|Distance||1.1 miles roundtrip|
- Second highest waterfall in Ontario
- Easy access from Thunder Bay
- Learn history about the area
While you've probably heard of the highest waterfall in Ontario over in Niagara Falls, this second place waterfall provides a much nicer experience (mostly because there aren't casinos and hotels adjacent to the falls). I arrived on an early Friday afternoon with cloudy skies (the day before Canada's 150th birthday), and I was impressed by how few people were around. No need to fight hordes of tourists with selfie sticks to take a photo here! Dogs are allowed on leash. Both the boardwalk and the Mountain Portage Trail are accessible, which means this is also a perfect place for kids in strollers.
This hike is straightforward. When you exit your car, follow the sound of the thundering falls to find the boardwalk. The boardwalk makes a horseshoe shape, and you will hike from one side, cross the bridge, then hike the other side. There are a few optional platforms with stairs -- the mist from the falls makes these slippery, watch your step!
Retrace your steps to return to the other side. The Mountain Portage Trail starts on the south side of the small parking area by the vistor center. The trail is compacted gravel and lined with wood -- very well constructed as you can see in the image below. I recommend you follow the loop counter-clockwise to save the best part for last.
This park is only about 30 minutes from Thunder Bay. Follow the Trans-Canada Highway (Ontario Highway 11/17) west. Drive through the village of Kakabeka Falls, then turn left shortly after the village into the park -- there should be an Ontario Parks sign here for Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. Pay the vehicle fee at the machine, then continue on the park road across the bridge. Turn left after the bridge, following signs for the visitor center.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
It is important to note that this is a provincial park and does not belong to the Canadian National Parks System, thus any national parks pass you may have is not valid admission here. Parking in Ontario Parks requires a $11.25 (Canadian) vehicle fee for day use, $175 (Canadian) for an annual pass, or $125 (Canadian) for a summer pass (valid April to November). You may also pay by the hour at this park, and one hour should be sufficient to do the hike described here. The fee is payable at a machine on the drive in that accepts cash and credit/debit (card must have a chip). Parking is in a paved lot adjacent to the visitor center with park information, a shop, and flush toilets and several picnic areas nearby.