Little Qualicum Falls

What It's Like
An exciting double drop draped in mystical Vancouver Island rainforest.
Scouting / Portaging
Easy - scout from the trail network.
Park and huck; scouting + 2 minutes of paddling.
When to Go
Rain fed in the fall/winter, snowmelt in the spring.
Little Qualicum Falls is an incredible park and huck drop found a short way up Island from Nanaimo. Like most rivers on the Island, this piece of kayaking eye candy is surrounded by lush coastal rainforest and the water runs clear and green. Photos of the drop speak for themselves. While it is not a trivial stretch of whitewater, for those up for the action it is something to put on the list of Island classics to check out.

This drop is found in Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park on highway 4 (the road to Tofino) near the small town of Coombs. It's approximately 1 hour from the ferry terminal in Nanaimo. The park is well signed once you get on highway 4. Drive in and park at the end of the road and use the extensive trail network to scout and access the river. If you're there in the summer, be prepared to be swarmed by onlookers as you run the drops.

The best way to see if Little Qualicum is running is to go and look at the drop, or you can check the Little Qualicum online gauge. It's runnable at a variety of levels, and it seems like 10-15 cms is a good medium range. Generally, Little Qualicum runs when other runs in the area are low. The Little Qualicum River flows out of Cameron Lake, which is fed by the classic Cameron River, so if you hear the Cameron is low, Little Qualicum might be good to go - Little Qualicum is usually high when the Cameron is running.

The line on the falls is obvious. Set what safety you can, and if you don't want to run the tricky entrance drop it's possible to seal launch from river left. The dangers are also obvious. After the 2 big drops there is a runout ledge with a nasty hole. You can hike out shortly after, or you can continue downstream a short way to run some smaller ledges further downstream.

Maxi Kniewasser dropping the second falls. Photo by Greg Dashper.

Steve Arns at the lip. Photo by Greg Dashper.