Waterfalls of British Columbia

Book Review. Photos by Tony Greenfield


"If the great outdoors is the cathedral in which we worship, then the waterfall is the altar we bow down before," writes Tony Greenfield in his new guide book, Waterfalls of British Columbia; surprisingly the first book in Canada to focus on the natural wonders that our province has hundreds of. Greenfield writes with passion and eloquence about one hundred of the falls he has hiked or bushwhacked to in his wilderness travels around BC.

“Even with the great scenery we have in BC, waterfalls are great magnets for people to go to," he says, "A lot of our parks are organized around waterfalls." The full-colour book is divided into sections of the province, and within those sections Greenfield explains how to get to each waterfall, has highlights and anecdotes about them, and where to find nearby facilities or campgrounds. All accompanied with gorgeous photos, shot by the author or other photographers.

"I started the book back in the 1990s. I was looking to do another book project, after a hiking guide, and one night I literally woke up screaming, 'Waterfalls! Waterfalls trail guide!"


Greenfield grew up in one of the flattest parts of England, studied geography and graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1967. He immediately set off to hitch-hike around the world, with the full intention of ending up back in England. "But, to make a long story short," he says, "I got my foot caught in the door of the Sunshine Coast, and fell in love with it. Right from the first day, and I've been here 40 years." Although he also travelled a great deal around BC as a naturalist and with Whiskeyjack Reforestation. "I know every corner of BC," he says, "because of the tree-planting business. BC is such a huge place - twice the size of western Europe. A lot of these waterfalls are in very remote places."


He started Whiskeyjack Nature Tours in 2003, gives both nature and waterfall tours in BC, and takes bird-watchers further afield to Panama, Costa Rica and other destinations. He has had a life-long interest in birds, is a long-time member of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society, and knows most of the species in western Canada. "I have a wide interest in natural history,” he says, “so I always like to put a name on things whether it's birds, or botany or animals."


We asked Tony to pick three of his favourite waterfalls. “If I had to mention just three, I'd go for the Monkman Cascades, Keyhole Falls, and the foot of Helmcken Falls.”


Helmcken Falls is probably the best known of these and lies in Wells Gray Park, in central BC north of Clearwater and accessible from Highway 5. The waterfall is one of Canada's highest single plunge falls, and is fed by the swift-flowing Murtle River, which shoots over a volcanic cliff dropping 141 metres to a deep, misty pool below, then again to smaller falls, before flowing through a canyon and on to the Clearwater River. There's camping in the park and facilities nearby.


"Keyhole Falls is really interesting,” says Greenfield. “It lies 100 km northwest of Pemberton, and it's an absolutely unbelievable major waterfall on the Lillooet River; but at the same time hardly anyone has ever seen the waterfall. To get any kind of view of it you have to literally bushwhack up the canyon from below the falls. However, when you get there it's absolutely mind-boggling. The water falls out of a keyhole canyon into a humungous punch-bowl.”

Meager Creek Hotsprings is a wonderful place to camp and relax, and is about 10 kilometres before the falls, on a logging road that can be rough on cars, and has been known to wash out in heavy rains.

One of the least viewed falls, and perhaps Greenfield's favourite is the Monkman Cascades (left). It is also one of the more difficult ones to get to. “Monkman Falls is a series of about eight or nine cascades in Monkman Provincial Park, which is in the northern Rockies south of Tumbler Ridge, and it is absolutely spectacular. It's also unique because of the geology there."

There's no better recommendation to go there, than Tony Greenfield's own quote from the book: “If I die tomorrow, I will die happy, for I have visited the Monkman Cascades.”


Waterfalls of British Columbia is a beautiful work for a guide book, with superb photography. It is quite obviously a labour of love.

Published by Harbour Publishing. 2009. 240 pages.

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