A Toddler Waterfall Hunt
Back in September I visited family and friends on Vancouver Island for a few days. On several of these days I organized some adventures with my friends who could bring along a toddler. Waterfall hunts are great, toddlers are great, toddler waterfall hunts are doubly great.
Today I wanted to take you on a toddler waterfall hunt in Ladysmith down Holland Creek Trail to find the Crystal Falls.
My Friend Julie
As you may know, if you’re a regular here at #ourRADhouse, I was a cheerleader for a decade. For a few of these years I cheered with a wonderful young lady named Julie.
She’s an amazing young woman who I look up to, even though she’s a few years younger than me. Julie never ceases to amaze me with her perseverance, strength, awareness, generosity, and she’s a very hard worker and never seems to stop impressing me.
Did you know she’s shaved her head for cancer? More than once! And she’s becoming a midwife. Seriously, Julie is #Goals. Accomplishing things that I always wished I could do. She’s barely just begun her life, I am so excited to see what my friend is going to accomplish in the future. It’s very bright for her.
This is a major brag, my friend is amazing. I don’t have very many, and I really appreciate the few that I do. We don’t get to see each other very often, and I was very VERY excited to see her and happy to be able to go on an adventure together.
Plus, she’s friends with Momma Bear, who also came on this waterfall adventure. Along with little 2 year old Zoi who came with Julie, there were 5 of us on on the trail laughing and playing together.
Driving North to Ladysmith on Highway 1 from Victoria, you’re going to come to an intersection at N Davis Road. You can’t miss it, it’s got Dairy Queen, McDonalds, the Co-op… It’s a popular spot to stop for a treat on the way home. You’re going to turn left onto Davis and right onto Dogwood Drive. That’ll be the first road on your right.
Follow along Dogwood Drive and on the left you’ll see a small pull in parking lot. That’s the Holland Creek Trail parking lot. It’s not too big, it doesn’t take long to get to off of the highway.
Here in the parking lot you’ll find a map, trash can, notice board and even a port-a-potty. Or at least there was one there when we went. I try to never go in those, but if you need to, it’s there. I’d suggest going before hitting up the waterfall. The running water may make you need to go.
Holland Creek Trail
The trail head is easy to follow from the parking lot. Holland Creek Trail is a 5.8km loop that passes a waterfall and 2 dams. We only went to the waterfall, making our hike an in & out, not a loop.
Crystal Falls is at the 2km marker. You can gain the best vantage point from 1 of 2 side trails directly after the 2km marker on the right.
Walking from the parking lot you’ll quickly head down a hill, turn one switchback and walk over a bridge. 4 bridges actually. The trail is fairly easy to walk, a few hills to hike up and stairs along the way.
There are plenty of things to check out along the trail. Foliage, mushrooms and fungi, trees that have been hollowed out and more. Be aware of any animal poop along the trail, it’ll be the first warning you’ll get of any animals you need to be aware of.
Holland Creek is fairly popular, but it doesn’t scare all the forest animals away. Keep children close when you notice signs of animals.
When you pass the 2km marker, you’ll see two side trails on the right, and a switchback staircase further along the trail. If you keep on the trail you do come up to a lookout area with a fence that lets you partially see the waterfall.
The view isn’t that great, so I suggest heading down the side trail I mention and getting down to the water. You can cross along the rocks and walk towards the waterfall.
Crystal Falls pours into a pool that is a popular swimming destination. There is even a rope along the rocks beside the waterfall that, those who are brave enough, climb up and jump from.
The water is cold, Momma Bear said there was a steep drop off in the water. You can see her in the photo above. The viewing point from the trail is above/behind her atop a cliff in an alcove not viewable from any of my photos.
Toddler Play Time
Hiking Holland Creek Trail with toddlers was a lot of fun. Zoi was shy, as to be expected when introduced to new people and taken into the forest. Gregory, a regular nature boy, encouraged Zoi the whole way.
He often asked to hold her hand and it was the most adorable thing I’ve seen since he held the door open for McKinley to come into the Enchanted Forest Little Pig huts. Gregory’s such a little gentleman.
We started playing “I’m gonna get you”, chasing Gregory and Zoi along the pathway when they seemed to be getting bored with walking and needed an energy boost.
Quickly Gregory starting being the chaser, and Zoi got into it as well. Julie scooped and sped Zoi up to get Gregory faster than he could get away and it was amazing listening to two toddlers belly laugh in the middle of the forest.
Nothing sweeter than laughter of children.
Playing at Crystal Falls
At the falls, we all stopped for a mini picnic of drinks and snacks. Watching Gregory and Zoi trade snacks back and forth reminded me of being a kid and trading lunches in school.
This day kept getting sweeter and sweeter, I think I got a tooth ache.
After some snacks, we settled along the water in the rocks and started looking for fish and frogs. I knew there probably wasn’t going to be any, but it got playtime started and soon the kids were getting wet.
Each had sticks and were moving rocks around. Gregory, very much a boy, quickly took to throwing rocks into the water out of the way so they could search for animals better. However that just turned into him throwing rocks into the water and that was okay. He threw it away from where we were sitting.
Zoi really got into the water, taking off her socks and shoes for a few minutes to dip her toes in even! The water was cold, it didn’t last long, but that little girl had a blast. Her smile is so contagious, I’m so glad she got to come along.
Starting to get cold, we realized we’d been at Crystal Falls for over an hour and it was not only lunch time, but nap time.
Picking the kids up to carry them back across the creek to the trail, they started to feel heavy and we knew it was indeed nap time.
I don’t think Zoi was put down for a moment on the 2km walk back to the car. Gregory was on my shoulders for about 2 minutes, and then was quickly moved to my arms as he was falling asleep.
Now, I’ll let you know that Julie carried Zoi up all the hills on the way TO the falls. I also found out she continued to go to her Kickboxing class after she got home that evening. #Champ! I was complaining of being sore and she went to Skillz Canada Kickboxing. Like I said, she never ceases to amaze me.
There were a few other hikers along the trail who complimented us on our endurance, saying they were struggling and couldn’t imagine carrying a toddler. We were moving very slow, but it was pretty impressive. Go us!
Let’s get to the best part of every travel post, the photos. These are great because we get to see some toddler interaction. I also really liked this trip because Momma Bear and I managed to get a few photos together with a waterfall background. We have been on many adventures together, but we rarely get photos together.
Before You Go
I hope you enjoyed coming along our waterfall adventure to Crystal Falls with the kids. It was just like old times being together with Julie and Momma Bear, only it was completely different because we weren’t kids anymore. We had the kids.
Looking for another adventure on Vancouver island? Check out the Goats on the Roof in Coombs, or the Wacky Woods in Fanny Bay. Drive up North more and check out Cathedral Grove, and while you’re there, drive a bit further and discover Hole in the Wall.