Kakabeka Falls, also called the Niagara of the North, are located in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. They 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. In winter, you’ll likely have Kakabeka Falls to yourself.
The falls are 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.
Kakabeka Falls summary
There is a fee to enter Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. The price to enter the park will vary depending on whether you have a year-long pass, a seasonal pass or a day use permit.
Enjoy year-round viewing of Kakabeka Falls.
The Kaministiquia River has eroded the rocks to expose 1.6 million-year-old fossils at the bottom of the falls.
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park was established in 1957. The park protects the magnificent falls themselves, as well as sites within the park that have cultural, geological and natural importance.
Kakabeka Falls is easy to view
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 Kakabeka Falls from all angles. There are several areas to enjoy a picnic near the falls as well.
Kakabeka Falls are part of a historic canoe route
Kakabeka Falls are on an historic route the voyageurs 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 km Mountain Portage Trail.
If you want to see more of the area add on the 2.5 km 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.
A few interesting facts about the falls
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.
Stromatolites found in Kakabeka Falls are almost two billion years old.
The Mountain Portage around the falls formed a link in the historic canoe route connecting Lake Superior with Lake of the Woods and the west. The Mountain Portage was used by explorers, fur traders, soldiers, and surveyers.
Camping in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
If you want to spend more time in the area there are three campgrounds in the provincial park, with two of them close to the falls and river. The third campground – Whispering Hills, is very close to the 3.8 km Poplar Point Trail. The campground is open from May 12, 2023 to October 10, 2023.
Kakabeka Falls in winter
The falls are largely deserted in winter, but they are still 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.
Location map of the falls
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.