Kakabeka Falls: 5 reasons to stop on your next cross country trip

The breathtaking waterfalls at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park are easily accessed right off the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Thunder Bay.

It had been quite a few years since I had visited Kakabeka Falls when I decided to stop while on a road trip this summer. In the past, I had only viewed the falls from the highway side. This year, we decided to spend some time and cross the bridge to the other side of the waterfalls, and I'm so glad I did! I am truly amazed by the beauty and power of the waterfalls.

The iron-stained water of the Kaministiquia River drops 40 meters (130ft) into a gorge carved out of the Precambrian Shield. The Kam River has cut deep into the rocks to reveal 1.6 million-year-old fossils at the bottom of the falls! The escarpments along the gorge that you can see from the observation decks are composed primarily of unstable shale and are eroding. Due to the fragile rock, access to the gorge below the falls is prohibited.

Here are 5 reasons you must stop at Kakabeka Falls next time you are in Northwest Ontario

1. Easy to get to

Like many other waterfalls in Northwest Ontario, Kakabeka Falls is easily accessible. In fact, it's literally right off Highway 11/17. You exit, you park, and the first view of the waterfalls is right there, a mere 100 ft (or less!) from your car. Kakabeka Falls is only about 32km (20 miles) west of Thunder Bay.

2. The falls are not commercialized

Kakabeka Falls is located within the Provincial Park and thus is set in a wilderness setting. The closest thing to commercialization would be the few souvenirs to purchase at the Ontario Parks Store in the Visitor Centre. Boardwalks and viewing platforms offer excellent views on both sides of the Kaministiquia River. The Natural Heritage Education Program is based at the Visitor Centre where you can find information on the park, enjoy interpretive programs during summer months and speak to a Naturalist.

From a viewing platform you can not only see the waterfalls, but also the gorge across the river. The Kam River has cut a gorge throught the rock layers exposing the spirits and stories of 2 billion years ago.
From a viewing platform, you can not only see the waterfalls, but also the gorge across the river. The Kam River has cut a gorge through the rock layers exposing the spirits and stories of 2 billion years ago.

3. Trails and viewing decks are easily accessed

The Boardwalk Trail begins at the parking lot and wraps around the falls. It is wheelchair accessible with viewing platforms along the trail. The view from the pedestrian bridge is amazing. When you view the falls later in the season, like I did in mid-August, the water is fairly calm on top, reminding me of an infinity pool. I've seen photos in the Spring where the view from the pedestrian bridge shows rapidly gushing water before plunging over the falls. 

The wheelchair accessible Mountain Portage Trail at Kakabeka Falls
The wheelchair-accessible Mountain Portage Trail at Kakabeka Falls

The Mountain Portage Trail is a 1.25km trail that starts near the Visitor Centre and follows in part the portage that early travelers used to traverse around Kakabeka Falls. The trail provides great views of the falls, gorge, and river. The trail is gravel, however, it is flat, and wide, and pushing a stroller should be fairly easy if you have young ones.

The Mountain Portage connected Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods
The Mountain Portage connected Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods

The Little Falls Trail is one that I didn't go down but wished I would have. It splits downward from the Mountain Portage Trail. The trail meanders along the river bank, then follows a creek to a smaller waterfall. This trail is not wheelchair accessible.

4. Great views of the falls from many angles

The boardwalks and viewing decks make it possible to see the falls from various places. My favourite place to view the falls was the first viewing decks just after you cross the bridge. You can see the water just as it's going over the edge. It's a bit more rugged on this side, with more variation in the rock. At one point farther along you could see the waterfalls and the gorge wrap around at the same time.

Watching the waterfalls at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
Watching the waterfalls at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

5. It's a bargain!

For the price of parking a mere couple of bucks an hour, you can visit the waterfalls - the second-highest waterfalls open year-round in Ontario. Not sure what other attractions can be so beautiful to see and yet so inexpensive. You can easily tour the waterfall by paying only for an hour of parking.

The Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park also has a campground if you'd like to stay longer than a visit to the falls. You can call 1-888-668-7275 to reserve or reserve a campsite online. If you are just going to the waterfalls, there's no need to reserve just pull in and get a parking pass.

Plan to stop in at Kakabeka Falls the next time you are driving the Trans-Canada Highway near Thunder Bay, it's such a great view. Plus you can have a picnic in the park, use the washroom and stretch your legs. Enjoy!


About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

Recommended Articles

Curious as to which fish species are in your favourite lake?

Use this interactive map to find out.

New Restrictions on What You Can Bring into Canada

Keep up to dates with the changes.

A Beginner's Guide to Ice Fishing in Canada

(With a few tips for the seasoned fishermen too!)

8 facts you didn't know about moose

Just how big is a moose anyway?

Renew Your Outdoors Card, Online!

It's never been easier to buy your Ontario fishing license and Outdoors Card

Get a Line on Lasting Ice Fishing Memories

Check out these tips for a day on the ice that brings the family together.

White Otter Castle: The Incredible Story of the Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere

Imagine single-handedly building this massive structure in the middle of the wilderness?

Giant Pike on Ice

Tips & techniques for catching big pike through the ice.

Rent an Ice Hut in Sunset Country

Make the most of winter in Northwestern Ontario with a unique ice fishing experience

Tips for Spring Walleye Fishing

Find out the best places to find walleyes.

10 Facts About Lac Seul

How many of these did you know?

Canada's Gemstone Capital: Mining Amethyst in Thunder Bay

Purple is our favourite fall colour. ;)

Trout on Ice

EVERYTHING you need to know about ice fishing for trout

Muskie Fishing After the Spawn

Tips from the expert

Secluded Cottage Rentals

You won't believe what's available at some of these remote lodges!

4 of the Best Hunting Trips in Ontario

Bear, moose, deer, and duck—check out these incredible hunting opportunities.

3 of the best places to see the northern lights

Where will you be when you see the sky dance?

Guided Ice Fishing

Ice fishing outfitters who can get you on a hard-water fish or two of a lifetime

Winter's Magical transitions

Experience the boreal in a whole new way.

New Ontario ATV Laws

Stay safe on your all-terrain vehicle