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A Trip To Kakabeka Falls Near Thunder Bay

A Trip to Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay

Kakabeka Falls, also called the Niagara of the North, are the second highest waterfalls in Ontario with a drop of 40 metres. They are truly magnificent and worth a stop at any time of the year.

They make a great year-round stop if you need a break from driving the Trans-Canada Highway or if you’re visiting the Thunder Bay area especially as Kakabeka Falls are only a 25 – 30 minute drive west of town. You can camp at the falls too, and then head out on one of the many nature trails.

Boardwalks and observations platforms for easy Kakbeka Falls viewing

Kah-kah-pee-kah means sheer cliff in Ojibway, a fitting name when you see the landscape. You can enjoy both the falls and the gorge from a boardwalk and observation platforms on both sides of the Kaministiquia River.

The views are very different so if you have the time be sure to view the falls from all angles. There are several areas to enjoy a picnic near the falls as well.

The falls are part of a historic route

Kakabeka Falls are on an historic route the yoyageurs used. You’ll especially appreciate the hardships they endured carrying 90 pound loads on trails that were not nearly as easy to negotiate as they are now by hiking the 1.1 kilometre Mountain Portage Trail.

If you want to see more of the area add on the 2.5 kilometre Little Falls Trail. While most of it is in the woods you do get a chance to see Little Falls – and some lovely views of the river.

Our first view of the falls - the Niagara of the North
Our first view of Kakabeka Falls – the Niagara of the North
 A walkway takes you very close to the edge of the falls
A walkway takes you very close to the edge of Kakabeka Falls
On a summer weekday Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is quite busy
On a summer weekday Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is quite busy
Looking downstream from the falls along the Kaministiquia River
Looking downstream from the falls along the Kaministiquia River

A few interesting facts about Kakabeka Falls

At the bottom of Kakabeka Falls the Kaministiquia River has eroded the rocks to expose 1.6 million year old fossils.

Again at the base of the falls, the endangered Lake Sturgeon spawn.

In the fall you might see bald eagles below the falls feeding on the spawning salmon.

In spring these falls would be an amazing sight to see
In spring these falls would be an amazing sight to see
And this isn't even peak volume
And this isn’t even peak volume
Explore the area around the falls on signed trails
Explore the area around the falls on signed trails
Look for these falls if you hike the Little Falls trail
Look for these falls if you hike the Little Falls trail
The Little Falls Trail provides a different view up the river[
The Little Falls Trail provides a different view up the river

Camping in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

If you want to spend more time in the area there are three campgrounds in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, with two of them close to the falls and river. The third campground – Whispering Hills, is very close to the 3.8 kilometre Poplar Point Trail. The campground is open from early May until Thanksgiving weekend.

Kakabeka Falls in winter

While Kakabeka Falls is largely deserted in winter, it sure is a pretty place to visit with the falls ice-covered. Even the canyon walls get are snow and ice-covered. They look more like a painting than the real thing.

I stopped to take photos – with nary a soul around – though I understand all the summer hiking and nature trails become groomed cross-country ski trails in winter. If you’re in the Thunder Bay area it’s definitely worth the 25 minute drive.

The power of Kakabeka is still very much in evidence in winter
The power of Kakabeka Falls is still very much in evidence in winter
Looking down the icy canyon
Looking down the icy canyon
Me in awe of the power
Me in awe of the power of the falls even in winter

There is a fee to enter the park of $12.25 per vehicle in 2020.

Visit the Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park website for more information.

Where to stay in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay has its first new full service hotel in years that opened in May 2019 – the Delta Hotels by Marriott Thunder Bay – a great addition to the city with its location on the waterfront.

The Hampton Inn & Suites would be another excellent choice.

Other posts related to northern Ontario

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A Trip to Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay

Thank you to Ontario Parks and Ontario Travel for help in making this trip possible.

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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