Helmcken Falls is the main tourist attraction in Wells Gray Provincial Park of BC, Canada. The waterfall is named after Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, who was a physician with the Hudson’s Bay Company in Victoria in 1850 and had never visited Helmcken Falls himself. Ranked Canada’s fourth highest falls with a vertical drop of 141m (463ft) over the edge of volcanic plateau, Helmcken Falls is one of the reasons for the establishment of Wells Gray Provincial Park in 1939.
Helmcken Falls is the last waterfalls on Murtle River, before Murtle River joins Clearwater River. The other six waterfalls on Murtle River, upstream from Helmcken Falls: The Mushbowl, Dawson Falls, Majerus Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Meadow Falls and McDougall Falls. Only Helmcken Falls, The Mushbowl and Dawson Falls can be reached by road. The others are accessed by hiking trails.
Hiking Trails Around Helmcken Falls
Main Lookout Viewpoint:
Distance: 100m (less than 5min)
Description: The lookout viewpoint is located next to the Helmcken Falls tourist parking lot. Read below for map and driving direction. A short walk from the parking lot leads to panoramic view of Helmcken Falls and Canyon.
South Rim Trail:
Distance: 5km (60min) one way
Description: The trailhead starts near Dawson Falls and follows the south bank of Murtle River to the brink of Helmcken Falls. No fences at the end of this trail, so caution is important.
Helmcken Canyon Trail:
Distance: 30min one way
Description: walk west from the Main Lookout Viewpoint, and follow the rim of Helmcken Canyon to an overlook for the confluence of Clearwater River and Murtle River. The trail descnds about 250m (820ft) below the Main Lookout Viewpoint.
Bottom of Helmcken Falls Route:
Distance: 4 hours one way
Description: Continue from the overlook at the end of Helmcken Canyon Trail. The trail deteriorates into a strenuous scrambling route which descends into Helmcken Canyon, and then follows Murtle River upstream to the bottom of the falls.
Gattling Gorge Trail:
Distance: 1 hour one way
Description: Gattling Gorge is the narrowest point of the Clearwater River, about 20m (66ft) across. A trail from the Main Lookout Viewpoint leads to this gorge but signage is poor.