Kakabeka Falls is the second largest waterfall in Ontario and it can be easily seen all year round from the accessible boardwalk and the viewing platforms. At 40 m high, these falls have been nicknamed the “Niagara of the North” because of their size and fame.
Directions to the Trailhead
From Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Head west on Trans-Canada Hwy for approx 25 km
- As you pass through the town of Kakabeka Falls Ontario watch for the Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park sign on the left (south) side of the highway
- Pull in and park in the day-use area.
- There are self-pay parking meters located in the parking lot.
- The Boardwalk Trail starts right from the parking area.
Kakabeka Falls Boardwalk Hike Details
Kakabeka Falls are one of the biggest waterfalls in Ontario and are a must-see on any trip to the Thunder Bay area.
There is a dam that diverts the water for power generation, but they do seem to keep the water flow higher on weekends for visitors all year, but if you want to see the falls at their peak make sure you visit during the spring runoff. When the falls are running high they produce quite a bit of mist which can create rainbows. Personally, I love to visit Kakabeka Falls in the winter.
The falls got their name from the Ojibwa people who were the first to inhabit the area, who gave it the name Kakabeka which is said to mean sheer cliff or thundering waters. Travelers, in the 18th and 19th centuries, had to portage around these huge falls and up the river before they could put their canoes back into the water to travel the Kaministiquia River to Lake of the Woods.
From the day-use parking area, located right off the highway, you will find a wooden boardwalk. This boardwalk provides wheelchair-accessible views of the falls from a few different vantage points as it curves around the falls. Follow the well-signed Boardwalk Trail to a viewing platform right off the parking lot. From there you can follow the trail as it crosses the bridge over the falls to a few more viewing areas on the other side of the falls. The view from the bridge is unique as you get to see the smooth water of the river on one side, and the powerful crashing falls on the other side.
There are some nice spots to picnic and if the park is open you can go into the visitor centre for a look around and to learn more about the cultural history and the geology of the area before making your way on the boardwalk back over the bridge. I always stop for a few more pictures of the falls from the viewing platforms on the parking lot side before heading back to my vehicle.
While you are in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park be sure to visit the other trails they have to offer including the Mountain Portage Trail, Little Falls Trail, Beaver Meadows Trail, and the River Terrace Trail.
Is there camping at Kakabeka Falls?
Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park has three campgrounds available to visitors for camping.
Can you swim at Kakabeka Falls?
The park has two beaches you can swim at when visiting the park.
Can I visit the park in the Winter?
The main park is closed after Canadian Thanksgiving but you can still view the falls and there are cross country and snowshoeing trails and a warm-up hut in the winter season.
Why is the water brown at the Kakabeka Falls?
The water of the Kaministiqua River, which feeds the falls, is stained by the spruce bogs that feed the river upstream.