.

Hikers can depart from the day-use area and follow a loop trail to the lower and upper waterfalls. You can get a great view of the river and upper falls from a lookout point along this trail.

There are sections of gravel and stairs made of wood on the trail. The park’s hiking trails are all well-maintained and well-defined and are a beautiful walking path. It is safe and easy for even a beginner who is into hiking.

The hike is usually a distance of only 2 kilometers and the highest point on the trek is 140 m. It is usually a one-hour hike with very few complications.

4. Swimming

Visitors have the option to swim at the park. However, it must be noted that there are no lifeguards on duty available at the park. Hence, visitors are advised to indulge in lake swimming only if they are good swimmers.

Swimming is prohibited 75 meters above the Middle Falls Bridge to the park boundary below the Lower Falls Bridge. During times of high water, swimming may not be permitted in some of the park’s other areas.

5. Fishing

Visitors can also fish at Cameron Lake when they visit the magnificent park. However, it is required that anyone who fishes in British Columbia has a fishing license.

Visitors are usually attracted by the fact that Cameron lake is one of the only places to have brown trout.

6. Enjoy with your Pets

Pets are allowed at the Little Qualicum falls provincial park. However, they are required to be on a leash at all times and the owners are required to clean up after their pets.

4. Amenities in the Park

1. Drinking Water Amenities

The guests at the park have access to drinking water unless they come during the off-season. The Little Qualicum Falls day-use area and the campground both have cold water taps. During the off-season, the taps are turned off.

At the day-use areas of Cameron Lake and Beaufort, there is no water to drink. Hence, it is advised to bring a couple of bottles of water to drink if there is a shortage.

However, please make sure not to bring plastic bottles that you plan to dispose of, as they are not friendly to the environment.

2. Toilets

As mentioned before, the Little Qualicum falls provincial park has both pit and flush toilets.

At all day-use areas, along the trails, and in the campground, there are pit toilets all over the park. Both the upper campground and the Little Qualicum Falls day-use area contain buildings with flush toilets.

5. Restaurants and Other Nearby Attractions

If you are hungry, there are plenty of spots nearby where you can grab a bite to eat. If you are in the mood for burgers, make sure to visit Bigfoot Burgers which is within a 2.5-kilometer range from the park.

Other restaurants like Whiskey Creek Farm also have good food and provide you with a good dining experience.

You can also check out the Coombs country market which is nearby. It is famous for its goats.

One should also visit Englishman’s river falls if they get a chance. Englishman river falls is a short drive from Cameron lake.

There is also a Heritage Forest nearby too which has a beautiful forest setting.

(a) Qualicum River

Another major tourist attraction nearby is the scenic little Qualicum River. From Horne Lake down to its mouth at Qualicum Beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island, this is a lovely little river. This river has an amazing hatchery also.

Visitors can fish in a 10 km stretch of the river above the hatchery by hiking from the large parking area for the Qualicum hatchery.

However, it is prohibited to fish the river downstream of the hatchery. Typically, there is a lot of fishing in the vicinity of the hatchery.

The walk through the river is one where you can soak in the beauty of nature. You can spot plenty of wildlife also. Black bears, deer, and elk are the most common among the bigger animals.

(b) Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach is a town on Vancouver Island. The small town is situated on a hillside and it overlooks the ocean.

It is a famous tourist location due to the peaceful environment and serene places nearby.

An interesting fact about Qualicum beach is that it has the oldest average population in Canada. The average age is about 65, suggesting that most of the citizens here are of retirement age or older.

Qualicum beach has a lot of activities and amenities for visitors. Qualicum beach sights include Qualicum beach museums and parks. The Qualicum beach nightlife is kind of limited however and there are very few bars and nightclubs.

6. Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park Reviews

The provincial park has excellent ratings across different websites and platforms. It has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 from over 550 reviews on Trip Advisor.

The only negative one can see from the reviews is that about the flush and pit toilets. 

So, if you are looking for a popular family recreation destination, add Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park to your list.

Last Updated on by Sanjana

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