At a Glance
ACA Rating: 3C II
French Rating: v4a3 II *
Time Required: 3.5 hours
Distance: 1.7 km
Rappels: 4 – longest 30m
Total Elevation Loss: 220m
Updated: 18 June, 2015 with new rappel lengths from bolted stations.
Cypress Creek is a short but spectacular canyon on the south slopes of Black Mountain, in West Vancouver. The highlights include some very nice waterfall rappels, including one of the best in Southwest BC, at Lower Cypress Falls. Between the rappels, the canyon contains some boulder walking in a beautiful and primeval gorge, some downclimbing in nicely carved cascades, slippery and intricate log jams, and a few wades and swims in deep pools.
Standard gear, including wetsuit and rappel equipment. Adequate rope for a maximum 30m rappel. This canyon has now been bolted. Always be prepared, however, for damaged or missing equipment by having a some webbing and rapides along.
To the Trailhead
From Highway 1 Westbound, take Exit 4 (Woodgreen Dr, Caulfeild Dr, Headland Dr). Turn right at the stop sign (Woodgreen Drive).
From Highway 1 Eastbound, take Exit 4 (Caulfeild Dr, Headland Dr, Woodgreen Dr). At the stop sign, turn left on Headland Drive. Cross over the highway, and at the four-way stop, turn right on Woodgreen Drive. Continue along Woodgreen past the on-ramp to Highway 1 Westbound.
Follow Woodgreen Drive up the hill, curving to the left, and take the third right, on Woodgreen Place (a dead end, signed for Cypress Falls Park.) At the very end of this short street, there is a hidden gravel drive heading up to the left – take this up to a large gravel parking area, with bear-proof garbage receptacles at the far end. Park here. There may be many vehicles – most belonging to dog-owners or professional dog walkers. The park is a very popular off-leash area for local canines.
From here, it is about a 30 minute walk to the first drop-in point – mostly uphill, though not too steep overall. It’s up to you – you can set out in wetsuit and pack, or light shirt and shorts, suiting up at the drop-in point.
Take the trail at the end of the parking lot, beside the garbage can and signage, across a very short field and into the trees. Immediately turn left and follow the trail up a ways, then along some up and down, parallel to the creek. After about 5 minutes, the trail drops down to the right a little bit, arriving at a fenced viewpoint overlooking the rooster-tail Lower Cypress Falls. Enjoy the view, anticipating the rappel into the rooster-tail, then continue up the trail, keeping right to cross a wooden footbridge over the creek in a moment. Continue up and to the right, following the trail, and in a few minutes come to a fork. Keep right, which will take you further up and up.
After another 5 minutes, the trail passes through a gate, then deposits you on a road, with a quarry across from you. Turn left up the road. In 5 more minutes, pass a yellow gate, where the road turns to gravel. Continue past the gate, to the second telephone pole on the right side of the road. Just prior to the pole, a faint trail leads up the hill on your right. Follow it up into the trees. From here, you will be following day-glo green flagging along the trail.
Just after entering the trees, turn left to contour northwards for a very short way. Then follow the trail up a shallow draw for a minute or two. The trail comes up to a level spot, then drops down and left, closer to the creek. Contour along the hillside for a couple of minutes, then steeply up a short embankment. In another moment, you will join an old logging road through the woods.
Turn left on the logging road, and follow it for about 150m or so. The road forks, with the right going up into the forest, and becoming more overgrown. Keep to the left. In another 50m or so, reach the end of a little promontory over the creek below. Start down to the right, and follow a very steep trail (there are a couple of knotted, fixed ropes to help with the descent), through a little obstacle course, to the bed of the creek. Be careful dropping down here, as there is potential for injury if you slip in some spots. Watch, also, that you don’t dislodge rocks or logs on people below.
Once you get close to the creek, there are some good flat spots to suit up and prepare for the first rappel. When you’re all ready, scramble down into the creek, where it swirls down towards the first waterfall. There is a large boulder right at the top of the cascade. Above it is a bolted rappel station. There is also a bolt further back from the drop, which can be used for a safety clip, in case you or a member of your party feel uncomfortable with the exposure at the top of the rappel.
The first rappel is approximately 14 meters (45 feet), and ends in a swimmer pool. There are numerous ledges all the way down, and two logs angle down into the pool. You will end up between the logs in high flow, though in lower flow you can keep left (rappeler’s left) of both logs, along the wall.
Pack up your rope, and continue down canyon. There is a nice section of narrows along here, then the canyon opens again, and you pass below a bridge high above. This is the old entrance point (prior to the descent of the upper waterfall in about 2013). Shortly afterwards, you will arrive at the the second rappel.
This rappel is easily done as a two stage rap with a length of about 22 meters (70 feet). Add about 2 meters in high water, because the exit from the rappel is in a swirling bowl that can be difficult to exit. The anchor is another bolted rappel station, on canyon left. It is just above the chockstone pinch that was the original anchor prior to bolting. Drop down to the pool on the ledge, wade/swim across to the far side, and drop over the lip for the second stage. Keep well to your left (as you rappel) in the groove/corner, or you WILL slip!
Pull the rope – it is surprisingly easy, despite going around the corner – and continue down the canyon past a log jam (easily passed on the right, a little less easily on the left) to the next rappel. This rappel used to be anchored off a huge boulder that was propped into the corner on your left, as you approach the waterfall – a fair distance around the corner. This huge boulder is now gone – it washed away during the winter of 2014/15. Just goes to show how massive the water flows through here can be!
The rappel is now anchored off a bolted rappel station on canyon left, just above the drop. Very carefully move out onto the ledge on the left. It may seem exposed, but the footing is secure, and handholds are plenty. The rappel is 18 meters (60 feet) to the water.
After pulling the rope, continue down the canyon from here for another 30-45 minutes or so, and pass below the wooden footbridge from earlier in the day. Continue to the base of the viewing platform, and prepare for the rooster tail rappel.
There are a pair of bolts just around the corner, equalized with some webbing. Climb up to the viewing platform, go around it, and drop into the drainage just beyond it, then move back toward the creek itself – you will find the bolts there. Alternatively, you can go down the main channel with a belay and turn the corner to reach the bolts. There will very likely soon be another bolt on the cliff below and prior to the viewpoint, to use as a safety clip for the move around the corner.
This rappel is just under 30 meters (100 feet) to the pool below. First person down should check the rope’s fall upon reaching the top of the two large logs in the falls, about 20 feet from the top. (Interesting note – there was only one log here until the fall of 2012 – would have been interesting to see that come down!) Step carefully on the logs – they can be slippery. If using a carabiner block, the last person may wish to remove the block and rap double strand, to avoid the possibility of sticking the rope on the logs.
Pass some logs jams (some slippery scrambling, and possibly a very short “nuisance” rappel), a nice slanted hallway, and some neat pouroffs. You will come to a wall on the right with a number of climbing bolts on it, and possibly some old rope and/or quickdraws. Just past this is the first convenient exit – scramble up a dirt ramp under a fallen log to the rim, and turn right.
There is some more jumping, wading and exploring below this level – you can find a couple of more potential exits lower, on the right – take one of them when you see houses up ahead…
Follow the trail up the rim of the canyon for 5 minutes or so. You will see some plastic mesh fencing off to your left just before you reach a well-trod trail. Turn left, and almost immediately rejoin the main trail. Once there, turn left to reach the parking lot in about two minutes.
* Reason for rating:
v4 – “Vertical sections with low to medium water flow, causing balance problems or blocking”
a3 – “Swimming not exceeding 30 m in calm water. Travel in low current.”