Hiking Helmcken Falls, British Columbia

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Helmcken Falls is a 141 m (463 ft) waterfall on the Murtle River within Wells Gray Provincial Park in British Columbia …

The protection of Helmcken Falls was one of the reasons for the creation of Wells Gray Provincial Park in 1939.

This was my first visit to massive Wells Gray.  Like 99% of visitors, I drove only the 42km of paved roadway out of the gateway town of Clearwater.

End of the road is the short walk to a viewing platform on the rim of the canyon providing a panorama of the falls and canyon

Helmcken is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, measured by total straight drop without a break.

Next I hiked to the top of the Falls (other side) on the Rim Trail.

That’s about 3 hours, 8 km round-trip.

There’s no fence along canyon edge so you can climb directly above the river.

Click PLAY or watch some drone footage on YouTube.

Best Pemberton B.C. hike – One Mile to Nairn Falls

I parked at the Tim Horton’s coffee shop in Pemberton near Whistler.

Hiked to Nairn via pretty One Mile Lake.

About an hour each way to visit both.

In fact, I enjoyed One Mile just much as the Falls themselves.

I do love boardwalk.

It’s a great family hiking option year-round. You can skate One Mile Lake during the winter.

From the end of the lake I connected to Nairn Falls via Lumpy’s mountain bike trail system. A bit rugged at points.

Nairn Falls themselves are busy during the summer. This is a very popular stop for tourists.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. 

related – Outdoor Vancouver – Nairn Falls Hike in Pemberton

Hiking to Yoho Lake

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Yoho Lake was the site of the original Alpine Club of Canada camp in 1906.

Early alpinists climbed Mt Wapta (south) and Michaels Peak (north).

Mt Wapta

Returning from our Twin Falls hike, we resupplied at the vehicles parked at the Takakkaw Falls trailhead.

Then started with great views over to Takakkaw , the second highest Falls in Canada.

One of our group forgot his sunglasses at the lookout.

ET and I asked some hikers going the other direction to see if they could find them. And it worked! We found them on ET’s vehicle 2 days later.

We climbed steadily up to the lake on a route that many switchbacks.

More wildflowers here than on the Twin Falls side.

You catch a glimpse en route of Hidden Lake.

Here’s a first look at Yoho lake.

Yoho lake is deep emerald green, more so than Emerald lake.

You’d have to be CRAZY to swim.

Warren set up a cook tarp to protect from sun and rain.

It’s a peaceful campground.

Next morning we had one deer hang around the tents.  I assume he was salt deprived, looking for urine.

We took a day hike to look down on to Emerald lake.

There are some impressive waterfalls en route.

Warren and I decided to extend the walk and circumambulate Emerald lake.  (Actually, we had originally planned to return via Burgess Pass trail — but it seemed to be unsigned and closed in 2020.). So we walked around Emerald lake and back the way we came.

The only difficult section was about a half hour of flooded alluvial plain.

Once back in camp we found our group had decided to hike out a day early.  Forecast was for big storm.

Rather than camp at the Takakkaw Falls campground, we instead drove to Banff and enjoyed a dry night at the Hidden Ridge resort.

Another great hiking adventure.  🙂

Hiking to Twin Falls, Yoho National Park

Rock walls and waterfalls.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Though Banff and Jasper are more famous internationally, locals like myself consider Yoho National Park even better for hiking.

Golden is the nearest town.  Calgary the nearest international airport.

We parked at the Takakkaw Falls trailhead.

Takakkaw 254 metres (833 ft) is the 2nd tallest waterfall in Canada.

Friends from the flat lands of Saskatchewan schedule a hiking holiday every year. I tagged along, eventually joining their COVID-19 bubble.

As we set off, weather was deteriorating.

And, as so often the case in the Rockies in summer, we were soon hiding in the trees from a hail storm.

makeshift backpack cover

Warren considers bad weather an interesting challenge. And it was this day.

Last year the group had camped here at Laughing Falls.

We pushed on in the rain.

On arrival at Twin Falls campground, Warren set up a tarp.  This camp is about 6.7 km   from the trailhead. And about 100m elevation gain.

We hung our food as bears are always a concern in the Rockies.

The main sites were quite wet so we placed our tents on dryer ground as much as possible.

Happily, next morning was sunnier.

The BIG downside in 2020 — it’s been a terrible mosquito year.

ready for the Whaleback

Twin Falls is a lovely hiking area.

Here’s a first look at Twin Falls.

Twin Falls Tea House was closed this year due to COVID-19. It was extensively renovated in 2005 and will be again this season.

Rock walls and waterfalls.

We had plenty of switchbacks getting to the top of the Whaleback ridge.

Lunch at the top.

I used my Peakfinder app to confirm the names of surrounding mountains.

The highlight of the hike was Twin Falls. Both top and bottom.

Hikers have died falling from here. One survived 45 minutes in the freezing whirlpool before finally being rescued.

Click PLAY or watch a short video of our adventure on YouTube.

Ventisquero Colgante hike, Chile

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

  • 6.6km return to observation platform
  • rough and muddy trail

Queulat National Park is a very popular destination for tourists. Here’s how the park’s centerpiece, the Queulat Hanging Glacier, looks in perfect weather.

Ventisquero Colgante Falls in summer, ChileVentisquero Colgante Falls in summer , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There’s a visitor centre explaining the various short hikes.

You start on a long suspension bridge.

I was there on a rainy day. Most days are rainy.

This is dense Valdivian temperate rain forest. Parts of the park receive up to 4,000 mm (157 in) of precipitation annually.

There is some boardwalk, but expect to get muddy. (I wore neoprene booties rather than socks.)

Here’s the viewpoint as I saw it.

On descending I’d definitely recommend adding a short spur trail to Laguna Tempanos.

It’s a different perspective from the lake.

Everyone is happy to visit Quelat. A weird and wonderful microclimate.

I wore neoprene booties instead of socks. Inside my feet were warm, wet and smelly.

Queulat National Park is is 23-kilometers away from pretty Puyuhuapi town, the normal jumping off point for travelers.

related – Ventisquero Colgante: The Hanging Glacier of Queulat

Pumalín, Chile – Caleta Gonzalo Cascada trail

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Hike to a spectacular waterfall.

Duration: 3 hours round trip.
Distance: 5,6 km round trip.
Return: Same route.
Difficulty: Low-Medium.

Parque Pumalín

This hike is very challenging. Calling it Low-Medium is insanity. 🙄

There are many sections where you need to use your hands. Scrambles.

The river crossing could be dangerous / impossible at high water. I slipped in with both feet while boulder hopping.

You can quickly see why this temperate rain forest was so inaccessible before superb trail builders got here.

There was a ton of work done to put in this trail. Plenty of boardwalk, most made from local wood onsite.

Check this natural park bench.

The crux of the hike are these two ladders.

Made it. This is what I expected at Pumalín.

For me it was 3 hours round trip. Finishing at 8pm I had only about 2 hours of daylight left to get set-up at the nearby campground and to cook up a BIG dinner.

Cascada was my first hike in this sector of Parque Pumalín.

Laugevagur hike Iceland – day 3

Day 0 | Landmannalaugar | 1 | 2 | 3 | video | info

day 3 – Þórsmörk (Básar) to Skógar

25km, 10-12hrs

When I think back on Laugevagur, my first thoughts are of the amazing waterfalls on the last day. Is there a more spectacular chain of falls anywhere else on Earth?

Happily, the weather was quite good when I woke early. Then a thunder storm rolled in and disappeared before I’d finished coffee.

Later I learned that Mark was already up high. Very nervous. There’s no place to hide from lightning in Iceland.

Here I was psyching up for the 900m climb to Fimmvörðuháls pass.

I knew it could be a long, tough day climbing to the icefields up on a high plateau. It’s the most glaciated section. But at least there are NO RIVER CROSSINGS!

The ascent was quite easy, as it turned out.

What’s this?

These were the first hikers I saw coming the other direction. Doing this with a day pack is quite popular.

Stunning views.

Recall the 2010 volcano that disrupted air traffic all over Europe?

This is it. You walk that massive lava flow.

Moodi and Magni (Thor’s sons) are two summit cones pushed up in 2010.


Everyone climbs Magni to enjoy the 360 degree view.

One worry late in the season is the snowfields turning to slush. Or water.

Happily, it was still good walking for me on July 29th.

Baldvinsskali is a small emergency hut en route. Hikers are allowed to escape the wind and elements if needed.

My only complaint about this hiking day is some road walking on the way down. I’d prefer they make a parallel walking trail.

How far to Skógar?

Waterfalls begin.

The trail follows the river down.

Every tourist to Iceland visits the falls at Skógar.

Made it!

About half way through the day I’d decided to bus back to Reykjavík, if I could. Mark was shooting photos at the base of the falls. I bought a ticket on his bus.

You could stay over. Skógar has a hostel and camping. As well as several restaurants.

Day 0 | Landmannalaugar | 1 | 2 | 3 | video | info