Review: Sylvia Falls / Goodwin Falls Hiking Trail
Sylvia Falls (upper cascade) and Goodwin Falls (lower cascade) share the same hiking trail and are located right next to each other along Mahood River. The hiking distance is 4km one way, about 90-120min hike.
This hiking trail is probably considered as a backcountry trail, so preferrably hikers should travel in groups to avoid animal encounter. When I went there the first time, I didn’t think much about it. I thought this hiking trail would be a popular trail because of those two spectacular waterfalls and decided to hike solo. However, you will not see many visitors at all. In fact, when I went there around noon hours on July 30, I only saw two hikers for the entire trail of 4km. That was kinda surprise to me!
Sylvia Falls hiking trail can basically divided into two sections. The first half is essentially a swamp, with lots of muddy areas! A few wood bridges are placed above the swamp for hikers, and one of them is almost broken and slanting one way (not sure how long this particular foot bridge is gonna last, as of July 30, 2012). Some logs are also placed along muddy areas; however, those logs are not always sufficient, so some “strategic” maneuvering may be required. This section of trail is also covered with plants as tall as 4 feet high! You can tell the trail is not frequently used because the trail is sometimes covered by these tall plants. Fortunately, when I hiked there, it had been sunny for a few days prior, so the leaves and giant ferns were dry and my clothes stayed dry as well. :D One interesting thing to see is tiny frogs (about 1 inch in size) jumping around in the swamp!!! :-)
The second half consists of a few up and down hill hikes, until you reach the falls. Some of them are steep; some are rocky. It’s totally different from the flat muddy trail in the first half. You’ll need water to get through, since you may be sweating like hell after all that hike. I noticed one segment on this second half of trail was completely blocked/obscured by fallen trees for a distance of about 2 meters (as of July 30, 2012). If you don’t look closely, you may NOT find the correct trail and it will appear you end up in a dead end with the trail vanishing in front of your eyes. Most of the time, the trail lies closer to the river side near the cliff edge. If you do end up in a dead end, look for trail near the cliff edge.
Things to bring:
- Water, water, and water!
- Camera—do NOT, under any circumstance, forget to bring your camera!
- Trail info, such as this article on this site
Hiking Trail Map & Driving Direction
Starting from Clearwater Visitor Information Centre (located at the intersection of Yellowhead Hwy 5 and Clearwater Valley Road), drive west along Yellowhead Hwy 5 for 1km, and then turn right at the first intersection to Old North Thompson Hwy for another 1km. Immediately after crossing a bridge, turn righ to Camp 2 Road. Drive 700m on Camp 2 Road and turn right at the furcation onto a gravel road. This gravel road follows along Clearwater River. Drive on this gravel road for about 40km to the end and you’ll see a parking lot and a sign “Sylvia Falls 4km” at the beginning of Sylvia Falls hiking trail.
Driving direction is indicated by Green Arrow on the following map (click EXTERNAL LINK below to view map; A = Visitor Centre, B = Sylvia Falls Trailhead).