Kakabeka Falls – The Niagara of the North

On a whim I booked a trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is only a 1.5 hour flight north from Toronto, but takes 18 hours to drive there as you have to take a circular route around the Great Lakes. I usually love road trips, but with cheap flights and car rentals, I actually saved money (and a lot of time!) by flying on this quick trip.

Kakabeka Falls, the Niagara Falls of the North

View of Kakabeka Falls from the Visitor Centre Viewing Platform


One of the natural attractions that lured me here was Kakabeka Falls. The self-proclaimed ‘Niagara of the North’, Kakabeka Falls is located just off the Trans-Canada Highway about 100km from downtown Thunder Bay.

Boardwalk to view Kakabeka Falls

Accessible Boardwalk at Kakabeka Falls Visitor centre


It is a Provincial Park in Ontario, so visitor payments go towards protecting and operating the park as well as it’s hiking trails and campgrounds. You can pay $5 for a two hour permit or choose from longer options if you want to make a full day trip out of it. I didn’t camp here, but many of the sites looked to be large and well-treed for privacy.

The falls themselves are a nice split waterfall. The height is impressive as they drop down into a deep gorge. The park provide accessible boardwalks on either side of the falls so that you can get some great photos from close to the edge of the gorge. Annoyingly though, the park and highway bridges are placed beyond the height of the falls meaning that they’re a bit of an eyesore for any full landscape photos. Nonetheless, you can get some great waterfall shots here.

Kakabeka Falls - Landscape View

Kakabeka Falls and the Park Bridge


As for the ‘Niagara of the North’ title, Kakabeka Falls doesn’t quite live up to the expectation. Think of it more as a mini-Niagara. What it does offer is a great natural environment with plenty of hiking trails (almost 20km) in the park and an opportunity to appreciate nature without the crowds. When I visited in September I only saw 10-15 other people in the entire park.

Close-up of Kakabeka Falls

Close-up of Kakabeka Falls from the eastern Viewing Platform


For a quick hiking trail that offers some different perspectives of the falls and the Kaministiquia River, take the short and easy Mountain Portage trail. The trail has a few lookouts and also provides a glimpse of the nearby power generating station, which was first built more than 100 years ago. Bald eagles are also commonly seen in the trees along the edge of the gorge here, so keep an eye for them – I saw one, but it was too far away to get a great photo.

Powerplant near Kakabeka Falls

Powerplant near Kakabeka Falls


The visitor centre here also has plenty of picnic tables and open space to sit and enjoy the sound of the falls, making it a great spot for a family picnic. A worthwhile, relaxing place to stop if you find yourself in Thunder Bay, or plan to head out on a Cross-Canada road trip.

The Mountain Portage trail at Kakabeka Falls

Easy-walking Mountain Portage Trail


Kakabeka Falls from a distance

Kakabeka Falls from Mountain Portage Trail


About Red Hunt

A former journalist and business analyst that now works in the world of travel marketing. Based in Toronto, Red Hunt has travelled to more than 40 countries over the past 10 years. You can follow Red on Twitter @redhunttravel.