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Cerberus Falls
   British Columbia, Canada

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This waterfall has been surveyed, mapped and measured in person by the World Waterfall Database.
Photo of Cerberus Falls Cerberus Falls is an absolute colossus of a waterfall situated at the head of spectacular Icefall Canyon, deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The falls occur as Icefall Brook emerges from its source in the Southwest Lyell Glacier and hurtles over the edge of the glacially scoured trough. Depending on the daily temperature and the time of year, there can be anywhere from two to four main streams of water pouring over the canyon and forming the falls. The standard display consists of three segments grouped closely together, with a fourth major segment located a short distance to the southwest.

The Southwest Lyell Glacier covers and area of about 20 square kilometers, nearly all of which drains into Icefall Brook - which itself really should be titled as a river. Approximately 75% of the melt water flowing from the glacier falls over the three primary channels of the falls, plunging 1,558 feet at the apex of the canyon, with each segment behiving a little differently. The southern-most of the three plunges in three massive steps, each falling in seemingly slow motion, exploding in a cloud of mist upon impacting the rock below each plunge. The middle segment plunges then skips down the remaining cliff in one long horsetail, while the north segment plunges into a narrow slot and remains hidden from view from all but a straight-on view of the falls before emerging as a veiling horsetail at the base of the formation.

In addition to the main falls, a large melt stream emerges even higher up the canyon wall to the southwest of the main fall and may drop closer to 1700 feet in all. Upstream of the main drop of this 1700 foot segment lies another significant step of about 700 additional feet. Because the initial survey of Cerberus Falls did not yield acceptable views of the majority of this part of the falls, we can't say whether this should be considered a separate waterfall or not. Should it turn out to qualify as two steps of the same drop, Cerberus Falls would then become the most significant waterfall of over 2000 feet in height in Canada.

What makes Cerberus Falls truly stand out from other waterfalls of similar size in Canada is the volume of water involved. On an average summer day the Lyell Glacier can send as much as 400-600 cubic feet of water flowing over the falls every second. However, on days when the temperature pushes 90° F, the volume of water can swell to closer to 1000 cubic feet per second.

HISTORY AND NAMES


  • Also Known as: Icefall Brook Falls
  • Cerberus Falls is the Proposed name of this waterfall

Though this waterfall has been infrequently known as Icefall Brook Falls or Icefall Falls, we wanted to propose a name more fitting of its utter grandiosity. In keeping with our Greek Mythology theme for the other falls in the canyon, we have suggested it be called after Cerberus, the giant three-headed beast which guards the gates of Hades. While considering the icy plains above the falls akin to Hades may be a stretch, the wild, untamed three-segmented nature of the falls more than justified the comparison in our minds.

Our thoughts


Upon seeing the first glimpses of this waterfall, we had no doubt in our minds that it would be among the best in North America. What we couldn't comprehend until we reached the base of the falls, however, was just how much water is involved. Any waterfall of over 1500 feet in height will be impressive, regardless of how much or how little water is involved, but with as much as 1000 cfs flowing over the massive amphitheater walls of Icefall Canyon, there was little left to argue. Cerberus Falls is hands down the best waterfall in British Columbia and stands behind only Virginia Falls as the best in all of Canada.

Location and directions


Turn off the Trans-Canada Highway on Donald Road (signed for the town of Donald), then after a kilometer, turn left onto the Bush River FSR. Follow the Bush River Road for 63km then turn right onto the Valenciennes River FSR shortly after crossing the Valenciennes River. Follow the Valenciennes Road for 18km then bear left onto the Mons Creek - Icefall FSR and follow it for another 9km to where a small sign can be seen indicating the parking for Icefall Lodge. As of August 2010, Mons Creek had washed out the road 1/2km before the parking. From the parking area, find the trail across the flood plain to Icefall Brook (faint) and locate the log footbridge to cross (do not attempt crossing by fording, the creek is too large and swift). Once across, follow the trail (may be flagged) for about 120m to where the trail bears left on an old roadbed. The Icefall Canyon trail (unmarked) heads right along the same former road at this point. Follow the rough, generally overgrown trail towards Icefall Canyon to where it peters out after about 1 1/2 to 2km. From this point it's a rough bushwhack through thick hemlock forest and across bouldery outwash plains. The river limits travel upstream to approximately 4km from the trailhead once nearing the base of the falls. The Icefall Canyon trail is a rough, very much work-in-progress trail which may be difficult to follow at times and should not be attempted by those looking for an easy walk. The falls can also be distantly seen from the Mons Creek FSR about 5km past the trailhead, but due to the washout of the Mons Creek bridge, this may not be drivable.

Cerberus Falls is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

Additional Nearby Waterfalls


Name of Waterfall Distance
Naiad Falls 0.9 mi / 1.44 km
Potamoi Falls 1.07 mi / 1.71 km
Tethys Falls 1.88 mi / 3.01 km
Southwest Lyell Falls 2.78 mi / 4.44 km
Mons Glacier Falls 3.83 mi / 6.12 km
East Lyell Glacier Falls 3.97 mi / 6.36 km
Arras Cascade 4.52 mi / 7.23 km
Rostrum Falls 4.84 mi / 7.74 km

 

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Photography tips


Situated at the head of Icefall Canyon, the falls will see direct sunlight from mid morning through mid afternoon, at which time part of the falls will begin to fall within the shade of the canyon walls. Getting close to the base of the falls will result in spray being a major problem. The best views are from the east side of Icefall Brook, however due to the volume of water crossing safely is very difficult and is not recommended.

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