Hiking the Kettle – Off the Beaten Track.

Hiking the Kettle

The Kettle Rapids, on the Clearwater River, in Wells Gray Park (Clearwater, BC), are off the beaten path and missed by many of the tourists who visit the area. A series of surging, boiling rapids, they are unsafe even for whitewater enthusiasts to run until late in the summer when the waters have subsided, but they make for beautiful sightseeing all summer long. The Kettle is accessible by a short well marked walking trail through old growth cedars. There are several steep stairs so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues but otherwise is an easy trip.

Old Growth Cedar

 

Getting to the Kettle

Travel west off of the Old North Thompson Highway onto Camp Road 2 (adjacent to the Clearwater River, right in Clearwater). Travel .8km until you see the sign for Wells Gray Air on the right. Turn right and travel 7.2 Km where you will see a sign advising travellers with RV’s to turn back. Park at this pullout area. The road in is gravelled but up to this point generally well maintained.

Narrow Road Ahead – Go no further

When the road says “Narrow Road Ahead” … heed the sign travelling past that point is not recommended. The washout just past the sign (where the road narrows to a single lane) is just beginning. At times in places the road can be completely washed out, or strewn with boulders from rock slides, travel past here at your own risk. Travel without a 4 wheel drive vehicle from this point on is not recommended. Up to this point the road is fine.

Continue to walk down the road 100 meters or so from the parking area and you will see the trail head sign. Follow it down to the river and prepare to be awed.

Kettle Rapids Trailhead sign. Turn left here and follow to the river.

 

The Rapids …

My pictures do not do the rapids justice. The Kettle Rapids are a simply stunning must see.

Kettle Rapids on the Clearwater River

Kettle Rapids, Clearwater BC

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Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs

Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall .. it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

 

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No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

 

 

The hummingbirds are back

HUMMINGBIRDS

The hummingbirds are back. Kathy spotted the first one about a week ago and more are arriving daily. From late April until  early May every year these fascinating little birds return from wintering in California, and Central and South America. That is an incredible journey for a bird that weighs somewhere between the weight of a nickel (5 cent coin) and a penny (one cent coin)

Over the season we typically see three species, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, Caliope Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Black chinned Hummingbird. I have also seen what I believe to be a male Anna’s Hummingbird, and a male Caliope Hummingbird but only once.

 

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Hummers are fascinating to watch. They hover like bejewelled works of art over the feeder enjoying the (dye free) nectar. They dart in and out chasing each other, often resembling a world war 2 arial dogfight… doing high speed acrobatics, the sound of their beating wings like little jets.

Despite their diminutive size, hummingbirds actually have very loud voices. The first time I heard one I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

At Valley Hideaway Guest House we have several feeders placed at strategic places in the front and back yards so that you will have maximum opportunities to watch these tiny, colourful delights.

Hummingbird Trivia

Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures. They’re the only birds capable of flying backwards, and their wings flap between 15-200 times per second.

Hummers not only lap at nectar, they aisles eat small insects for protein.

Many species of hummingbird raise more than one brood of young per season.

Photographing Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds can be tricky to photograph. The best bet is to sit still in the vicinity of a feeder with camera at the ready. They buzz in quickly, hover and lap up the nectar and are gone again. sometimes they take a seat on the feeder and will rest there between laps.

You will need a high shutter speed (because of the speed of their wings), patience and maybe even a little luck.

Birding

The North Thompson Valley, Clearwater and Wells Gray Park area is a treasure trove for birders. More than 200 species have been recorded in the area.  A checklist for species in the park can be found here.  

 

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Book your stay with us. We are open year round.

 

 

Cannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest HouseNo Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Valley Hideaway Guest House is non-smoking and cannabis Free

 

Winter Summer, Spring and Fall

It takes all year to do it all

In Clearwater

 

Sarlaac Pit

Sarlaac Pit – Newly Discovered Cave

We are excited to learn of the discovery of a previously unknown cave system, tentatively named the Sarlaac Pit (a formal name will be given after consultation with appropriate stakeholders including local first Nations people). This deep cave is located in a very remote part of Wells Gray Park.

The exact location of the newly discovered cave/cavern is being kept under close wraps until such time as it can be explored properly. It is protected by its location (in Wells Gray Provincial Park) and the remoteness of the terrain.

It is believed to be one of the largest caves in Canada and may have never been seem by human eyes before. Informal surveys of long time residents reveal no knowledge of the cave, nor is their any mention in the journals of explorers in the area.`Geoscientist Catherine Hickson, part of the initial exploration team said the team believes no one has explored it previously, and that it may also be unknown to local First Nations due to the fact that it was likely covered by snow year-round until some point in the last 20-50 years.

 

 

Sarlaac Pit – newly discovered cave in Wells Gray Park

 

How Big is It?

It’s humungous … the cave is 100 metres by 60 metres — virtually the same dimensions of a Canadian football field. It’s also extremely deep, extending more than 100 metres underground, with the first 80 metres of that being a straight vertical drop.

Geologist Catherine Hickson said it was luck that the aerial crew happened to fly over the cave when it wasn’t covered in snow. Hickson and a team that included cave experts John Pollack and Lee Hollis spent months studying satellite imagery and preparing to visit the site, before flying into the rugged alpine on Sept. 9 to confirm the cave’s significance.

A huge volume of water flows into the cave from area snow melt, making the lower water flow of  September the prime time for exploration. A more in depth exploration trip is likely in September 2020.

“My immediate reaction was that there can’t be a cave there, it’s impossible,” geoscientist Catherine Hickson, who conducted an expedition to the site in September, told Global News. “It is huge. It is enormous. When you first see it, you just gasp because it’s just this huge hole in the ground.”

Can we Visit it?

The cave is not likely to be readily accessible for tourists because of it remoteness and difficulty of access. The remoteness means that even helicopter flights into the area require special permits. A hike would be a massive undertaking to be done only by people with advanced technical mountain climbing skills.

It does serve as a wonderful reminder though that we are located in one of the few areas of the world that still contains unexplored wilderness. Even some of our world famous waterfalls are relatively recent discoveries. Helmcken Falls was only seen the first time just over 100 years ago. Canim Falls and Mahood Falls were not known until into the 20th century, except for a few First Nations People.

 

Other Things to See and Do

This is the Canada you come hoping to see. Wild, untamed and unspoiled. We are surrounded by pristine and near pristine wilderness. Experience our clear rivers, our many fishable lakes. Stand under waterfalls. Be awed by the height and width of the falls (more than 40 named falls in Wells Gray Park). See the remnants of more forms of volcanic activity than anywhere else in the world.

Raft raging white waters. Ride horseback in the forest. Canoe. Kayak. Ride miles of mountain bike trails. Snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter. Paraglide. Fly over Wells Gray Park. Take in the Farmers Market and local arts and craft vendors.

Soak up the sun and swim at spring fed Dutch Lake beach. It’s conveniently located right in Clearwater. Or try Dunn Lake for a more rugged swim. It’s just a 20 minute drive.

In season see one of the largest subalpine wildflower meadows in the world when you hike the Trophy Mountain Trail.

Fish … more than 50 lakes within an hours drive (appropriate licences required).

Be amazed by the depth of  our local history when you visit the Aboriginal Centre.

 

Are extreme sports your thing?   There are mountains still to be climbed.  In winter there are waterfalls to climb (not to be undertaken by the novice)

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

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Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

 

 

Bedroom Renovations Completed

BEDROOM RENOVATIONS COMPLETED

We have completed the second bedroom renovations.  The room now features two comfortable single beds which are convertible to a large queen size on request. These beds are in addition to the queen in the master guest suite and the double hideabed in the master suite sitting room.

This new configuration gives us far more flexibility when meeting your accommodation needs. The renovations give a room that is spacious with plenty of closet space. It is ideal for two singles or a couple.

 

Bedroom renovations completed.

Newly renovated second bedroom in suite – Now 2 twin beds convertible to large queen on request. Valley Hideaway Guest House, Interior Photos – Clearwater BC

 

The room is presently decorated in our winter decor. The decor is changed seasonally.

Valley Hideaway Guest house is conveniently located just off of highway 5, between Edmonton and Vancouver, (Vancouver to Edmonton) making it the ideal stopover point for those travelling the Yellowhead corridor. Unlike most B&B’s in the area, we are open year round, which is really handy for the winter trek.

Our bed and breakfast is a great spot to stay for a few days and explore the natural beauty of Wells Gray Park and the North Thompson Valley. Our breakfast is second to none, and has received great reviews from guests around the world.

Whether for one night or an extended stay, we look forward to hosting your Clearwater stay.

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

Book your stay with us.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

WHAT IS THERE TO DO

What is There to do?

What is there to do in Clearwater, B.C.?

What is there to see?

What can we do?

Those questions or some variant of them are often asked by our guests. Stay for days and be kept busy all the time, because there are so many things to see and do. We’ve been visiting Clearwater for 15 years and lived here for 3 and haven’t exhausted the list yet! Explore on your own, as a family, as a group or as part of an organized tour. Clearwater has it all.

Wells Gray Park

We would be remiss if we didn’t start with the pristine wilderness of Wells Grey Park. A big plus over the national parks is that there are no visitor fees.

Wells Gray Park is half a million + hectares of pristine wilderness with waterfalls roaring off of lava cliffs, hiking trails, wildlife, streams, rivers, glaciers, and more. Evidence of more types of volcanic activity are found here than any other place on earth. Volcanologists come from around the world to study here.

 

What id there to do? Check out Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Park, one of Canada's highest waterfalls

Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Park, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. Cuts through hundreds of feet of volcanic lave.

Take a flight over Wells Gray Park and see the area as few people ever have. Scenic flights can be arranged.

While the Park is indeed first class, there is so much more to do in the area.

Other Things to do in the Clearwater Area

What is there to do in Clearwater, B.C.?  Other than enjoying one of the world’s best pristine wilderness parks? Lots!

Ride the wild waters. World class white water rafting and calmer float trips are available on the Clearwater and North Thompson River. We are fortunate enough to have three rafting companies to choose from.

Take a western trail ride. Enjoy the majesty of our wilderness on the back of a horse. From the absolute novice to the experienced trail hand we have somewhere here for you to ride.

What is there to do in Clearwater? Ride a horse. Battle Mountain Equine - Western horseback riding - Find your inner cowboy. Wells Gray Park, Clearwater BC, tourism adventure

Battle Mountain Equine – Western horseback riding – Find your inner cowboy

Test your nerve and go parasailing.

Hike or mountain bike one of the many trails. Country ski or snowshoe those trails if its winter.

Grab your clubs and enjoy a round of golf. No clubs with you? Rent a set.

Fish one of the many rivers and lakes. Be sure to check out the regulations.

Enjoy a relaxing meal at one of our many restaurants or grab a quick bite at one of several fast food places. Try the Belgian Waffles and other treats up at Spahats Falls.

Maybe birding or wildlife viewing is your idea of fun. There are plenty of birds and critters to see.

Join the locals for the Saturday morning Elk’s Club Pancake Breakfast and stroll on over the the Farmer’s Market.

Catch a few rays on the beach at Dutch Lake and enjoy some swimming. There are canoe and Kayaks rentals available.

See the work of local artists and artisans at the Red Umbrella. Perhaps you will find that perfect remembrance of the trip of a lifetime there.

Educational and Cultural Things to do

What is there to do? Get educated. It is always fun to combine a little learning with some fun.

Visit a historic sheep ranch. If you come in the spring there is the bonus of lambing tours.

What is there to do? Check out the sheep

Day old lambs at historic Avenly Ranch. they don’t get any cuter than this.

Tour the fish hatchery.

Visit the Aboriginal Centre and learn about our earliest people. Check out some of the first nations archaeological sites in the area.

On a rainy day pop on in to the local library and enjoy a good book.

Thursday evenings in the summer check out the live music outside at the Dutch Lake Community Center. Be amazed at the local talent.

Check out the stars at one of the stargazing nights. The skies are beautiful.

Check out displays from local artists at Dutch Lake Community Centre.

Special events and festivals happen throughout the summer.

Learn about the geology, geography, flora, fauna and history of the area.

On a Sunday morning there are a number of fine Christian churches to attend.

Check out some of the primitive skills classes that are periodically offered.

 

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Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Perfect Rest Stop

Perfect Rest Stop on Busy Holiday

There is an old joke that says “If it’s Tuesday it must be (fill in the city)” We have all had the holidays where we want to see and do as much as we can in a very limited time. It can be tricky to choose the perfect rest stop on a busy holiday of two, three or even four weeks.

Many of the guests at Valley Hideaway have experienced that very dilemma. They have been hitting the well known high points, Jasper, Banff, Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver Island. At some point in that route they come through Clearwater and book a night with us. The majority of our guests tell us that if they had known how beautiful and peaceful it is here in Clearwater they would have planned for a longer stay.

When travelling your circuit we recommend that you spend at least two nights in Clearwater. There is plenty to see and do and it is also a wonderful place to rest and just digest all that you have already seen.

At Valley Hideaway Guest House we take only one party at a time. That gives you exclusive use of our two story guest area and a full acre of land to wander in. Sit a spell on the rustic backyard swing. Grab a seat under the front yard crabapple tree.

 

Valley Hideaway Guesthouse - crabapple tree front view

Valley Hideaway – crabapple tree front view

Enjoy a fire in our outdoor fire pit (weather permitting) or inside by the woodburning fireplace on a rainy day.

Living room with wood burning fireplace - Valley Hideaway Guest House ( B&B )

Living room with wood burning fireplace – Valley Hideaway Guest House

Stop and smell the flowers (both literally and figuratively). Breathe the fresh air. Enjoy seeing a large variety of birdlife. Watch the squirrels chase each other through the stately Douglas firs.

Get Away

Retreat from the world for a couple of days. Rest up and soak in what you have seen so far. Restore your mind and spirit. Explore the beauty of Wells Grey Park and the North Thompson area.

Some Reviews

What do our guests say? Here is a sample from actual guest reviews…

“Kevin and Kathy are the most warmth and friendly host we ever met, they seemed to leave most of their house to the guest, not only just one room, and those rooms are impeccable clean …” J. Taiwan

“Everything was perfect. There’s no word to describe this amazing stay! We were very sad to leave after only one night!” L. France

“This was not B&B per se, basically we had free use of a whole house. Kevin and Kathy so welcoming and helpful. We felt guilty only staying for one night. It would suit someone wanting a longer stay…. the Wells Grey NP is close by and very pretty.” R. U.K.

“Brilliant breakfast. Best I have ever had in a B&B. Great owners. We could have stayed there for more time, if looking to stay in the area.” A. U.K.

“The hosts were wonderful and made us feel like we were right at home after many weeks of travelling”. E. Netherlands

“Like home …. only better”. S. Israel

Book your multi day stay in Clearwater today, it is the perfect rest stop on a busy holiday. You’ll be glad you did.

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

Starry Nights – Enjoy the northern night sky

Starry Nights

Who doesn’t love starry nights? I don’t mean Vincent Van Gogh’s classic painting, which I confess doesn’t speak to me personally, although it does speak to millions of other people. I mean staying out after dark and seeing God’s magnificent handiwork in the skies.

Living in in urban areas often causes people to lose out on the beauty of the night sky simply because light pollution causes the view of the heavens to be dimmed. The clear skies of Clearwater provide incredible breath taking views.

 

Starry Night - Constellations - Clearwater BC

Starry Night – Constellations – Clearwater BC

 

STARGAZING NIGHTS

Every summer, we have held an evening with the stars in Wells Grey Park (weather permitting). We are excited by a recent announcement from Tourism Wells Grey that this event will be expanded this year.

“In order to improve the visitor experience during the summer, in partnership with Wells Gray Air, there will be Stargazing Nights every Wednesday night at the Wells Gray Air base in Clearwater during the months of July and August. Every Wednesday night enjoy an outdoor movie as the sun sets, then lay back and count the stars! This free event will be open to any and all visitors and community members. More details to come”

 

Starry Nights - Aurora - Clearwater BC

Starry Nights – Aurora – Clearwater BC

 

What a great way to spend a family evening! A free movie followed by some stargazing. Come out and enjoy an evening under the stars.  It’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the multitude of the stars in the northern hemisphere in a new and fresh way. Allow the incomparable beauty of a starry Clearwater night to take your breath away.

The starry night photos on this page were all taken by Mike Lahaie in the past two years and all copyright belongs to him. Used by permission.Thanks Mike for your starry night images.

 

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Book Your Stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House

 

Valley Hideaway is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

 

Retreat, Rest, Explore, Explore

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall … it takes all year to do it all… in Clearwater

 

Helmcken Falls – Jewel of Wells Grey Park

Helmcken Falls – The Jewel of Wells Grey

It is no exaggeration to call Helmcken Falls the “Jewel of Wells Grey Park“. Rated by Readers Digest as one of “Canada’s 10 most Beautiful Waterfalls”. Helmcken Falls is the centerpiece to Wells Gray Provincial Park, one of the most powerful waterfalls on earth and one of BC’s prime tourist draws,” says the World’s Waterfall Database. This is truly a must see when you are in the area.

The Murtle River narrows from 300 feet wide just a few kilometres upstream (Dawson Falls) to 75 feet and roars over the lip of the canyon. The water hurtles 462 feet to create a large amphitheatre (one of North America’s largest natural amphitheatre). The bowl is more than 500 feet wide and carves back over 100 feet into the cliff behind the falls.

Further downstream there is a second 50 foot drop which isn’t counted in Helmcken’s official height. The two drops make Helmcken over 500 feet. The volume of spray is sufficient that under the right conditions it can be seen well above the canyon rim.

The view point is some distance from the falls making it difficult to truly appreciate the power and size of the falls. Still, the view is nothing short of awe inspiring. The World Waterfall Database says, “Simply put, Helmcken Falls is unquestionably one of the best waterfalls in all of North America.”

Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Park, Clearwater BC

Helmcken Falls

 

Helmcken Falls in Winter

The water plunges over the canyon rim year round. The spray bowl in winter can exceed 200 feet tall. In recent years ice climbers have discovered the falls and it is rated as the world’s most difficult mixed climb. The falls are accessible year round.

Helmcken falls - Winter

Helmcken falls – Winter

Helmcken – the name

The falls were discovered in the summer of 1913 by by Canadian Government land surveyor Robert Lee in July of 1913. The falls were named for Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken who was active in the early governance of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

Getting to Helmcken

Take the Clearwater Valley Road (main park access road) 42 kilometers north from the highway in Clearwater, then turn left at the signs for the falls and follow 4 kilometers to the end of the road. A short well maintained trail will take you to the viewing area from the parking lot (approx 5 minutes).

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

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Book your stay

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non- smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Clearwater – A Restful Stop

Clearwater – A Restful Stop

Clearwater is a restful stop for those who are doing their Alberta/BC tour. One of the most common comments from our overseas visitor is “If we had known it was this beautiful and peaceful we would have booked to stay longer”.

Tourist come from around the world to explore the beauty and majesty of Canada’s incredible wilderness. Here in Clearwater, we have it all. Majestic mountains. Pristine wilderness. Breath taking waterfalls. Wildlife. Birding. Unspoiled lakes and rivers.

It is with good reason that Tourism Wells Grey uses the slogan “The Canada You Imagined”. We have the things you want to see without all the heavily commercialized tourism that accompanies some of the better known locations such as Banff, Jasper and Whistler. Wells Grey Park has more than 5,200 square kilometres (1.3 million acres) of alpine wilderness.

There are 39 named water falls in what many call Canada’s Waterfall Park. One of them, Helmcken Falls was named byReader’s Digest as one of “Canada’s 10 Most Beautiful Waterfalls”. There are waterfalls accessible year round for your viewing pleasure.

Our guests have called Valley Hideaway “like home, only better”, “a wonderful retreat” and a “restful place to stay”. After the hustle and bustle of packing up every night and driving several hours for the next sightseeing stop, only to repeat the process the following day, they have appreciated being able to have full use of the house and yard and just enjoy.

There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied, sightseeing, hiking, whitewater rafting, parasailing, horseback riding, kayaking and more. In season there are some unique and delightful restaurants. Even in the offseason, there is good food at fair prices although the number of restaurants is smaller. In the off season enjoy frozen waterfalls, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and more. There is never a shortage of things to enjoy.

 

Front view Valley Hideaway Guest House Clearwater

 

Edmonton to Vancouver (or vice versa)

Clearwater is strategically placed for a great stopover when traveling from Northern Alberta to the Lower Mainland. Break the driving in two. Take a stretch, enjoy a meal in one of the local restaurants and get a good nights sleep.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

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Book your stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Moul Falls a hidden gem

Moul Falls

We continue our exploring the waterfalls of Wells Grey with a look at Moul Falls. Neither as tall as Helmcken Falls or Spahats Falls nor as wide as Dawson Falls, Moul has a unique charm is should be on every visitor’s must see list.

Moul Falls, Grouse Creek, Waterfalls of Wells Grey

Pouring from Grouse creek, spanning 40 feet with a vertical drop of 115 feet, Moul is pretty year round. The crown in this hidden gem is the undercut behind the falls. It is possible to actually stand behind the falls or traverse the creek from behind them.

Accessing the undercut ledge (cave) will mean crossing some slippery, wet rocks and you will likely get wet from the spray. It is worth it (especially on hot summer days), there are few places you can stand behind a real wilderness waterfall. You can photograph the falls from front and behind, just be careful on those wet rocks.

Moul is a little less accessible than some of the other front of park waterfalls as it requires a 6 km round trip hike from the parking area, but is well worth the hike. Like many of the falls in Wells Grey, Moul cascades down where the lava has been eroded to the underlying basalt.

ACCESSING MOUL FALLS

The parking area for Moul falls is approximately 20 km up Clearwater Valley Rd on the south side. After parking, hike through the gate and down the old logging road following the signs. The trail eventually swings to the left and takes you to the falls (distance from trailhead to falls – approx. 3km each way). Note that while the bulk of the trail is a gentle slope, there is a steep set of stairs to access the base of the falls.

Moul Falls, waterfalls of Wells Grey

Stairs to Moul Falls

 

 

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Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non-smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises