Third Vault Falls is a towering 16-meter waterfall surrounded by a rock amphitheatre in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. In early October, I solo hiked Third Vault Falls Trail. All I knew about this hike was that it led to the tallest waterfall in Fundy. Having now completed it, I can now say with confidence that this is one of my favourite hikes in Atlantic Canada.
The waterfall was stunning and so too were the autumn colours along the trail. I spent over an hour at the waterfall, taking in the sights and eating breakfast with the most spectacular view. I hope this post inspires you to visit Third Vault Falls.
Third Vault Falls Trail
Third Vault Falls Trail is a 7.3km linear in-and-out route. The trail weaves through an Acadian Forest with many spruce, birch, and maple trees.
It takes 3-4 hours to complete this hike. The majority of the trail is flat and wide with a slight decline on the way in. Like many of Fundy’s trails, the route is covered with exposed roots and rocks.
The beginning of the trail feels like any other walk through the forest, but don’t let that fool you! It’s going to get more beautiful and more difficult!
The final portion of the trail (last 0.8km) is where you run into a steep decline with questionable footing in areas. I later learned that some people hike all the way out here only to turn around because the terrain is too steep. While the steepest areas do have staircases to help you with the descent, one section is quite challenging. Do be careful and consider the difficulty before heading out.
Another issue people have is losing the trail before getting to Third Vault Falls. Take note of the map at the trailhead. The map shows that you need to enter into Upper Vault Brook to complete the hike. That’s right, the final staircase leads you directly into water. You’ll be walking over slippery wet rocks or wading into the water.
This was my favourite part of the trail, but it might be difficult to complete depending on your fitness and level of experience. I wouldn’t recommend it for small children. Luckily, it’s only a small section (3-5 minutes) until you round a corner and see Third Vault Falls in all its glory!
Picnics and Swimming Pools
If you make it to the falls, reward yourself with a nice lunch or a cool dip in this natural swimming pool!
While the waterfall area is rocky, there are lots of places where you could set up a picnic. If you beat the crowd, you’ll find there’s a couple large rocks that are perfect for this purpose. On a cool autumn day, it’s nice to bring a compact backpacking stove to make some tea.
The small natural swimming pool at the base of the waterfall is frigid, but a popular place to swim in July and August. I recommend water shoes to save your feet from cuts and bruises.
You can see many of the emblematic Acadian Forest spring flowers on this trail including: painted trilliums, red trilliums, trout lilies, and spring-beauties. When I visited in the fall, there were lots of mushrooms including: boletes, turkey tail, waxcaps, and coral fungus.
There are many red squirrels on this trail. In the autumn, they are busy foraging for winter supplies. I saw several of them scurrying across the trail. Parks Canada guides say you are likely to come across several bird species here including: black-throated blue warblers, blackburnian warblers and many different species of woodpeckers.
There is a small parking lot at the trailhead. It’s free to access so long as you have a park pass. There is an outhouse at the parking lot.
If you are prone to rolling your ankles (like me!), bring shoes or hiking boots with adequate ankle support to navigate all the exposed roots and rocks. You’ll also want to wear shoes that you can get wet or carry an extra pair of water shoes in your backpack. In the winter, bring ice grips for your shoes.
Hiking poles can help navigate some of the more difficult parts of this trail including wet rocks and steep declines.
This trail could be dangerous for some, including young children. Watch children around slippery rocks.
Dogs are allowed on the trail, but must be leashed.
Want to see more of this trail? Check out my Instagram highlight: Third Vault.
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iNaturalist. Fundy National Park.