High Falls Creek
The following beta and photos were
provided by Chris Hood of Vancouver BC.
October 5, 2003 Reconnaissance
High Falls Creek is a serious canyoneering objective located
near the town of Squamish in southwestern British Columbia.
Access to the canyon begins at the town of Squamish and follows
Highway 99 north out of town. After leaving the last traffic
light in town, the highway passes a junction to the suburb
of Brackendale, then initiates a long climb through a wooded
area. The next junction is for the Squamish Valley Road and
Alice Lake Provincial Park-turn left here and follow the paved
Squamish Valley Road. Keep left after crossing the Cheakamus
River Bridge and follow the winding, but still paved route
through wooded flatlands and Squamish Reserve lands to a small
cluster of farms. The pavement ends at the milepost 20-continue
straight of a broad dirt mainline, soon reaching a short section
of pavement near a power station. Not far beyond, the once-again
dirt road crosses a creek beyond M.P. 22. Parking occurs on
either side of the road, and during the spring and summer
can be packed.
High Falls Creek is paralleled by a trail that crosses a
short stretch of flatland before beginning a very steep ascent
through dry forest and bluffs. A short spur trail leaves on
the right at the base of the first bluff and leads down to
the mouth of the canyon. The main trail is steep to very steep
in places and in a few spots includes short sections of cable
or chain for assistance. The track allows for a multitude
of access point to the canyon rim, but the narrowness of the
gorge and steepness of terrain prevents good views of the
canyon bottom. The trail quickly climbs to a viewpoint of
the main waterfall in the gorge, then leaves the canyon edge
soon after to climb through forest for a ways before reaching
cutblocks and a logging road on the upper end. One can continue
down the logging road to the Squamish Valley mainline, followed
by a ~1 mile walk back to the parking area.
A recent visit to the canyon included two elements. The very
low water conditions of the Fall of 2003 allowed for an attempted
ascent up the canyon to the base of the big waterfall. The
initial stretch of canyon is not too narrow, but quite deep,
with lots of wades and slippery rocks. A few small cascades
and easy boulder problems lead up to two swimmers, linked
by a 3-4 meter cascade. Above the second pool, the canyon
narrows somewhat above another 4-5 meter cascade. A slimy
V1-V2 (?) boulder problem looked necessary to get above this
point, but the stream appears to fill the gorge bottom above.
The clear water and lushly vegetated walls makes this a pretty
scramble to this point (guessing 300 meters above the entrance
I also assessed the canyon from the rim, with the gorge bottom
not easily visible up to main cascade. The big waterfall still
had quite a bit of water flowing over it and falls into a
tight cul-de-sac with no easy views of the base. The upper
part of the fall consists of two short (8-10 m?) plunges into
pools with no good stances or obvious anchors, followed by
the main falls. The sheer, or nearly so, main cascade is probably
greater than 60 meters in height, and there are probably more
falls below, although not likely higher than 10 meters. Above
the cascade, the creek falls through a pair of scenic punchbowl
falls before entering a short, but very narrow slot (1 m?)
filled with water. This section looks quite difficult, and
getting into position for the main drop is problematic. One
possibility involves ascending a fracture line on the left
just below the slot to a treed ledge, then anchoring off a
tree and rapping to an intermediate ledge. From the ledge,
a team could then do the long rap into the canyon proper,
avoiding the worst of the big falls. The area above the punchbowl
falls was not assessed, but it is believed that the canyon
extends for some distance above.
The potential difficulty of this canyon cannot be over-emphasized.
Water flow in particular should be assessed closely, and any
aspiring party should scout the canyon intensely before attempting.
Minimum required gear would include full rappelling gear,
including a 100 meter rope, several shorter lengths, drysuits,
lots of webbing, and a bolt kit-probably required for several
points. A lot a wet canyon experience would also help.
Looking down canyon from the top.
Only the top third of the waterfall is visible.