If you are looking for an enchanting way to ride out the rest of the summer or early fall, why not tour the coast of Lake Superior and finish your journey at Thunder Bay and Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park? The coastline boasts several different parks that follow Lake Superior north and west. When you reach the lakehead (Thunder Bay, Ontario’s western end of the lake), travel inland to Kakabeka Falls, home to the second largest waterfall in Ontario.
Come for the falls, stay for the fun
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is only 20 minutes west of Thunder Bay via Highway 11 and 17. People flock to Kakabeka Falls from across Ontario, Canada and the world to drink in the beauty of the thundering waterfalls that first captured the attention of European explorer Pierre Jacques Payan de Noyan in 1688. These falls are bewitching in both beauty and power. They measure 39 metres (129 feet) high and 71 metres (232 feet) wide, with a 30 metre (98 foot) gorge extending downstream almost 700 metres (2300 feet).
“Everyone has their own affinity for water, whether it was a family history, a memory from their youth or the fun they had,” says assistant park superintendent Shannon Lawr. “Waterfalls are one of those things to me that are so incredibly powerful yet not intimidating. They draw you in and almost force you to stare at them for an extended period of time.”
And that is exactly what attracts so many people to Kakabeka Falls; except Lawr and his colleague, Barb Rees, natural heritage education specialist for the northwest zone of Ontario Parks, are quick to point out many of the other things you can do at Kakabeka that are worth checking out.
- Camp in one of the 169 campsites (there is a variety of RV and tent sites)
- View the historic route of the Voyageurs
- Have a refreshing swim in a sheltered area of the Kaministiquia River upriver of the falls (beware of strong currents) or pack a picnic and pitch a blanket near the sandy beach
- See if you can spot lake sturgeon spawn at the base of the falls (springtime); considered threatened in Northwestern Ontario.
- From the boardwalks, view the Kaministiquia River. The power of the river has cut deep into the rocks revealing stromatolites (fossils) at the bottom of the falls that are almost two billion years old
- Pick your choice of five walking and hiking trails, including the accessible Boardwalk and Mountain Portage Trails. This trail follows the historic portage that early travellers used to travel around Kakabeka Falls. The trail provides beautiful views of the falls, gorge and river
- Visit the nearby community of Kakabeka Falls via a linking trail
- Keep an eye out for bald eagles and other birds soaring in the canyon that breed in the rock face alongside the canyon walls
- Brush up on your digital photography skills. Watch for a class with Thunder Bay photographer Barry Wojciechowski
- Join in one of the park’s Natural Heritage Education Programs and explore the park’s visitor centre. While there pick up an Ontario Parks’ souvenir. (July & August)
- Take some shots and Tweet them to @OntarioParksNWZ
Kakabeka Falls is also featured in the #CoolThingsinOP video series; check out the video here.
On your way to Kakabeka Falls, consider a visit to these other provincial parks along the Lake Superior coast
Everyone should experience the rugged beauty of Lake Superior once in their lifetime and these provincial parks, including Kakabeka Falls, are there to help visitors enjoy the wonders of this part of the province.
By the way, Lake Superior is considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world and perhaps the most famous, too, featuring 4,387 kilometres (2,726 miles) of shoreline, cliffs and beaches.
Enjoy your trip!