By Colin Hughes
UPDATE: There are reports that the road to Christie Falls is closed about 2 km before the parking lot. If you plan to visit the falls, be prepared for an additional 4 km round-trip hike.
As we came off the ropes at the bottom of the trail and rounded the corner to the base of the 40+ metre (130+ ft) falls, the wind grabbed the falling water and showered us with this cool mountain liquid, totally soaking us.
Saturday was wide open and we were looking for adventure. We were drawn to the description “ropes required to descend” and, after consulting our Thompson Okanagan Backroad Mapbook for the route, our day was set. Christie Falls was to be our destination. A series of logging roads off West Side Road leads for 28 km (17.4 mi) to a dead end parking area at the trailhead. Which roads? Well that’s part of the challenge and allure of this remote spot, so grab your Mapbook and get ready to explore.
Stepping out of the vehicle at the trailhead was surreal. Thousands of burnt and charred trees from the 2009 Terrace Mountain fire stood as eerie reminders of the event. The whistling wind and the cry of coyotes only added to the mystic feeling hanging over the area.
The trail to the actual falls is relatively short, at just over one kilometer, but it does drop approximately 110 m (360 ft) from the trailhead to the top of the falls. While well-defined, the trail has numerous blow downs that hikers need to climb over or duck under to continue on their way.
At the top of the falls, which likely offer more of a challenge during spring runoff, you can cross and climb to viewpoints overlooking the falls and the valley, and there is a great cliff edge to step out on for selfies. The trail does continue from here but it is not marked.
But we came here to get to the bottom, and it is a steep trail down the side of the mountain to reach the base of the falls. The “ropes to descend” were absolutely necessary and judging by their condition, they are not maintained by BC Parks – use at your own risk. The wind had us showered in water as we reached the base and ran on loose scree to get behind the falls and out of the water’s path. Small caves are tucked in and around the waterfall and we were able to do some exploring. Be aware, climbers use this cliff face so stay clear of the areas where there are ropes hanging. During our time at the bottom, a descending climber knocked loose some rocks from above.
After we had checked everything out, it was all uphill from here – back up the side of the falls with the ropes for assistance and the climb back up the trail to the parking area. While we met only one couple heading out on our way down to the falls, a number of cars were arriving at the parking lot as we left. Cars can make it in but it will be very slow drive due to road conditions. I was thankful we took my brother-in-law’s four-wheel drive, high clearance pickup.
Christie Falls make a great daytrip and half the fun is finding the right route through a maze of logging roads. I’ll give you one piece of advice: as you get close to the turnoff to the final road to the parking area, watch for a sign reading “Christie Falls.” It’s homemade and hard to see but it might save you some backtracking. No sign, wrong road. Have fun exploring!
To fully appreciate all the recreation opportunities found in the region, pick yourself up a Backroad Mapbook by ordering online or using our store locator to find a Backroad Mapbooks retailer near you.
Did you know we are currently holding our 25th Anniversary ATV Adventure Contest? We’ve partnered up with Radioworld Central to give away 3 prize packages with a combined value of over $3,000! Simply click the link below to enter.