I’ve spent many years exploring all over the Island, looking for wild places that make me feel small. While I enjoy the time and effort it takes to access more remote destinations in the backcountry, sometimes it’s nice to just hop in a car and transport yourself to one of these epic places without the hassle.
Myra Falls is perhaps the best spot to find that sensation. No matter how many times I’ve been to Myra Falls, it always seems to offer different perspectives throughout the years and seasons.
The journey to Myra Falls is as stunning as the falls itself with a winding drive through Strathcona Park, perched on the edge of Buttle Lake. The drive is a great introduction to the park, travelling through a narrow amphitheatre of mountains with walls of coniferous trees and snow-capped peaks that scrape the sky in all directions. These views are just an appetizer of what awaits at the end of the lake.
Visiting Myra Falls in different seasons offers completely different experiences. Winter can be every bit as beautiful as summer. The area can be transformed with snow-blanketing the falls and hanging icicles clinging to the rock faces. Summer is the time most people visit Myra Falls and it typically offers lower water levels and lower flows over the falls. Since the falls are as cold as they are beautiful, summer is the only reasonable time to attempt swimming here.
The cascading falls aren’t the only features that make Myra Falls so unique. Its geographical features and benches of the rock, the foundation of the falls, are arguably just as interesting as the falls itself. These large shelves range in height from five to 25 feet, giving Myra Falls its unique looking cascades. Sometimes I feel like a critter crawling up and down their differing levels. I’ve explored all over Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island, but don’t recall ever seeing rocks that resemble these structures.
My favourite way of experiencing Myra Falls is approaching the falls from the water, instead of on foot via the normal trail route. Dropping in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard at the south end of Buttle Lake and paddling to the bottom of the falls is truly a unique approach. Weather permitting, the bridge passing over Price Creek makes a suitable drop-in spot for loading your kayak, canoe, or paddle board.
Paddling north, gliding across the calm, morning waters, there is a great sense of peace here. As you get further down the lake and round a corner shielding the falls to the south, you begin to hear the rush of raging water echo across the lake. From the water you are far away enough to see most of the fifth and sixth cascades.
When you hear the rush and see the free fall of water, an illusion of time slowing draws you in and mesmerizes your senses.
Paddling around the far side of the gravel bank, at the bottom of the falls, allows you to come front and centre to the bottom cascade. Depending on the water level, you can paddle right to the bottom of the falls and play in the torrent of water, trying to get as close as you can to the falls as the rapids swirl and rip where the falls enter the lake. If you were needing a cool down or a shower, this can also double as such, with the mist of the falls lifting off the lake and if you manage to get close enough, making you look like you were caught in a winter rain. After getting our fill of playing in the rapids of the falls we pulled up our boats onto the closest gravel bar in front of the falls to break for snacks, a swim and naps in the sun.