Here are my favourite waterfalls near Victoria and heading out west towards Sooke and Port Renfrew.
This post features mostly other people’s fabulous photos, as I’m compiling a list of inspirational spots for outdoor photography on the island.
1. Niagara Falls, Goldstream Provincial Park
Niagara Falls is 47.5 meters tall, making it almost as tall as its famous namesake.
Keep going up past the falls for an Instagram worthy view of the old railroad trestle.
2. Sitting Lady Falls, Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park
A wooden viewing platform offers a place to take photos.
3. Maryvine Falls, Sooke Potholes
Driving from Victoria: 50 minutes
Hiking (one way): 20 minutes (tricky to navigate, directions below)
This one is a bit of a hidden treasure. It’s not the same classic waterfall as some of the others on this list. But I like how you can get up close … and a bit wet right from the trail.
To get there, park in the very last parking lot for the Sooke Potholes day use area. Look for a hiking trail at the end of the parking lot. It is clearly a hiking trail (uneven dirt, rocks, branches) and not the nearby Gallooping Goose (very flat and gravel). Follow it uphill for no more than 10-15 minutes.
If you hit the old concrete flowline, you’ve gone too far. (Or perhaps you’re just starting a different adventure…)
As you move further away from the waterfall, you are entering a wilderness area. There are no developed trails and it is very easy to get lost. There is limited cell phone reception making it difficult call 911 if you get lost.
If you aren’t sure if you are have the right equipment and skills to do this safely, you probably do not. Consider starting with a local hiking group instead.
4. Sandcut Beach, Jordan River Regional Park
Driving from Victoria: 90 minutes
Hiking (one way): 15 minutes
Is this the most photographed waterfall near Victoria? It may be … for good reasons!
It’s far enough away from town to feel like a road trip, but not far enough away that you have to worry about getting out of bed early on the weekend.
5. Mystic Beach Waterfall
Driving from Victoria: 1 hour 45 minutes (Road signs say China Beach, which is also nearby)
Hiking (one way): Moderate 60 minutes, mostly in the woods. No cell phone coverage. Bring hiking shoes, water, snacks. (Directions)
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I added this one thanks to the feedback from the Take a Hike Facebook group. I totally forgot about it, as I am usually at this beach in the summer when it’s pretty much nonexistant. Looks like winter is the time to go!
You also get to enjoy the suspension bridges.
And rope swing!
Driving from Victoria: 2 hours (the last part is a bit adventurous)
Hiking (one way): 45 minutes, mostly easy beach walk followed by some scrambling up a creek
You could spend a weekend camping at Sombrio and not even know this waterfall was here.
The short distance from the highway to the parking lot is a bit of an adventure. BC Parks recommends a 4 wheel drive vehicle with sufficient clearance. However, I have taken my 2 wheel drive Hyundai Accent there many times, as I have on many roads it does not belong on.
If you go slowly, you should be OK. But you may end up slightly terrifying your east coast relatives. (Love you, mom!)
This space is First Nation sacred site. Unfortunately, the stone pathway has been permanently defaced with graffiti scratched in the walls. If you visit, leave the area even better than you found it. If you see someone being disrespectful, please intervene if you feel safe doing so.
Let me know if I’m missing any great waterfalls in this direction and I’ll add them to this post. Would love to see your photos!
And remember: take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints!