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 Home > Discover BC > BC Rivers > Medicine Bowls

Medicine Bowls
The Medicine Bowls, also known as the Browns River Falls, are located on the Browns River, approximately 16 km (10 miles) north-west of Courtenay. To get there, drive from Hwy 19 and take the Piercy Road exit. From Courtenay, take the turnoff to Forbidden Plateau Road, and then take the overpass crossing Hwy 19.

Forbidden Plateau Road
After travelling on Forbidden Plateau Road for around 8 km (5 miles), there is an unmarked turnoff to the right as Forbidden Plateau Road curves sharply to the left. Take this gravel road. Drive approximately 1.6 km (1 mile) to the end of this dead-end road where there is an undeveloped parking lot and turn-around in the bush. Do not take any low-clearance vehicles on this road as it is full of potholes, is very rough and has some narrow sections along the route.

River Trail
Once parked, look for a river stone memorial cairn placed here after two tragic deaths that occurred on August 25, 2001. This is the start of an unmarked trail that will take you to the Browns River and the site of the Medicine Bowls, usually a 10-15 minute walk along a dirt path, travelling through a maze of other lesser trails.

Very Dangerous
There is a quote on the river rock memorial cairn that sums up all of the dangers that can occur at the Medicine Bowls when swimming, "These Waters Can Rise Quickly And Unexpectedly; Beware Of Dangerous Undercurrents." Not only can the water conditions be lethal here, but the rocks and paths that intersect the area around the Medicine Bowls are unmarked, slippery, and very steep, so be careful when visiting. Numerous people have drowned at the Medicine Bowls.

At You Own Risk
Swimming is at your own risk and it is definitely not a place for non-swimmers, older people, small children, or those who are not sure of their footing or balance. The rocky bluff next to a sometimes-torrent Browns River is extremely slippery and when visiting, please consider wearing a Personal Flotation Device and helmet.

Three Pools
There are three main pool areas with waterfalls at the Medicine Bowls. The farthest up-stream one is generally referred to as Upper Pool, the middle one Deep Hole, and the furthest downstream, Peter Pan. Generally speaking, the only time available to swim at the Medicine Bowls is in late July and August, but even then, the Browns River could rise at any time and prove to be lethal, so caution must be exercised at all times.

Water Temperature
The water at the Medicine Bowls is fed by run-off from the snow pack of nearby Paradise Meadows and meanders through an area with not much direct sunlight; therefore, the temperature tends to be on the cold side. You might consider bringing a wet suit if you plan on going for a swim. For people who prefer warmer water, try the much more accessible swimming area at Nymph Falls Nature Park on the Puntledge River.

Information on Medicine Bowls

 

Medicine Bowls near Courtenay
Medicine Bowls

 

Medicine Bowls
Medicine Bowls

 

Upper Pool
Upper Pool

 
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