Clearwater National Park

Day 14
Friday July 29th

Lots of waterfalls planned for today as that seems to be the main attraction of Clearwater National Park, these should be different from the four we've already seen otherwise I could get lynched. I've drawn a basic map up with distances between all the stopping points, only the last stop at the very top of the road is more than 10 miles from anything else so there shouldn't be too much travelling time.

Spahata Falls

First off was Spahata falls a couple of miles up the road before we'd even passed the park enterance. The river above the falls had cut a deep gorge but then just fell away to the valley floor.

View away from the falls

You could walk around the cliff edge on the right to the viewpoint, after that they didn't bother with fences.

Clearwater Valley Overlook

We stopped at the park entrance notice boards to check the maps and any information, not a manned post just a couple of large boards. Next stop was Clearwater Valley Overlook off a side road to the left. You had to peer through the trees to get a view but you could see miles up the valley.

That cave is 75m high but only 25m deep

Clearwater Valley

From our stopping point it seemed like the road carried on and the map confirmed that but it was a dirt track steep and full of pot holes. Having started up it I didn't want to turn around even though it seemed to be leading nowhere. Eventually it popped out at another viewpoint higher up and then looped back to the main road. That's the first badly maintained track I've come across in Canada.

Green Mountain Lookout

Another mile or so up the road was the turn off for Green Mountain Lookout. There had been a warning in the guidebook that this road was particularly difficult and should be avoided by low cars.

It started out fine but then turned into a series of tortuous ruts, potholes, mud and hairpin bends, often all at the same time. You daren't stop but if you went too fast you could lose an axle. Passing oncoming traffic was the worst as that forced you to either stop or move off the least worst part of the track.

I was glad we had a relatively high car and was astounded when we met 30' camper vans coming down towards us.

We broke for lunch (we'd had a late start) at the lookout post which had a 360 degree view of the countryside and a circular map showing all the ponts of interest.

Dawson Falls

The car park for Dawson falls was not as close to the falls as I expected, it ended up being a 5-10 minute hike through mosquito infested forest to the lookout point. These falls are 50m wide and several metres high.

They are apparently more immpressive from the other side which will require a 20 minute hike.


Just below Dawson falls was this old bridge with a parking spot just around the bend. I tried to persuade the others to go on a hike up river to Dawson falls but I think they'd had enough already, oh well only two more waterfalls to go today.

The falls by the bridge were't named but the bridge made an interesting backdrop.

We stopped at this bridge again on the way home Whilst the others stayed in the car I walked up the river mindfull of snakes as the path was more broken log and leaping from tuft to tuft than track. This may not have been the correct starting place for the walk to Dawson falls after all. I had to dash back to the car when the heavens opened.



Helmckon Falls

Enthusiasm was definitely dropping by the time it came for the huge 5 minute hike to these falls but the spectacle was worth it as they were the most impressive so far. At150m high with a large flow of water into a circular basin they were a sight to behold.

At least they all agreed it had been worth getting out of the car to see this waterfall.


Clearwater Lake

20 miles of this

For this view

Back down the gravel track always aware of the stones being chucked up by other cars speeding along who obviously don't care about scratching hire cars.

The last stop of the day was up a 20 mile dirt track. Clearwater falls are only 1m high but 500m wide over a lip of lava. Looking benign they are in fact so treacherous the boat launchway had to be moved further up the lake as so many boats were swept overt he falls killing the occupants.

We had to park in and wander through a campsite to get to the falls and the best views appeared to be from directly behind some tents. There was a viewing area further down but the falls were really too far away to get a sense of the size.

The falls don't look so impressive from here

Before supper Jude and I nipped down to Clearwater town for provisions. Since we would have left the chalet before we did the rafting we needed to buy towels. the first supermarket felt like a Tescos from the 1960s, cramped and dingy. We bought a few things there before managing to find a slightly more modern affair down the road with helpfull staff and cheap towels. I insisted we splash out and spend the extra few bucks for large soft towels rather than scrawny ones.

After supper in the cafe we enjoyed another round of crazy golf and mosquito swatting.


©2005 Rob Hayward