Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: September 2021
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is located just west of Thunder Bay. It features the second largest waterfall in Ontario, which is commonly referred to as the Niagara of the North. The park contains a number of viewing platforms and trails that provide excellent views of Kakabeka Falls and the surrounding area.
We were initially supposed to camp at Kakabeka Falls the night before. But it had rained throughout the day and the weather forecast was calling for even more rain overnight. It didn’t take much (or any) convincing for us to stay in a hotel in Thunder Bay instead. After spending the morning hiking in Pigeon River Provincial Park, we arrived at Kakabeka Falls in the early afternoon.
After eating some lunch at the picnic area, we set off to hike along the Boardwalk Trail (750m one-way, rated easy). The trail consists of a wide boardwalk and features several viewing platforms at different angles and viewpoints of Kakabeka Falls, the Kaministiquia River and the gorge below.
We then followed the path to the Visitor Centre to get to the trailhead for the Mountain Portage Trail (1.25km loop, rated easy). This trail is part of the historic portage that early travellers and voyageurs used from 1800 to 1820 to bypass the falls and to connect Lake Superior with Lake of the Woods and the West. It was later abandoned in favour of the shorter Grand Portage-Pigeon River route.
The trail is predominantly flat and the path is lined with gravel. There are a few benches and interpretive signs that provide more information about the Mountain Portage.
Mid-way through, the path connects with the Little Falls Trail (2.5km loop, rated moderate to difficult), which is also part of the historic Mountain Portage and leads down the slopes to the river below. We hiked counter-clockwise along the loop, which is arguably the best direction as there’s a super steep hill at the end, which is probably easier to climb up then down. The path winds through the forest, leads to Little Falls, follows a creek and then meanders along the river bank.
Towards the end there’s a super steep climb up a ridge to get back to the trailhead. We then hiked the rest of the Mountain Portage Trail, which features a few viewing platforms over the Kaministiquia River and gorge below. The gorge was carved through the rocks by melting glaciers and continues to be shaped by the falls.
Once we returned to the trailhead, we hiked along part of the Boardwalk Trail again, crossed the bridge, and walked back to the parking lot. It was nice to stretch our legs as we still had another hour and a half of driving to reach our next destination at Quetico Provincial Park where we planned to spend the night.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here