The Kennedy Falls hike in North Vancouver is ideal if you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day in Vancouver. Since you’re in the forest most of the time, you’re pretty protected by the drizzle that characterised this part of Canada from October onwards.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for an easy-to-moderate hike near Vancouver. Another great thing about the Kennedy Falls and Big Cedar trail in North Vancouver is that it’s one of the hikes accessible on public transit, so you don’t need a car.
This hike takes you past the Big Cedar, which is deserving of that name, and over to Kennedy Falls which is pretty impressive too.
This was one of the first few hikes I did in Vancouver and that list is much longer now! However, it’s still one of my top picks if you’re looking for the best hikes in autumn in Vancouver.
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Kennedy Falls & The Big Cedar trail Vancouver
On the Kennedy Falls and Big Cedar hike near Vancouver, you’ll come across an absolutely massive, 600+ year-old red cedar tree. You can end the hike at this point, or you can continue on to Kennedy Falls (which I’d recommend doing!).
I hiked this trail in March and it was quiet with only a few people passing by.
In the summer months, it’s likely to be busier but it’s one of the quieter hikes on the North Shore since you’re not getting a big open view at the end.
The trail is accessible all year round, but expect some snow during winter.
In mid-March there was still quite a bit of snow in places, but hiking shoes or boots made it easily passable without Yaktrax.
Kennedy Falls hike and the Big Cedar
- Difficulty: Moderate; uneven terrain
- Distance: 10km
- Time: 3-4 hours
- Distance from Vancouver: About 30 minutes by car. Also accessible by bus as a transit friendly hike in Vancouver.
- Kennedy Falls Trail Map
The trail to Kennedy Falls and Big Cedar doesn’t have a huge amount of elevation but the trail itself is quite rough. If you’re used to North Shore hiking you’ll know what I mean!
Expect a lot of gnarly tree roots, rocks and uneven terrain. Also, make sure to keep your eyes open for the ribbons and trail markers to keep on the right trail.
Once you’re by the parking lot on Mountain highway, continue walking uphill, past the info kiosk and the outhouses.
Cross past the gate and continue walking uphill another 500m, keeping an eye out for a trail leaving the road on the right hand side and a sign saying “Cedar Tree Trail”.
If you’ve walked to a bend in the road, you’ve gone too far!
Keep listening for mountain bikes as you walk on the Cedar Tree Trail and into the forest and remember to jump out of the way.
Most of them will slow down and let you know how many are behind them but it’s best if you get yourself out of the way.
After about 500m from where you turned off the gravel road, there’s a junction. Turn right here to stay on the Cedar Tree trail and from this point, it’s hikers only so no need to worry about more bikes.
Almost immediately after the junction, you’ll cross a bridge and then reach the first of a few gullies along the trail.
This is where there used to a bridge when the area was a logging route but there no longer is. Keep an eye on the trail markers which take you left to stay on the old logging road.
It’s quite easy to end up mistakenly following a faint path so look up for the markers rather than down.
After about 1.5 hours you’ll come to the Big Cedar Tree. This was one of the only trees not to be logged in the area and is estimated to be around 600 years old!
Kennedy Falls is about 1.5km away from the Big Cedar. To continue, pick up the trail behind and to the left of the Big Cedar.
You’ll climb up quite steeply on a narrow path for a few minutes before joining the logging road again.
The road gains a little elevation and then curves to the left as you head up the Kennedy Creek valley.
Keep to the trail as it crosses over a landslide and descends towards the creek. At the creek, walk upstream a few meters for the best view of the falls.
It’s very chilly and dark in here since it gets very little sunlight and there is a lot of spray from the falls.
Enjoy with some snacks before heading back the way you came.
What to know before doing the Kennedy Falls Hike
- Check that the trail is open. Many Provincial Parks in BC are currently closed. You can see the full list of open BC Parks here.
- Always practice leave no trace ethics. Not sure what those are? Get a refresher here.
- Carry bear spray with you, particularly on higher elevation on North Vancouver hikes & West Vancouver. Get more bear safety tips here!
- Wondering what to pack for Vancouver day hikes? Here’s a hiking packing list!
- Choose quieter trails, particularly nowadays. Hike early morning or mid-week if you can.
- Refresh your memory about hiking save with BC Adventure Smart.
- Don’t leave home without your 10 essentials. They could save your life!
How to get to Big Cedar and Kennedy Falls Trail
The trailhead to Kennedy Falls is in North Vancouver by Mount Fromme. Navigate to the Mount Fromme parking lot which will likely be full of mountain bikers. Drive carefully just in case one pops out of the forest on to the road!
For full Kennedy Falls directions click here.
If the Mount Fromme Parking lot is full (as it often can be) then there are a few other places you can park nearby.
- Public Transport: The Kennedy Falls trail is one of the trails accessible by public transport in Vancouver. Take the #210 bus to the stop on Mountain Highway at Coleman St and continue walking up Mountain Highway to the trailhead. If you’re coming from downtown Vancouver, this bus stops at Burrard Station, so it’s easy to connect with the Skytrain too.
- Street Parking: There’s limited street parking about 1km away from the parking lot mentioned above. Make sure to abide by parking regulations and have a good check around to make sure you haven’t missed a sign. Coming back off a hike to a parking ticket sucks AND the locals get annoyed by the influx of cars every weekend for hikes and mountain biking. Take a look at Mill Street, Dempsey Road and Evelyn Street. Other side roads may also have parking.
- Lynn Headwaters Parking: While this adds a little bit extra to the hike, this way you can walk on trails rather than along the road. Bear in mind the Lynn Headwaters open hours as you don’t want to get locked in! From the parking lot, walk down the paved road and follow the sign for the Baden Powell Trail on the left. At the top of the stairs, go right and eventually you’ll meet up with Mountain Highway which is a gravel path. Take another right and go up the hill for 200m to the trailhead.
What to pack for hiking Big Cedar Kennedy Falls
What to pack for this hike depends on what season you’re hiking in.
- Check out my day hike packing list here.
- If you’re hiking in summer you should pack sunscreen, sunglasses, layers, water and bug spray as well as everything in the 10 essentials for hiking list.
- Here is what to wear hiking in hot weather
- Check out this post on the best leggings for hiking or what to wear hiking in summer for more details and my gear recommendations.
- If you’re hiking in winter after the snow has started falling you’ll need microspikes at the very least. If there is a lot of snow you will probably need snowshoes.
- You should also take plenty of layers including a fleece layer, a puffy insulated jacket and a wind and waterproof outer layer. Hats and gloves are also necessary as well as a good backpack to keep everything in.
- You should also pack water and some snacks too to keep you going as they’re part of the 10 essentials for hiking!
- Planning a hiking date? Check out what to wear on a hiking date but still look cool.
Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by Hannah
Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe, a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada, you’ll find posts on all of this.
Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.