52 Weeks of Trails - Week 39- Chapman Creek Falls
In case you missed it, we've introduced our challenge to you for 2014-- 52 Weeks of Trails. Each week we'll blog about a trail (hike, bike, snowshoe, and paddle!) and we hope you enjoy and share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and/or Instagram using #52weeksoftrails. Happy Trails!
Length & Difficulty:
8km Roundtrip | 3 hours | Moderate
Chapman Falls is one of those places in my years of living on the Sunshine Coast that I had heard about—but I’d never seen any pictures, didn’t know how to get there, and the couple times I spotted it on a map it looked like a very long and daunting hike. I made the decision to tackle the trail anyway for Week 39 of the 52 Weeks of Trails challenge. To my surprise—the trail was not very difficult and the falls were far beyond my expectations—absolutely spectacular!
While there are multiple ways to access the Chapman Creek trail network—I decided to start at the new trail leading from the airport towards the Chapman Creek bridge. This section is designated as part of the Suncoaster Trail, and the plan is to continue connecting trails along the Coast until you can reach the Earl’s Cove ferry terminal, many sections of which already exist (and will be featured in upcoming ’52 Weeks’ blogs).
Stand overtop rushing water at the Chapman Creek Bridge
From the trailhead to the bridge, you’ll wind through beautiful forest complete with many old growth stumps that are quite impressive. There are a few small hills but for the most part the path is relatively flat with several small bridge paths over soggy spots, which helps keep you somewhat mud free even in rainy weather. This area would be excellent for mountain biking and trail running, and would almost be wheelchair accessible except for a those couple of hilly spots. After approximately 1.8km, you reach the Chapman Creek bridge. The creek rushes below and on this late September day was lined in fisherman—one of whom was in the middle of reeling in a large Coho salmon!
The trail to the falls continues on past the bridge—but be aware, I did not see a single sign pointing to the falls, so be sure to bring a map as there are a few turns and those with a poor sense of direction could get turned around. The next fork in the trail you’ll see a sign pointing back to "Chapman Bridge" or left to “Davis Bay/Selma Park”; take the left. After that you'll reach another split—this time a 3 way fork—follow the sign pointing to the “SELMA PARK POWER LINES”. The steepest section of the trail is here, but rest assured its short and then continues back to mostly flat terrain. When you reach the power lines, head across the clear cut under the lines, follow the trail slightly to the left, and then you’ll see the trail head back into the woods on your right. Again, there’s no sign, so pay close attention. From there, you’re past most of the forks and turns and can just follow the trail all the way to the falls. You will meet back up with a gravel road for short bit until you get to the pump house— then continue through the yellow ‘SCRD’ signs and you’re just a few more minutes of hiking away from the falls.
Large metal walkways lead you over a gorge to the falls
Now, I said it once, and I’ll say it again, the falls are absolutely spectacular! It’s actually a series of 3 large waterfalls, one right after the other. The volume of water spilling down these cliffs was astounding! There is a path right to the cliffs edge to give you a decent look at the falls, but please use utmost caution. The cliff areas surrounding the falls are wet, slippery, and incredibly steep, so use at your own risk. Take your time, enjoy the sound of the rushing water, and soak in the beauty of the forest.
To get to the trail head from Gibsons, head north on Highway 101 and turn right on Field Road by the Shell station and the Wilson Creek Plaza. Drive to the end of Field Road and turn left onto Hilltop Road. Drive to the end of Hilltop and park on your left where you will see the "SunCoaster Trail" sign and map board.