I had had Archway Falls on my to-do list since I had come across it on the very interesting and useful Waterfalls of Nova Scotia web site. Since I was already in the area, I decided to try and locate them. I knew from the web page that they are on the Big Brook Road roughly half way between the communities of River Denys to the north and West Bay Road to the south. This particular day, I came via the West Bay Road from the community of West Bay. In the community of West Bay Road, the railroad tracks cross Cenotaph Road heading north just beyond the start of the Big Brook Road and they run more or less parallel to Big Brook Road on the left for 4.2 km (2⅝ mi), at which point they cross Big Brook Road and run on its right. At 5.4 km (3⅓ mi) north of the start of Big Brook Road, you will arrive at a small bridge across the road. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this bridge marks the site of the falls; I neither saw nor heard the falls as I drove by the first time. I continued on Big Brook Road for another 1.7 km (1 mi) and reached another rail crossing just past the junction with Maccuish Road; I knew then I had gone too far, so I turned around and drove back past the falls again and without seeing them. Another U turn got the same result. On the fourth traversal, I finally took notice of the bridge and decided to investigate it on foot; when I did so, the falls were directly in front of me. Not much water was flowing this day, making them much less spectacular than in the web page’s photos, but they are quite pretty even so and I judged them definitely worth seeking out. Being right close to the road, no trek is necessary to see them, so this is among the easiest of waterfalls to enjoy. Going after a heavy rain or early in the spring run-off will just add to the pleasure.
Photo #1 shows the scene from beside the bridge; unless you can look at the road ahead and at the side of the road at the same time, they are easy to miss, blending into the greenery that lies along the road. The brook that flows under the Roman arch that gives the falls their name and on top of which the train tracks run is an unnamed tributary of Big Brook, which empties into the River Denys near the community of that name.
Photo #2 shows the small nondescript bridge over the unnamed brook on Big Brook Road. If memory serves, it is the only bridge which crosses Big Brook Road between the two aforementioned railway crossings. The falls are at the right of this photo. Note that there is a curve which prevents drivers from having a view of the bridge until they round it: park on the shoulder south of the bridge where drivers have enough distance to see you and slow down; then walk back to the bridge.
I climbed down the bank by the bridge in an attempt to get closer to the falls; if you want to cross beneath the archway, you will need some rubber boots, as the pool below the falls otherwise precludes access to the tunnel. Photo #3 is a look at the falls and the archway itself. The railway between Port Hastings and Sydney began construction in 1887 and was opened in 1891; this archway shows the construction techniques of that era and has well stood the test of time. Hewn of huge blocks of rocks assembled into a weight-bearing arch design dating back millennia, it is interesting to observe in its own right.
Photo #4 shows the detail of the keystone that holds the arch in place and of the adjacent blocks that together form the upper arch and the bed of the railway tracks. It certainly looks capable of surviving for another century or two!
Photo #5 looks at the falls from the side of the pool below the bridge. Although the referenced web site gives their height as 1.2 m (4 ft), I’d say they were closer to 2 m (6 ft); even though the flow was not great this day, they were still impressive from where I was standing.
Photo #6 is another view of the falls from dead on at the edge of the pool by the bridge. It was a cool and lovely spot and I enjoyed the sound of the falls and the beauty of the scene for several minutes before continuing on my way.