Crystal Falls – Table of Contents
- Hike Introduction
- Hike Statistics
- Map and Elevation
- Crystal Falls Video
- Hiking Route Description
- Directions and Parking
- Hike Rating
- Free PDF Download
Crystal Falls Hike Intro
Crystal Falls is an easy 6 km hike in Coquitlam which takes you up alongside the Upper Coquitlam River. The hike ends up at the scenic Crystal Falls waterfall on Pritchett Creek.
This hike is at a low elevation and can be hiked year-round. But hiking in the summer gives you the chance to bring your bathing suit to swim in the river or take a dip in the canyon pools just above Crystal Falls. The water is shallow through most of the Coquitlam River and Pritchett Creek. On a hot day a dip in the water is hard to beat.
The trail is also children and dog-friendly. The only downside is that the Crystal Falls Trail can be muddy through much of the year. If there has been recent rainfall come prepared to get a bit wet.
Crystal Falls Hike Stats
Distance: 6.5 km
Elevation Gain: 75 m
Highest Point: 125 m
Time Needed: 2 Hours
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Est. Driving Time from Vancouver: 40 Minutes
Trailhead Coordinates: 49.295711, -122.770770
Crystal Falls Hike Map and Elevation
Crystal Falls Video
Crystal Falls Hiking Route
To start the hike, find parking on Karley Crescent and locate the trailhead going into the forest. Walk down the slope from the trailhead into the trees. You will quickly come to a signboard and the Coquitlam River will be on your left. Watch out for any signs posted here about recent bear or cougar (link) sightings.
The Crystal Falls Trail (aka the Upper Coquitlam River Trail) is wide and well-groomed, making it easy to follow. It is also a popular trail for mountain bikers, so make sure to share the trail.
Within a few minutes, you’ll come to an opening down on the water, with houses on the other side. On a hot summer day, you may find people floating here on inflatables. Aside from sunbathing humans you can also spot spawning salmon, minnows, sculpin and crayfish in the Coquitlam River. Black bears, beavers, raccoons and coyotes can also be found in the area.
Interesting fact: The name of the Coquitlam River comes from the Kwikwetlem First Nation. “Kwikwetlem means “Red Fish Up The River,” in reference to the salmon that have historically travelled up the Coquitlam River for centuries. “[Source]
Keep following the trail. It will flow up and down, and left and right through the beautiful forest. In sections the trees will be dense and covered in moss. Sections of the trail provide a stark contrast to the residential neighbourhood the hike begins in. On a sunny day, the light falling through the canopy makes for a serene walk to the waterfall.
Keep following the trail north, with the Coquitlam River off to your left. As you continue along the trail, there will be several streams to navigate over, and as mentioned it can get muddy outside of the dry heat of summer. Around 1 km into the hike you will come to a small marsh on your right with plenty of skunk cabbage.
2 kilometers into the hike there is an offshoot trail on your left marked by an orange flag. There you will find an old pickup truck that used to be intact but has been vandalized over the years. It’s mostly just rubbish and broken glass, so there’s not much to look at anymore.
Continuing along the trail, you will cross over a stream. There are several streams to hop over along the way to Crystal Falls. From this final stream it’s just a short distance to reach the waterfall.
After 3 km and under 1 hour’s time, you should reach Crystal Falls. You can walk right up to the falls to get a good view. There are plenty of large rocks to find a spot, sit down and take a break.
If Pritchett Creek is passable, you’ll notice the trail continues north on the other side. It continues along the Coquitlam River for a few more kilometers and connects to a few other trails in the area.
There is also a trail leading up to the right of Crystal Falls. You can climb up to get a view of the water as it tumbles its way down towards the Coquitlam River. As with all waterfalls, stay away from the edges and be mindful of the current which could sweep you over the falls.
At the top of Crystal Falls, around the corner, you’ll find a small, scenic canyon where Pritchett Creek has carved its way.
After you’ve had a break and enjoyed the waterfall, retrace your steps back to your car.
Download the PDF version of this guide for offline use
Directions and Parking
Coming from either the Lougheed Highway or the Barnet Highway, head north on Pinetree Way in Coquitlam. Drive past Douglas College and Town Center Park and turn right onto David Ave. Drive another few minutes and turn left onto Shaughnessy Street. You will come to Karley Crescent, where you can find parking.
Google Map directions are here.
Outdoor Vancouver and Reader’s Hike Rating
- Variety of the terrain - 65%65%
- Views and scenery - 85%85%
- Not too crowded - 65%65%
- Overall 'fun factor' - 80%80%
Crystal Falls is an easy hike through a pleasant forest. The waterfall is worthy of the hike, and is a great weekend option year-round. It’s also a great hike to bring the kids and dogs on. On the downside, the trail can get busy during the summer, and is muddy for much of the rest of the year. Leave your rating using the stars, or the comments section below: