Kennedy Falls Hike in North Vancouver
Kennedy Falls via the Big Cedar trail is a hike to a beautiful, wild waterfall in North Vancouver. The Kennedy Falls hike is 10km / 6.2 miles return with an elevation gain of 150m / 492 ft. It is located in North Vancouver on the west side of Lynn Creek which is the opposite side of the creek that the Norvan Falls Hike is on. You will also be happy to know that Kennedy Falls is dog friendly!
The Kennedy Falls trailhead is only a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver so it is very convenient for anyone staying downtown! The trail took us around 4.5 hours to complete, which included a half hour stop at the waterfall for a snack and to take some photos.
We found this hike harder than we expected to. It starts off on a shared bikers and walkers gravel trail, however at around 1km in the trail changes from maintained to unmaintained. This is where it becomes a little more difficult. For more information on trail itself, scroll down to the Kennedy Falls Trail section.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to do the Kennedy Falls Hike as well as details on the difficulty and how to find the trailhead.
If you are love waterfalls, check out the Best 16 Waterfalls Near Vancouver!
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🥾 Hike Stats
Distance: 10km / 6.2 miles
Elevation: 150 metres / 492 ft
From Vancouver: 30mins
Dog Friendly: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead
📍 Where is the Kennedy Falls Hike Located?
The Kennedy Falls Hike is located in Mount Fromme in North Vancouver about 30 minutes from Downtown Vancouver.
Where do you park for the Kennedy Falls Hike
For the Kennedy Falls trailhead, you will need to park in the Mount Fromme Parking lot on Mountain Highway, shown in the below map. The carpark is often busy, especially on the weekends as this is a popular mountain biking area. Luckily, there is pretty fast turnover of people in this carpark. If the carpark is completely full, you only need to wait in line for a 5-10 mins or so and you will soon get a spot. We had around 3 cars waiting in front of us on a Saturday morning at around 11am. We only waited around 10 mins for someone to leave and give us their spot.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to get to Kennedy Falls Trail via Public Transport
You don’t have to drive to get to the trailhead. If you don’t have a car, you can still reach the Kennedy Falls Hike trailhead using public transport. From West Pender Street in downtown Vancouver, catch the #210 bus to Lynn Valley. You will need to get off at EB McNair Dr @ Tourney Rd and continue by foot up Mountain Highway. This trip will take a little over 1 hour to reach the trailhead.
Alternatively, you can hire a Modo or an Evo which are car sharing services that you can use for just a few hours or an entire day. This is something we used a lot when we first arrived in Vancouver. Please note that you do need a BC drivers licence in order to use these services.
🕐 How Long Does the Kennedy Falls Hike Take?
This will depend on your hiking ability and level. If you are a ninja, or in other words, if you love scrambling up and over rocks, roots and tree stumps and are somewhat good at it, this hike will take you less time than it took us.
When we did this trail, it was also raining and a bit slippery so this would have added extra time to our hike as well.
On average, the Kennedy Falls Trail will take around 4 hours return to the parking lot.
🥾 How Hard is the Kennedy Falls Trail?
The Kennedy Falls trail was more difficult that we were expecting. If you compare it to Norvan Falls, which is a hike to a waterfall located on the other side of the river, it is probably around 40% harder. The reason for this is that unlike the Norvan Falls trail, Kennedy Falls is unmaintained trail for about 70% of the hike.
This means that the trail is extremely muddy and slippery with quite a bit of scrambling over trees, rocks and roots.
🐶 Can Dogs do the Kennedy Falls Trail
The Kennedy Falls Trail is dog friendly, however on leash only.
🕐 When is the Best Time to Hike the Kennedy Falls Trail
If you are catching public transport to get to the trailhead, I would say anytime is a great time to hike Kennedy Falls excluding sunrise and sunset. As the forest is so dense, you would not get any worthwhile golden hour light at the falls.
On a weekend, if you are driving, you are going to want to either beat everyone else to the parking lot or time it so that you arrive just as the morning bike riders and hikers are finishing up, so perhaps around 11am – 12pm. This can be tricky and you can be waiting up to 30 minutes for a spot so I recommend trying to get to the parking lot as early as possible in the morning (7am).
Alternatively, if you have time during the week, you will have more of a chance getting a parking spot.
Dave and I love doing waterfall hikes on rainy days during Spring or Fall. The reason for this is that we probably aren’t going to be seeing the sun much on this hike anyway because it is in the forest the whole way. If you decide to hike on a rainy day, don’t forget to bring along a good rain jacket!
🥾 Hiking Boots or Trail Runners
Both Dave and I wore our hiking boots on the Kennedy Falls hike which were great because it was raining a little, the trail was muddy and extra slippery. My Oboz Bridger Mid-B Dry Boots were perfect for this trail.
On a dry day, trail runners could also work well, however you will want to make sure that they have lots of grip and a nice sturdy sole for hiking on all of the tree roots.
🌲 Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls Trail
The trailhead and the beginning of the trail
Kennedy Falls is a 10km out and back, fairly difficult hike. We say difficult due to the amount of slippery roots and mud along the trail. The trail takes you past the Big Cedar Tree followed by Kennedy Falls.
The trail itself starts off really easy and then gets harder, with more and more roots and rocks to climb over. If you love complex trails with a big of scrambling, you will really enjoy yourself on this one! The Kennedy Falls Trail is not all that family friendly for young kids, but for kids a little bit older it would be a really fun adventure for them! We actually saw 2 small pugs at the waterfall and were surprised that they had made it all the way. If the pugs can make the hike, then perhaps your kids can too, but we will leave that decision up to you.
From the carpark, you will need to walk up the road past the toilets and up to the Fromme Mountain Recreational sign (pictured above). This is where you will start your walk. These are the only toilets on the trail so go now if you need to.
Be mindful that the first part of the trail is shared with mountain bikers so keep to the right. After walking up the wide trail for a bit, you will need to turn right down the Cedar Tree Trail. The trail here becomes a little narrower but is still maintained trail.
Soon you will reach an intersection. Continue straight/right to stay on the Cedar Tree Trail.
The next intersection you will take is at the Kirkford Bike Trail where you will turn right, staying on the Cedar Tree Trail. From here the trail is not maintained and starts to become a little harder.
The trail – reaching the more complex section
Although the beginning of the hike is fairly easy, you will find that it becomes more and more complicated as you walk. Throughout the hike, you will cross quite a few streams. Some of these are not too deep but some you will need to navigate by using the stepping stones. As well as the stream crossings, there are mud crossings so whatever you do, don’t wear your favourite white shoes!
As you travel further into the forest, you will come across the most florescent green forest. The forest is very similar to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park!
A bit over halfway along the trail you will climb down a bit of a complicated root section. There are ropes here to assist. I want to quickly emphasise how muddy this trail was! We did do this hike on a bit of a rainy day, but can imagine the mud sticking around for a while. So be prepared to get your hands dirty and have a lot of fun!
The Big Cedar Tree
Shortly after you will reach to the famous Big Cedar Tree which is estimate to be at least 600 years old. It is massive, especially in comparison to the other trees! At the Big Cedar, you will feel like you want to walk around to the right. Don’t be fooled, the trail goes around the left of the tree.
Reaching Kennedy Falls!
After the tree, its about 1.5km further to the falls. Once you reach the falls, you will realise the hike through the mud was worth it! They are fantastic. We actually met a couple of little pugs at the waterfall which we were quite shocked about! They must have done so well to navigate the slippery roots and mud with their little legs. Enjoy the stunning waterfall and have a snack before starting the trek back to the car. Don’t worry, it always feels shorter on the way back!
🚶♀️ Other Hikes in the Area!
There are loads of amazing hikes in North Vancouver! If you are staying in Vancouver for a few days, why not add another of these awesome hikes to your bucket list?
Dog Mountain – Mount Seymour
Distance: 5km / 3.1 miles | Elevation: 150m / 492 ft | Time: 2.5hrs | Level: Easy
Dog Mountain is an easy hike with absolutely gorgeous views, especially at sunrise and sunset overlooking downtown Vancouver, Stanley Park and the Fraser Valley! You can hike dog mountain all year around!
Hollyburn Peak – Cypress Mountain
Distance: 6.9km / 4.2 miles | Elevation: 415m / 1,361 ft | Time: 2.5-3.5 hours | Level: Moderate to Challenging
The views from Hollyburn Peak are insane! Absolutely gorgeous! However, you will have to work for those views because it is a STEEP climb! This trail is located in Cypress Provincial Park which is around a 40 minute drive from the Kennedy Falls trailhead. You can hike to Hollyburn in all seasons but our favourite time to hike it is during Winter. Don’t forget your micro spikes or snow shoes! 😉
Lynn Canyon Loop
Distance: 2.6km / 1.6miles | Elevation: 108m / 354 ft | Time: 45 mins – 1 hour | Level: Moderate
The Lynn Canyon Loop is a great family friendly trail that takes you through a beautiful forest. Along the way, you will pass a really awesome suspension bridge, waterfalls and forest pools that are popular for cold plunges amongst the locals.
💭 Our Thoughts
We loved the hike to the Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls! It was a real muddy adventure but a lot of fun! If you do plan on doing this hike in Winter or Spring, we recommend that you bring along some micro-spikes, just in case the trail is icy. If the trail is icy, you may want to reconsider doing this one and trying out the Norvan Falls hike instead, as it is a lot less complex when it comes to navigating rooms and crossing streams. The Norvan Falls Hike is a 14km easy but long hike located in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver.
Hike Packing List
This is an example of what we were and bring on our hikes around Vancouver. You can also check out our full list of hiking gear! If you are hiking the Kennedy Falls trail in Summer, you should also make sure you have some bear spray and bug spray because the bears and bugs will both be out and about!
- Hiking Boots or Trail Runners – My favourite boots are the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
- Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Some great hiking socks are the Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
- Micro Spikes – During Winter, you may want to bring along a pair of micro spikes if the trail is icy. We have a pair each in our backpacks on every hike we do in the Winter and they have come in handy more often than not.
- Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
- Fleece – My favourite fleece is the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip.
- Puffer Jacket – We love our puffer jackets to keep warm at the beginning of a walk and then once we are at the viewpoint. Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
- Rain Jacket – Check the weather before you go, but if there is any rain in the forecast we recommend bringing along raincoats which can also double as a wind breaker.
- Beanie – We never go anywhere in Winter, Spring and Fall without our beanies! Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
- Hiking Poles – if you prefer hiking with poles.
- Safety Items such as a first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, headlamps, a navigation device and bear spray.
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- Gold Creek Falls Hike – Golden Ears Provincial Park
- 16 Incredible Waterfalls Near Vancouver That You Need to Visit
- 21 Best Views in Vancouver
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