COLUMN: Spectacular falls are worth a visit

Rather than while away a hot afternoon in the shade of the big cherry tree ...

Cascade Falls plunge into a clear cauldron.

Cascade Falls plunge into a clear cauldron.

Rather than while away a hot afternoon in the shade of the big cherry tree, I decided to explore, for the first time, Cascade Falls regional park nestled deep in the woods north east of Mission.

Due to our unseasonably dry weather, along Sylvester Road approaching the park, I mused that with all the dry creek beds just passed over, there may not be any “falls” to see.

Once in the parking lot, however, and beginning the 250-metre upwards trek, I could hear the sounds of gurgling, then rushing water.

The falls were cascading, as glimpses through the forest attested, and by the time I reached the new, but rustically-built stairs, the cataract was clearly visible.

The hike up is steep, but not too onerous, though the trail is definitely not wheelchair friendly. Handicapped accessibility to the falls can be made, but only via the adjacent and rough forest service road that meets a boardwalk at the viewing area.

The falls are definitely worthy of a visit – the 30-metre cascade flowing though a notch to free-fall into a beautiful and clear cauldron.

What makes the sight even more spectacular is the relatively new suspension bridge that spans the canyon carved by millennia of water flow, allowing viewing and photos from both sides of the falls.

Downstream and far below you can catch glimpses of sun-dappled pools and the sounds of kids playing in the water.

Despite the beauty, I still continued to ponder where all the water was going, because it certainly isn’t visible flowing under the main road leading to the park turn-off.

On the way home, I again rubbernecked what I thought to be Cascade Creek. Bone dry, the stream bed a wide swath of rust-coloured gravel.

The next day I called the parks department of Fraser Valley Regional District with two questions. The first related to information on the interpretive sign at the falls viewing area which referred to a run-of-river power project. I thought, if there is one above the falls, it must be doing a good job to maintain the flow that still provides a beautiful cascade during this summer’s drought. The second question was “where does the water go?”

According to Christina Vugteveen, FVRD’s manager of parks, it appears Cascade is free of any power projects, the signage relating to a financial contribution to the park to help build the suspension bridge and trail infrastructure.

As to where the water went, all she could offer was that it eventually flowed to Stave Lake, and emailed me a topographic map showing blue lines depicting the route of the creek.

Curiosity got the best of me, so a couple of days later I returned to the park, and walked down the watercourse. And some six hundred metres or so from the falls, the mystery was solved. The visible creek ends in a jumble of rocks – its flow going, as I thought, underground presumably to make its subterranean way to the lake.

Regardless, Cascade Falls is definitely worth visiting, and I will go back when our normal rainy season returns in earnest because I’m certain with increased flow the waterfall will be even more spectacular.

Cascade Falls is easy to locate from Abbotsford: Travel north to Mission and after crossing the bridge head east on Highway 7 for about six kilometres to Sylvester Road. Before that though, be sure to check out the best-disguised cell phone tower I’ve ever seen near the entrance road to Hatzic Lake.

Once you turn onto Sylvester it’s roughly 15K of scenic, winding, road to the park. You can’t miss the signs. Turn right onto Ridgeview and one kilometre later it takes you into the parking lot.

markrushton@abbynews.com