Christie Falls in Ladysmith – Guide to Visiting

Christie Falls is located inside the beautiful Cowichan Valley, a short distance from the small town of Ladysmith. The ideal time to visit is during the wet season when Bush Creek, which feeds the Christie Falls, is overflowing with water.

The hike is relatively easy and takes less than an hour. If you love waterfalls, you will be delighted to hear the area has several, each with its charm and splendour.

Christie Falls Cabin

You can bring your camera, pack a lunch, and enjoy a lovely afternoon at the falls. There is nothing quite as stunning as watching the water cascading down a cliff. 

Things to Know About Christie Falls

Vancouver Island has countless ancient trees, amazing beaches and magnificent waterfalls. It is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers. We enjoyed visiting Christie Falls, and now it is on our list of the best waterfalls to see on Vancouver Island.

Where Is Christie Falls Located?

Christie Fall is located on southern Vancouver Island inside the beautiful Cowichan Valley. The name Cowichan is believed to originate from the First Nations tribal name Quw’utsun.

Christie Falls in late April afternoon

The trailhead for Christie Falls is a short 6 minutes (3.7 km) drive from Ladysmith and about 1 hour 15 minutes (92 km) drive from downtown Victoria.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Christie Falls?

The best time to visit Christie Falls is springtime or after heavy rainfall. During dry summer months, the size of the fall is significantly reduced, and it can be dried out. 

If you visit Christie Falls during winter after prolonged cold weather, you might see some stunning ice formations.

Why Should You Visit Christie Falls?

Christie Falls is fed by the Bush Creek, which eventually drains into the Strait of Georgia. As the creek tumbles down the hill between rocks, it forms many waterfalls along the way.

Photographing Christie Falls

The Bush Creek splits in two above Christie Falls and creates two (after a heavy rain three) spectacular waterfalls. Both creeks rejoin together shortly after.

There are lots of little paths around the waterfalls to explore. You can make a short loop and visit a lovely cabin near the falls.

How Long Is the Hike to Christie Falls?

The hike to Christie Falls is about 6.6 kilometres and takes less than two hours to complete. The trail is relatively easy for the first three kilometres, and afterwards, there is a 300-meter uphill section which is moderate. The elevation gain is 137 meters.

Christie Falls from the side

There are several access points, one is from Arroyo Road, and the second one is from Oyster Sto-Lo Road. If you like to extend your hike, you can make a large loop and pass by both trailheads, starting from either one. 

The large loop is 7.2 kilometres, and the elevation gain is 181 meters. You will need to walk over some train tracks along the highway for a short distance.

We have tried the large loop and found the trail from Arroyo Road to be the best and most straightforward.

Directions to Christie Falls Trailhead

To reach the trailhead from Ladysmith, take the Trans Canada Highway. Turn left onto Grouhel Road, then take the first right onto Christie Road. At the last stop sign, turn left onto Arroyo Road and drive until the end. You will see a red gate there.

The first large waterfall along the trail

Park your car on the side of the road. Sometimes the gate is open; the road leads to the Fish Hatchery. We do not recommend driving past the gate because it might be closed later on, locking your vehicle in.

Christie Falls Hike

As I mentioned, Christie Falls has several access points. We recommend the hike from Arroyo Road because it is the most straightforward. You can make a small loop near the falls and stop by a lovely cabin.

A lovely trail through a mossy forest

Hike Key Facts

  • Distance: 6.6 km
  • Estimated Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 135 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Cowichan Valley
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring
  • Parking: Arroyo Road

Christie Falls Trail

From Arroyo Road, you will see two trails off to the right. Follow either one of them; they join together soon after. You will be on the Trans Canada Trail.

How to balance on one foot with a camera on a log bridge

Interesting Fact: The Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest trail of its kind. It spans approximately 16,000 km and goes through every province and territory in Canada.

Keep walking for approximately two kilometres; the trail is relatively flat. You will come to a junction; head right here. In about 700 meters, you will come to a Bush Creek Fish Hatchery. 

Once you reach the hatchery, look along the left side of the creek for a trail not far from the bridge. Hike uphill through a beautiful forest; you will see the stream on your right-hand side. Follow this trail until you reach the first waterfall.

The First Waterfall

The first waterfall is formed because Bush Creek splits in two a short distance above the falls. One branch creates this smaller waterfall, and the other creates Christie Falls.

This waterfall is located a short distance from Christie Falls

Some trees block the views as you come near the falls, but you can walk all the way to the base of the falls and get unobstructed views. 

Christie Falls

To reach the main waterfall, cross over the wooden log bridge and walk a bit uphill. You will hear the roaring waterfall as you get closer. Once you are there, enjoy the fantastic views of the water cascading down the face of the rock.

Christie Falls captured by long exposure

If you like exploring, there is a steep but short slope with a rope close to the Christie Falls on the left. It will take you to the top of the falls and to another charming waterfall. You can also hike up the creek for some lovely views.

To return to the trailhead, you can head back the same way you came or make a small loop through the forest and visit the Christie Falls Cabin. 

Cross back over the Bush Creek; after a short distance, you will come to a junction. Go right here and follow the trail until you reach the cabin. Continue following the trail downhill; it will connect to the Trans Canada Trail you started on.

Christie Falls Cabin

John Goodman and his friends built the Christie Falls Cabin in 1992. John was inspired to create a cabin in the woods and made his dream come true through hard work and sweat. 

Christie Falls Cabin

He and his team had to bring their tools and materials to the cabin on foot, which was not easy because there was no trail then. They also built bunk beds, brought in a stove and dug a hole for the outhouse. 

Since the cabin was built, it has been enjoyed by many people, including the crew that made it. 

Tips for Photographing Christie Falls

The best time of day for photographing waterfalls is generally either the early morning or late afternoon. Shooting at these times of day will allow you to capture the falls without direct sunlight hitting the water. 

Photographing Christie Falls

Make sure you have a wide lens to capture the whole waterfall. Bring plenty of microfiber cloths to keep your lens clean and dry. You will often find the spray from the waterfall landing on your lens. Keep wiping it as best you can between shots. 

If you want to take a long exposure photo and create a silky effect, you will need a tripod to stabilize your camera and an ND filter. Try to experiment. Use a slow shutter speed, around 1.5 seconds or slower. 

Other Things to Do in Cowichan Valley

The Cowichan Valley is a region around the Cowichan River, Cowichan Bay and Cowichan Lake. It is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone and is home to the warmest year-round temperatures in the country. 

Cowichan is home to farms, wineries, cideries and distilleries. It is also a hiking and biking destination with some fantastic views. 

Kinsol Trestle

The Kinsol Trestle is one of the tallest free-standing and most spectacular timber rail trestle structures in the world. It is 187 long and stands 44 meters above the Koksilah River. 

Kinsol Trestle in winter

Originally it was completed in 1920 and was named for the nearby “King Solomon Mine,” which ultimately closed down due to its failure to produce silver and copper. 

In 2007 plans were made to restore the trestle as a tourist attraction and a way to extend the Trans Canada Trail network. 

Old Baldy Mountain

This moderate 3.4-kilometre hike is one of the most popular trails in the Cowichan Valley. The summit of Old Baldy Mountain offers amazing 360 views over Shawnigan Lake, Saanich Inlet, Sidney and the Gulf Islands. We could even see the magnificent Mount Baker in the distance. 

Old Baldy Mountain offers stunning views over Shawnigan Lake

You can also enjoy the views from a swing located a short distance below the summit. The trail can get busy over the weekends and holidays, and there might be a lineup to get your photo with the famous swing.  

Cowichan Valley Wine and Food Tour

Enjoy great food, award-winning wines and splendid beauty. During the tour, you will visit some of the prettiest vineyards in the Cowichan Valley and explore the flavours of the island’s oldest vines. 

Cowichan Valley has endless rolling vineyards

Relax and take in the beautiful countryside. Have lunch at a boutique winery surrounded by rolling vineyards. >>Book your Cowichan Valley Wine and Food Tour here

Plan Your Trip to Vancouver Island

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Ancient trees on Vancouver Island

Read More Travel Guides

We hope you enjoyed our guide on Christie Falls. Let us know in the comments below. Here are a few of our favourite articles to inspire your travels around Vancouver Island.

Lovely waterfall along the trail

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