Place Creek Falls, 8 Dec 2021

A really nice little hike to a spectacular waterfall. Steep in places and you definitely need microspikes when it’s icy. Highly recommended!

We parked on Anson Place, a short dead-end road with a large turning circle. Be aware that the trail crosses the railway line and private property so please stick to the trail so that access isn’t limited in the future.

The route was mostly straightforward, although there is one point in the forest where it’s easy to end up off-track. Follow the big painted arrows on the trees. Take care on the return too as it’s not easy to see where you came from (there are no helpful arrows in this direction!). There was snow and ice near the beginning and a huge puddle to get around and more snow and ice closer to the waterfall. Take care on the ridge and slopes near the falls – they’re steep and a misstep could result in serious injury. Microspikes were very useful here.

I didn’t make notes at the time and as I write this I don’t recall any wildlife sightings but I suspect we heard a bird or two in the forest.

Distance: 2.5 km
Elevation gain: 90 m
Time: 1:15
Route on AllTrails

Key moments

  • πŸ™‚ Admiring the spectacular waterfall surrounded by ice and snow
  • πŸ™‚ Enjoying the peace and quiet – we had the trail all to ourselves
  • πŸ™‚ The forest floor carpeted in green moss and wintergreen leaves
  • ☹️ Nothing…. :-)

After a leisurely morning we left our cabin and drove up the Pemberton Portage Road, admiring the mountain views and glimpses of the river along the way. At Pemberton Pass, we turned into Anson Place and parked at the far end of the turning circle. Stepping out into the chilly air, we quickly layered up and pulled on our boots, setting off down the trail that descended a little towards the railway line. We checked each direction and crossed the tracks to reach a gate on the other side. Last time I remember climbing over this gate but today the gate was open so we walked through. I was tempted to close it, but I tend to leave things as I found them.

We followed the obvious path through the copse of trees, crunching through the frosty, fallen cottonwood leaves to skirt a huge puddle, and emerged under the power lines. The remains of an old car caught our eye for a moment before we dodged more puddles to reach the forest again. We turned left at a fork, taking the less obvious route (more from memory than being pointed in the right direction), and followed some old flagging before spotting a large red arrow spray painted on a large cedar. Crude but effective, I guess. Here we picked up the trail proper and almost immediately began to climb steeply up the hillside.

The trail was a lovely single track through open interior forest, the forest floor carpeted with moss and wintergreen leaves. For the next ten minutes or so we pushed up the steep climb, noting the occasional trail damage from the recent atmospheric river. The ground levelled off to the relief of our legs, allowing us to amble through the forest for a short distance before climbing again, soon reaching the edge of the creek on a high bank.

We turned left up the side of the creek, the size of the gully carved out by the water testament to how much has flowed in the past, and continued our climb. With a gap in the trees near the creek the ground was frozen hard and I wondered when we’d need to put on microspikes. Well, I didn’t have to wonder for long as we came to a small boulder field, coated with a dusting of frozen snow where we stopped to give ourselves the grip we needed, especially for the descent. The trail climbed ever more steeply over the rocks, bringing back memories of our gruelling hike in 2009, before levelling off in the trees once again as we neared the waterfall.

Last time the waterfall had taken us by surprise, the guide book saying almost nothing about it, but this time we knew what to expect. The creek was loud far below us and then, through the trees, we spotted the falls, the cliffs glowing white with snow and ice. A narrow side trail led down and across the steep slope for a better view of the waterfall. It was spectacular. Icicles dripped from every overhang, snow and bigger ice formation coated the rocks while a steady horsetail waterfall gushed down a gap in the ice.

It was a mesmerizing sight and we stood for quite a while in the cold air admiring the view. With care, I edged down another faint trail for a different view, searching for a clear shot from top to bottom. I could have sat here for ages listening to the sound of the water, despite the cold. Maria returned to the trail and walked further up the ridge for a view over the plunge pool, and I followed a few minutes later.

That ridge scared the life out of me in 2009, especially on our return trip after dark – muddy and slick with spray from the waterfall, it would have been so easy to slip and end up tumbling 30 or 40 metres down the slope. Today it was frozen solid – in other words equally slick and slippery, which made us very glad of our microspikes. But what a vantage point! It didn’t make for a good photo as we were looking down on the falls but we could make out so many ice formations on the cliffs and noted the boulders below were encased in a thick layer of ice.

But time was against us as we had another short hike in mind for this afternoon, and so we reluctantly retraced our steps, pausing for one last view of the waterfall before making our way down over the boulders and icy trail. It was surprising how much we remembered from our 2009 hike, noting where we almost took a wrong turn where the path dropped back into the forest.

Naturally our return trip was so much quicker and it wasn’t long before we were back on level ground, taking a moment to re-orient ourselves to make sure we picked up the correct trail – how we managed this in the dark remains a mystery to us! Back under the power lines, through the trees and over the railway line, and we were soon back at the car.

I don’t think we were quite sure what to expect from this little hike today but it totally exceeded our expectations and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the waterfall in its winter coat.

And then we were back on the road to the next hike….!

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