Cypress Falls: Getting Lost in West Van

Cypress Falls is one of those “it’s drizzly and bleak and I only have a few hours” kinds of hikes. It’s best in winter – when the snow melts there are better (higher) hikes – but if you find yourself here in summer, make it worth your while by jumping into the water or wandering off in pursuit of wild blackberries. These photos are from a hot August day, a misty October one, and a freezing Boxing Day. The hike was worth it every time.

Drizzly hikes

Located in West Vancouver, the trail is a quick 30 minutes from Vancouver but without the crowds of North Shore favourites. The trailhead is at the intersection of Woodgreen (Drive) and Woodgreen (Place) but let go of physics, and the gravel driveway to the parking lot and trailhead will appear.

While popular with dogs, we’ve never seen more than a dozen people on the hike. This may be because it’s so poorly marked, we’ve gotten lost every time we’ve done it.

The first time we got lost, we discovered the blackberry bushes (at the top of the west side of the creek, behind the chain link fence – hikers are allowed past the fence, promise.)

Blackberry bushes by Cypress Falls

The second time we got lost, we discovered the perfect spot to swim – and some kind stranger had already left beach chairs out for the post-swim chill (just up from the bridge, on the west side.)

Swimming spots

The third time we got lost, we discovered a cool old abandoned truck (halfway to the upper falls, on the east side trails.)

But before you get lost, just after leaving the parking lot, you’ll wind your way towards the river through Douglas Fir and Cedar trees. It’s a perpetually damp place, so it always feels quiet and a little magical, but it can get also get super muddy in spring and fall.

The start of the hike

After minor elevation gain (the whole trip is pretty flat) and only 10 minutes in, you’ll get your first good view of the river – Lower Cypress Falls. This is also where you’ll start getting lost, as both the east and the west side ‘trails’ seem pretty optimistically titled.

When you hit the wooden bridge, you have two options – stay left and scramble up the slope, or cross the bridge and hike other side. The left (west) side trails can be overgrown, but some people argue they have better views. The right (east) side trails are a little steeper with some drops you’ll want to watch puppies and kids around, but also offer nice views and will take you past the relic of the old car embedded in the bank.

Choose your own adventure

With either option, if you stick close enough to the creek you’ll eventually hit the falls. There are plenty of trails that shoot off from the main trails if you want more of a hike – or if you take a wrong turn. Both the creek-side trails will eventually intersect with the Eagle Lake Access Road so you can cross over to the other side of the trails and make your way back.

Cypress Falls

Either route you take, and whichever ways you get lost, the forest is beautiful, the river is raging, and you’re in the great outdoors. Isn’t that the whole point?

Time: 1 hour if you’re able to stick to the trail. Up to 3 if you use getting lost as an excuse to explore.
Distance: 3 KM
Elevation gain: 130 M
Driving time from Vancouver: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Worth-It Factor: 7/10