It won’t surprise you to learn that everyone here at Alpine loves to explore this incredible region.
We’ve gone on countless hikes and followed numerous trails in and around Wells Gray and the beautiful North Thompson wilderness. With 41 named waterfalls (and the list is growing every year) and innumerable rivers, lakes, peaks, plateaus, and canyons, there are so many stunning adventures to undertake!
Our guests frequently ask us which routes are our favourites. That’s a tough question, and you’ll get a different answer from each of us! But there are definitely several trails in the park that everyone agrees are worth taking. We’ve compiled a list of our collective go-to treks.
You’ll find inspiration no matter where you are in Wells Gray, but these 5 routes are sure to take your breath away.
Lace up your boots (and grab the bug spray) and get out there!
We encourage all guests to stop at the Wells Gray Park Information Centre before starting any hike. Occasionally, trails will be shut down for weather, maintenance, or the protection of wildlife and safety of visitors. The Info Centre has the most up-to-date trail condition reports as well as excellent maps.
Moul & McDiarmid Falls
Moul Falls is a popular route, especially if you’ve got little ones or pets in your group. The viewing platform is readily accessible along a wide, flat road that narrows to a trail. For a short trip, this one packs a lot of bang for your buck. The 35m cascade is dramatic and lovely. If you’ve got a little bit more energy (and balance), continue down the “unofficial” trail to the left of the viewpoint.
This is where the magic happens.
This extension is steep and a little bit rocky as it leads down to the mossy caves behind the falls. Mist and thunder and rainbows —it’s really a unique experience. Fair warning, you will get wet, here! Many people take this route is swimsuits, and enjoy a cold refreshing dip in the shallow water at the bottom.
Experienced hikers should continue on to McDiarmid Falls. This 10m drop lies downstream from Moul Falls and can be reached by a turnoff before the Moul viewing platform (look for the wooden bridge). The trail winds through old-growth forest, and is steep and loose in several spots, making it pretty challenging.
The reward is a great one, though. These falls are stout and broad as they tumble into Grouse Creek. You’re likely to have the place to yourself, and you can get up close to enjoy it (the rocks are mossy and slick, step carefully!).
Moul Falls – 5.5 km (1 hour); Moderate
McDiarmid Falls – 10 km (4 hours); Advanced
Triple Decker Falls and Candle Creek Falls
The roaring, 60m tiered Triple Decker Falls lies less than a kilometer from the parking lot. It’s a steep but not difficult trail, adventurous kids and on-leash pets should be fine. There are usually courtesy walking sticks waiting at the top (return them when you’re done). The cascade is magnificent –and reasonably easy– to see, and the area at the base is really quite peaceful.
But don’t stop there!
The Clearwater River trail continues for 7 km to Candle Creek Falls. This route is tougher, with several steep sections and unprotected cliffs at the edge of dense forest. Expect vertical climbing (with the aid of a rope) in some sections. But there are spectacular sights along the way: manmade and natural land bridges, volcanic cliffs dropping into dramatic canyons, and rushing rapids. The falls are a hidden gem, with a dramatic 10m plunge ending in a series of smaller cascades. A small path leads behind the veil here, too. It’s worth the climb, up and down!
Triple Decker Falls – 1.6 km (45 minutes); Moderate
Candle Creek Falls – 7km (3 hours); Moderate-Advanced
Saphats Creek Falls
Like its more famous big brother (Helmcken), Spahats Falls strikes through ancient volcanic rock formations hidden under old-growth forests. The creek plunges a satisfying 75 meters into the pool at the bottom of the canyon.
An easy, shady hike from the parking lot, with plenty of informative signage, Saphats is not a well-kept secret. But it’s stunning and unique, and there are several lesser-known trails around it that will get you away from the crowds.
This waterfall can be viewed from a series of short loop trails along the rim of the canyon near the viewing platform, and down to the Shaden viewing platform overlooking the valley. The longest of these loops will take about 20 minutes, winding through the tall trees. The falls can also be accessed via a spur route along the Clearwater River Trail, 1.5 km away at the breathtaking Natural Bridge (be aware that this route is not monitored and very steep!). This hike offers a two-for-one set of natural wonders and only adds about half an hour to the trip.
More adventurous climbers can make the descent along the unofficial track that descends to the bottom of the gorge. Please note: this difficult trail can be treacherous in wet weather or during the spring melt.
Saphats Creek Falls – .5km – 3km (10 minutes – 1.5 hours); Easy (viewpoint and rim trails) – Moderate (Natural Bridge trail) – Advanced (canyon base)
This is technically the tallest waterfall in Wells Gray, although it’s tiered descent breaks it the water into lacy ribbons, so the 198m drop seems almost dainty when compared to its neighbours. The trail is not difficult, but is almost always damp and mucky, and stippled with exposed roots. This hike will be buggy, be prepared! After a short descent alongside the creek (lots of bonus “mini falls” along the way), it opens up to the bottom of the fan-like cascade. Even though it’s easy to access from the parking lot, Silvertip Falls falls always feels like a secret.
Advanced hikers can make their way up to a steep makeshift trail that climbs along the left side of the falls. It is not a clean route, and should only be attempted in dry conditions (good grip and surefootedness are necessary -not safe for kids or pets!), but it is passable and worthwhile. Be considerate of erosion issues!
Silvertip Falls – 1.6 km (45 minutes); Moderate (to base)-Advanced (to top)
Well, you won’t get a waterfall at the end of this one, but it hardly matters. The 360° view from the summit of Trophy Mountain is phenomenal. This is a full-day endeavour, but there are plenty of places (and reasons) to stop and rest along the way.
Share the route with grouse, ptarmigans, marmots, deer, and bears. Follow the trail through dense forest that opens to a series of pastoral alpine wildflower meadows dotted with tarns and pools. Pause for a wild blueberry snack break on the way to Shelia Lake. Climb through ice fields and snowdrifts, even in the height of summer, and scramble over vast, shimmering fields of quartz to the summit. Watch your ankles!
There’s a gazebo at the top, perfect for a lunch break.
Though it’s not difficult, this is a hike that requires preparation. Pack plenty of water and warm layers to ensure you’re comfortable and safe throughout your trek.
Trophy Lake – 20km (8 hours); Moderate
Of course, a visit to Helmcken Falls is practically mandatory when you journey to Wells Gray (and absolutely, absolutely worth it)! We also love the Bailey’s Chute-West Lake Loop and Dawson Falls. These are among the most popular hiking routes with day-trippers and park visitors, and are easily accessed from the road. Each one is gorgeous and awe-inspiring, and you won’t be disappointed, especially if you have a limited amount of time to spend exploring.
We’re so fortunate to be surrounded by the unadulterated Canadian wilderness here at Alpine Meadows. The mesmerizing waterfalls, fresh, clear air, and natural highs that come from getting outdoors; we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
But we would like to share it with the world! We want to help our Alpine guests discover the bounty of Wells Gray.
Please remember that, above all, this is wild country!
There will be lots of mosquitos, and the trails will be slippery, especially near the waterfalls.
Use good judgment, never hike alone, have proper footwear, and pack plenty of water and maybe a walking stick.
Always be respectful of the wild animals you may see –you’re in their space, here, and they can be unpredictable.
Take lots of photos, but please don’t take anything else from our parks! Your memories are the best souvenirs.
The team at Alpine Meadows Resort will be ready to welcome you back at the end of the day, and we’re eager to hear all about the roads you’ve taken.