Central Coast of British Columbia, in the settlement of Hagensborg, approximately
27 kilometers East of the town of Bella Coola via Highway 20, and school
The waterfall, valley and mountain view,
very few bugs.
DANGEROUS AREA near the waterfall - high slip-and-fall
hazard. Stay away from the slippery area near the waterfall. Highway
noise for much of the trail. The
trail has several splits, one unmarked. Some steep sections. Hiking
poles and boots are recommended.
There are two waterfalls on the mountain behind several schools in the
settlement of Hagensborg, near Bella Coola. Two separate trails lead to
those waterfalls, but they share one trailhead, and split shortly
thereafter. The East trail is substantially more difficult than the West
trail, and has better waterfall and valley/mountain views. There are excellent valley and
mountain views from both trails. Despite the fact that it was fairly
easy to get to the West falls, we ended up sliding on our side down the
mountain right next to the waterfall for 30 meters feet first, and
slamming into the stones, which prevented us from going over and falling
even further down. The unfortunate turn of events was due to an
extremely slippery and steep terrain near the waterfall. We ended up
suffering no serious injury, but it certainly was quite a ride down that
mountain, with quickly approaching stones promising nothing but trouble.
This trip report describes our hike to Schoolhouse West Falls, and the
next trip report will describe the trip to the neighbouring
1. We are Eastbound on BC Highway 20, in Hagensborg, about 17 kilometers
East of Bella Coola. Approaching a right turn onto the school grounds, where
the trailhead is located for both East and West Schoolhouse Falls.
N 52⁰23.406' W
126⁰32.395'. Elevation: 40 meters. The nearest cross street is Olsen Rd.
British Columbia Highway 20 in Hagensborg BC
2. Having made the right turn, we see a sign indicating that Nusatsum
Elementary School, Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, and School District
#49 Board Office are all found at this location.
Entrance to Nusatsum Elementary, Sir Alexander
Mackenzie School, and SD 49 Board Office in Hagensborg BC Canada
3. A few hundred meters later, there is lots of parking in front of the
elementary school (to the left) and Sir Alexander Mackenzie school (to the
right). The school was out, but, chances are, no one would mind you
parking during a school day too. In any case, there were no signs
restricting parking on the grounds. The trailhead is located 250 meters
away - go between the two schools towards the mountain, and you will see
Nusatsum Elementary and Sir Alexander Mackenzie
Schools in Hagensborg British Columbia
4. Heading towards the trailhead. There is a sports field behind the
schools, and the trailhead is located across the field seen below. From
this spot, you can also observe both the East waterfall (to the left)
and the West waterfall, the subject of this trip report.
School sports field Hagensborg BC Canada
5. The close-up of the West waterfall.
Schoolhouse Falls WEST Waterfall Hagensborg BC
6. The trailhead for both waterfall trails.
N 52⁰23.231' W
126⁰32.348'. Elevation: 52 meters. Other than two signs on Highway 20
(one for each direction of travel) with a lone silhouette of a hiker and
an arrow pointing where to turn onto the school grounds, nothing
indicates that there is a trail here, until you get to the trailhead.
Schoolhouse Falls East and Schoolhouse Falls West
trailhead Hagensborg BC Canada
7. The trail starts with a very long boardwalk.
Schoolhouse Falls West and Schoolhouse Falls East
8. The boardwalk is about 270 meters long. However, make a right turn
250 meters after the start of the trail, as seen below, to get to
West Falls. Going straight and making a left turn at the end of the
boardwalk would lead to the East
Boardwalk - Hiking in Hagensborg BC Canada -
Schoolhouse Falls Trails
9. Schoolhouse Falls WEST trail after the
Bella Coola Hiking - Schoolhouse Falls West Trail
10. Approximately 430 meters after the start of the trail, make a left turn at this
unmarked split. It's easy to remember this spot due to the busted tree
in the middle of the split.
Hiking in Bella Coola Area - Schoolhouse Falls West
11. The trail after the first split.
Hagensborg Hiking - Schoolhouse Falls West trail
12. A foot bridge on the trail.
Hiking in Hagensborg Area - Schoolhouse Falls West
13. The next split arrives at 0.7 km of the trail. This time, there is a
sign. To the right is an "under construction" mountain bike trail, and our trail
is, again, to the left.
BC Hiking - Schoolhouse Falls West Trail in
Hagensborg BC (Bella Coola Area)
14. Yet another split is at about 850 meters. Take a left turn once
again. To the right is Hagensborg Loop trail.
Hiking in BC - Schoolhouse Falls West Trail in Bella
15. Soon after the split, things get steep for a bit.
British Columbia Hiking - Schoolhouse Falls West
trail near Hagensborg / Bella Coola
16. Very steep. But not for long.
Hiking in British Columbia - Schoolhouse Falls West
Trail near Bella Coola and Hagensborg
17. A neat large stone on the side of the trail.
Schoolhouse Falls West Hiking Trail near Hagensborg
British Columbia Canada
18. All it took to reach the Schoolhouse WEST waterfall was about 1.3 km
of hiking. A cool valley and mountain view awaits at the end of the
N 52⁰22.670' W 126⁰32.340'. Elevation: 313
meters (261 meters elevation gain from the start of the trail).
Bella Coola Valley seen from Schoolhouse Falls West
19. The waterfall wasn't bad either, though no match to
we saw the day before.
Schoolhouse Falls West near Hagensborg BC
Here is a video of Schoolhouse Falls WEST.
20. So, how did we end up almost breaking both legs, if nothing else?
Here is where we came out of the forest. The waterfall is on the left
side. Cool, lets walk forward for a better look...
21. And here is where things went South (literally!) in a split second.
The top arrow shows where we stepped onto a super slick surface next to
the waterfall, and the bottom arrow indicates where we ended up several
seconds later. Yes, we prayed all the way down, while sliding on our
side, rapidly gaining speed, and losing some skin on the upper leg in
the process. Neither hiking boots nor poles were of any use to prevent
the accident from happening, or to slow things down once we fell - it
was like sliding on ice with nothing to stop us except those quickly
approaching stones 30 meters later.
22. This photo shows where we slammed into the stones feet first. It's a
good thing those stones were there to begin with, as otherwise we could
have gone for a much longer ride down the mountain. We ended up with wet
feet, and lost a water bottle, which fell out of the backpack's side
pocket and swam away. Other than a 30 cm by 10 cm abrasion on the upper
leg, there were no other injuries. Stay safe.
Schoolhouse Falls WEST is a rather easy
trail, with fine views of the valley and mountains. The waterfall is not bad either.
Just stay away from the slippery area next to the waterfall. You
can get decent views by hiking uphill for a minute or two after coming
out of the forest.