Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Pigeon River Provincial Park is located along Lake Superior on the mouth of the Pigeon River at the Canada United States Border. It is part of the Voyageur Boundary Waters Canadian Heritage River that protects a system of lakes and rivers that run along the international border of Ontario and Minnesota. It is a day-use park that is open year-round and offers a range of hiking trails that provide countless opportunities to view the river, falls and surrounding area.
Given the weather situation yesterday, we didn’t bother with our campsite at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park and instead booked a last minute hotel in Thunder Bay to avoid the rain. We headed out first thing in the morning. It was overcast and chilly, but there were some blue skies poking out between the clouds. From Thunder Bay, it’s about a 40 minute drive to Pigeon River.
The park is located close to the United States border. When I entered it into Google Maps, it told me that we’d need to cross the border to get to the park, but that’s a lie. We instead parked at the Ontario Travel Information Centre, which is located just before the border crossing.
There’s a few trails that originate from the Ontario Travel Information Centre. We first hiked along the High Falls Trail (2.5km loop). From the Information Centre, we walked towards the park sign. The path branches off, we turned left and walked underneath a tunnel to get to the other side of the road and the High Falls Trail.
After a few hundred metres, the trail splits off again. We made a detour to hike along the Lookout Trail (1.2km one-way) as it is reputed to provide sweeping views of the surrounding area. The trail is predominantly uphill with a few steep sections. The trail then levels out and provides a series of scenic lookouts of Pigeon River and Lake Superior. The last lookout was easily the best and even had a bench for us to take a break.
The trail continues further to Middle Falls, but we turned around and walked back to the High Falls Trail. Once we reached the junction, it’s about 450m to the scenic lookout of the falls. There’s a viewing platform overlooking High Falls, which plunges nearly 30 metres into a steep gorge. From here we could see there was another viewing platform on the opposite side of the falls in Minnesota.
Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a wooden slide to carry logs around the crest of High Falls and into the rock sluice, which channeled logs down into the Pigeon River and in Lake Superior. Remnants from the wooden slide and rock sluice are still visible from the viewing platform.
From here, the trail hugs the shore of the river. There’s even a few staircases to help with the climb back down.
The trail also passes a chimney, which seemed a bit out of place. There was a sign to indicate that it was built in the late 1930s with local rock and that this is all that remains of the resort lodge that once stood here.
Shortly after we reached another plaque that indicates that Pigeon River is part of the Boundary Waters Voyageur Canadian Heritage River. This river was once an important waterway during the fur trade and for transportation. From there, it’s a short stretch back to the trailhead. We crossed underneath the road through the tunnel and returned to our car to drink some water and eat a snack.
We then hiked along the Boardwalk Trail (350m, one-way). The trail leads across a boardwalk to a viewing platform of Lake Superior. The trail connects with the Finger Point Trail, but we turned around and walked back the way that we came as we had other parks to still visit for the day.
From here, it’s about a 45 minute drive to Kakabeka Falls where we planned to eat some lunch and check out some more water falls.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here