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Photo of Granny Falls at Colliery Dam park
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Discover the Beauty of Colliery Dam Park & Granny Falls

Nestled in the heart of Nanaimo lies an oasis waiting to be explored by photography enthusiasts. Colliery Dam park and Granny Falls offer a breathtaking combination of natural beauty and man-made infrastructure that makes for stunning photo opportunities. From the cascading falls to the tranquil waters of the dam, this hidden jewel is a must-visit for anyone looking to capture Nanaimo through their camera lens.

Table of Contents

About Colliery Dam Park?

Colliery Dam Park is a 28-hectare park in Nanaimo. It has two man-made lakes, three swimming beaches, and 2.5 KLM of trails. The upper lake has three small swimming beaches which are very popular in summer. Both dams were built in 1910. First used to supplying water to wash coal at the waterfront. The city used the water from the dams until the South Fork Dam was built in 1932. Being a rare link to Nanaimo’s industrial and coal mining heritage, they are now part of the Community Heritage Register. Because of the many different things you can do in the park, Colliery Dam Park continues to be a popular place for people to visit from all over the world. Viewing its serene beauty and rich cultural heritage.

Quick Park Facts

Important facts about Colliery Dam Park and Granny Fall: the park is 28 hectares and has 2.5 KLM of trails looping through dense wooded sections. There are three swimming spots, caves, and a wonderful waterfall. Finally, it is open for fishing, and is a popular hiking, jogging and dog-walking area.

Info and the history of the park

Granny Falls and Colliery Dam Park are a unique link to Nanaimo’s industrial and coal mining past. The Western Fuel Corporation constructed the dam in 1910–1911 to provide water for the miners, mules, and horses in the mines as well as for washing coal. The water system supplied water to the homes in South Harewood, until 1932, when the dams were replaced.

Today, the park is registered as one of Canada’s Historic Places and is readily accessible to the public as a recreational and interpretive venue. The lake created by the dam provides a well-used outdoor swimming facility for the public. Granny Falls is also a photo spot.

The park gives visitors a chance to learn about the history of the area and the coal mining industry. It is a reminder of the important role the coal company played in shaping Nanaimo.

What to see at Colliery Dam Park

1. South Harewood Lake

South Harewood Lake is a picturesque body of water in Colliery Dam Park. The serene environment of the lake offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. This makes it popular for nature lovers, hikers and us photo-buffs. Visitors can take a walk around the lake, fish for trout, or simply sit and enjoy the views. The surrounding forested hills are beautiful.

Activities: The trails are perfect for a refreshing jog, a leisurely walk, or a challenging hike, allowing you to explore the park’s unique features. You can also walk up to the highest point in the park on the wooden pedestrian bridge, where the nearby Parkway can be heard. You can see the big culvert downstream.

2. Colliery Dam Loop Walk

The Colliery Dam Loop Walk is a 2.3 km loop taking 34 minutes to complete. I would consider it an easy hike that is open year-round. The trail has forested trails, streams, bridges, and a waterfall.

Bring your furry friends, for there is an off-leash dog park. Walk is a great way to see the park and connect with nature, get some exercise and recharge. Some trails are paved, making it accessible for all ages and levels of fitness. Along the route, you can visit Granny Falls, a small waterfall near Upper Lake. As you explore the park, you will find amenities such as toilets, trash bins and info signs. Overall, it is a wonderful experience that will make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

3. Caves

Visiting the caves at Colliery Dam Park is an adventure. Located just off the main park trail, the caves are accessible but require a bit of scrambling through brush. The caves are clusters of large rock formations that were formed during the Ice Age. Surrounded by dense wooded sections, the caves provide incredible views of the upper and lower man-made lakes.

4. Hiking to Granny Falls from the dog park

The hike to Granny Falls at Colliery Dam Park is a great little adventure. From the upper parking lot, don’t cross the bridge. Head south along the lake till you arrive at a second bridge, cross here. Head towards the large culvert with the concrete walkway inside. You can look at the graffiti! Once through, follow the path to Granny Falls. The falls are nestled in the forest, with a rocky creek bed. As you get closer, you will hear the rushing water. The view is breathtaking, with ample photo opportunities.

Granny Falls at Colliery Dam Park

5. Photographing Granny Falls

To capture the beauty of Granny Falls, I recommended using a tripod to get a tack-sharp image. Also, get there in late winter or early spring. The water levels will be higher in the winter-spring.

I could feel the spray from the falls during my last visit. So remember to cover your camera equipment when not in use.

Using a polarizer will help cut the reflections from the rocks and help the colours and textures of the surrounding scenery stand out. It’s also a good idea to include the rocks and ferns in the foreground to add depth and a sense of scale. I keep trying to keep the security fence out of the image.

To further improve your waterfall photography skills, check out our guide on how to photograph waterfalls. This guide provides helpful tips and techniques, such as how to use a slow shutter speed to create a smooth effect on the water. With these tips and tricks, I’m sure you will create stunning images of Granny Falls in Colliery Dam Park.

How to get to Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo and what entrance to use

  • From the Nanaimo Parkway
  • Turn onto Fifth St.
  • Turn right onto Wakesaiah Ave.
  • Drive into the Colliery Dam Parking lot.
  • Alternate route – to the Dog Off-leash area.
  • Turn right off of Wakesaisah Ave at the 4 ways on to Nanaimo Lake RD.
  • Travel 1.7 KLM to the parking lot.

Map to Colliery Dam park in Nanaimo

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can swim in Colliery Dam Park. The park has three small swimming beaches on the upper lake which are popular destinations in the summer. The park is 28 hectares with over 2.5 KLM of trails, which makes it an ideal spot for swimming. It’s also a great spot for fishing and hiking, as well as exploring caves formed during the ice age. Access to the park is available on 7th Street and Nanaimo Lakes Road.

Granny Falls is located within the park and can be found by going to the highest point in the park. The wooden pedestrian bridge and walkway can be found near the middle of the lake. Once you’ve crossed the wooden boardwalk, head towards the culvert. Follow the dirt path till you reach the Granny Falls.

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