Aguasabon Falls, Ontario

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Aguasabon Falls in April 2012

Aguasabon Falls is another of the impressive waterfalls in Ontario near the Lake Superior shoreline. A very short distance from the Transcanadian Highway 17, you can find Aguasabon Falls dropping 110′ into a gorge, which then turns sharply and heads downstream into Lake Superior.

It’s an impressive sight, though it is a bit difficult to get a full view of the falls with the trees in view. And yet the geology around the falls is stunning. There’s something about the rock formations around Lake Superior that is amazing, and Aguasabon Falls doesn’t disappoint.

It’s very close to the Transcanadian Highway, and it’s also a very short hike to the falls. If you’d like to explore further down the gorge, you can also drive down a few other roads and explore the creek/river, where you’ll find Lower Aguasabon Falls. It’s nowhere near as tall as Aguasabon Falls, though it’s a great way to see both Lake Superior and the river.

Directions:

  1. From Transcanadian Highway 17 in Terrace Bay, turn right onto Augasabon Gorge Road (assuming that you are headed east initially).
  2. Drive to the end of Augasabon Gorge Road, and the short hike to the falls will start here.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 110′
Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Aguasabon Falls?

High Falls of the Pigeon River, Minnesota/Ontario

High Falls of the Pigeon River is an amazing waterfall that is on the border of both the United States and Canada. You can view it from the Minnesota side or the Ontario side of the border. Each of them has great views, and I’ve seen them from both.

On the Minnesota side, you start at Grand Portage State Park. From this park, you follow the Falls Trail to a viewing area that leads you to a spectacular viewpoint. You’re not at the base of the falls, but the trail does lead you in front of the base. It’s an easy hike along a relatively flat trail.

High Falls Minnesota side (9)

The view of High Falls from the Minnesota side

On the Ontario side, it seemed much quieter, almost eerily so. It wasn’t the sunniest of days, but I don’t remember many other people there. I believe you start at the Ontario Travel Information Center and follow the trail that leads to the falls. I don’t remember this one being particularly difficult either. On the Ontario side, you view the falls from “above” instead of directly in front of you. It’s still an awesome view as the falls are so powerful. You also have a good view of some of the logging equipment that was used at the falls in the past.

High Falls Ontario side (21)

The view from Ontario

It’s definitely worth a trip to see High Falls. At 120′, it’s the tallest waterfall in Minnesota. (Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls is taller than this, and there may be a few other Ontario waterfalls that are taller.) There are two smaller waterfalls upstream, Lower Middle Falls and Upper Middle Falls, that are much easier to access from the Ontario side.

Directions:

  1. This one is pretty difficult to miss. From Minnesota, head north on MN-61 until you’re just about to reach Customs & Border Patrol. On your left will be Grand Portage State Park. Hike 0.5 miles to the falls from the parking area.
  2. If you’re coming from Ontario, follow ON-61 south. Again, just before the border, pull into the Travel Information Center and follow the trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy on Minnesota side), 8/10 (easy on Ontario side)
Height: 120′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip (Minnesota), 3.6 miles round-trip (Ontario)

Where in the World is High Falls of the Pigeon River?

Current River Falls, Ontario

I should first of all say that I’m not really sure what to call this waterfall. I believe it is on the Current River that flows through Thunder Bay. Trowbridge Falls seems to be on the same river, though I feel that specific portion may be further upstream. This drop is downstream from the Boulevard Lake Dam, so I could even imagine it being called Boulevard Lake Falls.

Whatever its name, it doesn’t matter significantly. It is not the tallest or most impressive waterfall in the region, but it is probably one of the easiest to find if you are visiting Thunder Bay for a day. It is in the downtown area, and you may pass it by without noticing. There is a dam upstream, which might make you think twice before stopping, but this does seem to be a natural drop. The area does have a somewhat less private feel, as there are numerous buildings to the north of the falls.

Directions:

  1. As you’re driving through Thunder Bay, take Highway 17B. (This is worthwhile no matter what because it follows the lake shoreline.)
  2. The name along the road changes several times. As you’re heading north, it changes from Water Street to Cumberland Street. You will find the falls along the stretch that is Cumberland Street.
  3. Just before the road turns into Hodder Avenue, Highway 17B crosses over the Current River, and if you look to the left (if heading north), you will see a park next to the river, with the dam in view. You can stop there and walk the short distance to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: roadside
Height: ~30′

Current River Falls in April 2012

Where in the World is Current River Falls?

Lower Aguasabon Falls, Ontario

Near the town of Terrace Bay, you can find the relatively tall Aguasabon Falls. Searching around, I had read that there may be another falls further downstream on the Aguasabon River. I remembered that it was supposed to be near the beach/shoreline, and so I tried to figure out someway to see if the falls were there and also easily accessible.

Well, they are easily accessible, though maybe not obvious. It took me a little extra time to find them, considering that at one point I ended up along a road that was clearly not leading to a beach area. I backtracked, and found the sign that was indicating the beach (or maybe it was to the docks). I followed that sign, and after a short but winding drive, I ended up at the beach. Looking upstream, the falls were in sight.

I decided to explore a little bit. There was a trail (Casque Isles Trail) that ran parallel to the river, but that did not lead to any closer views of the falls. Instead, the best way to get closer to the falls is to walk VERY close to the river. There are enough rocks and sand that this is not difficult to do, and you will end up standing in front of the falls. The total drop on the river at this point is larger than it first appears. I’d guess it’s probably 15-20′, though no single drop is that tall. If you decide to visit Aguasabon Falls, take the time to visit its smaller relative. Even if the falls don’t excite you, you’ll still be rewarded with beautiful views of Lake Superior.

Directions:

  1. From Transcanadian Highway 17 in Terrace Bay, turn right onto Lakeview Drive (assuming that you are headed east initially).
  2. Almost immediately turn left onto Cartier Drive.
  3. Drive a short distance to Beach Road. There should be a sign indicating a golf course in that direction. Turn left onto Beach Road.
  4. Drive to the very end of Beach Road. You should be at the mouth of the Aguasabon River, and from there, the falls are in view.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, you can see the falls from the parking lot), 8/10 (easy/moderate) to get a closer view
Height: ~20′
Hike: None necessary (though short hike to the falls possible)

Lower Aguasabon Falls in late April 2012

Where in the World is Lower Aguasabon Falls?

Rainbow Falls, Ontario

I took a short weekend trip to Thunder Bay at the end of April, and one of my goals was to try and hit a number of waterfalls along the Trans-Canada Highway. Many of the interesting waterfalls are found along or near the main highway. Rainbow Falls is some distance west of the Schreiber/Terrace Bay area, and on my initial journey east, I actually passed the park the falls are located in, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. The signs seemed to indicate that it was a campground entrance, but in reality it was the entrance to the park.

It ended up that I turned and started driving back west the same day. I then turned into the signs I had originally passed. Since it was the end of April, the park was actually “closed”, to my surprise. You could turn onto the main road in the park, and park your car in a small area near the main gate…But the gate was actually closed to prevent anyone from driving further into the park.

In this case, I just decided to start hiking along the main road. Normally, you would be able to drive down this road, and get much closer to the falls. The hike along the main road doesn’t add a considerable amount of time to your journey, and it is relatively enjoyable. Once you get to the parking area designated for the falls, you can begin exploring. There are numerous parts to the falls, though the whole set of drops cannot be photographed easily.

Stairs lead you up and down near the falls. This is very nice, but may also limit your ability to explore portions of the falls. In late April, this specific falls seemed to be flowing pretty well, and so that may have been a very good thing that visitors were unable to deviate. The falls are interesting, but in the end, you may be frustrated by the inability to capture the “whole” falls, or really the complexity of the falls.

Directions:

  1. The falls are relatively easy to find, as they are right off of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 17). They are not too far west of Schreiber, which is a small town. They are a more significant drive from Thunder Bay.
  2. If you are headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway, the entrance to the park will be on your right. As I said, I think the sign also indicates a campground.
  3. Depending on the time of year, the gate to the road leading closer to the falls may or may not be open. There may be a fee to enter, though there was no gate attendant and I don’t remember there being a self-pay station.

(Note:  I support state and provincial parks, and have no problem paying for entry into parks. Ontario, though, often does not have gate agents, and instead has self-pay kiosks. Entry into many of the parks in Ontario is at least $5.50 for an hour or two, and the kiosks I’ve visited only accept coins…Therefore, plan on bringing a lot of change! It’s a slight annoyance, I guess.)

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, stairs!)
Height: ~80′ (don’t quote me on this one)
Hike: 1 mile round-trip (approximately, depends on how far you go along trails)

The lower portion of Rainbow Falls in April 2012, with some barely-visible portions of the falls.

The uppermost portion of the falls.

Where in the World is Rainbow Falls?

Kakabeka Falls, Ontario

Ever since visiting the North Shore of Minnesota and truly enjoying my time there, I have wanted to visit the area further north on the Canadian side. This past weekend, I flew into Thunder Bay, and the first waterfall I headed to was Kakabeka Falls, one of the more widely known in Ontario. At over 130′ tall, it is one of the taller falls around Lake Superior.

Now it’s the end of April, and I’ll first of all point out there was a LOT less water flowing over the falls than I expected. There must have been a lot less snowfall than normal, because the flow at Kakabeka Falls and other falls in the area seemed greatly diminished.  I understand the flow is partially controlled by a dam, but I’ve seen pictures during the weekdays that have more water than this. Oh well…waterfalls are unpredictable!

The falls are impressive, but I’m not sure that they fall into my “Favorites” category. While the falls have good viewpoints, they seems “far away.” I’m not really sure why…Maybe being in the gorge would provide a greater sense of the size. I found Little Falls, Kakabeka Falls’ smaller counterpart, to be more interesting because I could get up close and personal.

Directions:

  1. From Thunder Bay, head west on Trans-Canada highway 11/17.
  2. About 30 km from Thunder Bay, you’ll come upon the entrance to Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park on your left.
  3. Park and pay the entrance fee.  It was $5.25 for 2 hours, $6.75 for 4 hours, or $10.50 for a whole day.  I visited both Kakabeka and Little Falls, and it took less than 2 hours.  (A number of Ontario parks have self-pay machines that are automated and ONLY accept 25 cent, $1, and $2 coins, so bring CHANGE…it’s my pet peeve of Ontario parks.)
  4. From there, head to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 131′
Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip (along Boardwalk Trail)

Kakabeka Falls in late-April 2012

Where in the World is Kakabeka Falls?

Middle Falls of the Pigeon River, Minnesota/Ontario

The Pigeon River forms a portion of the border between Minnesota and Ontario. On the Minnesota side, you can visit Grand Portage State Park. The most popular (understandably) waterfall in Grand Portage State Park is the High Falls of the Pigeon River, which are very impressive. They are also easy to visit!

There are a number of other waterfalls on the Pigeon River, though, that don’t get nearly as much attention. If on the Minnesota side, it’s again understandable. One of the falls, Partridge Falls, is not necessarily easy to access because of rough road. Middle Falls, where there seems to be two different portions, can be accessed from the park entrance, though it requires a 2.5 mile hike one-way. This hike is by no means on flat ground, and it is steep at points, though by no means terrible. There is no simple boardwalk to the falls, though! Once you get there, you may be slightly disappointed, since High Falls is so much taller and more impressive. I would say the solitude you will experience at the Middle Falls would be a positive, but it was pretty quiet at the High Falls when I visited in mid-May.

As a side note, if you go to the Ontario side of the river, you will likely have a much easier time visiting these falls. From the Minnesota side, you can actually see the road that hugs the river, leading almost directly to the falls. So if you don’t want a workout, I would suggest that.

Directions (from Minnesota)

  1. Head north on MN-61 from Grand Portage to the entrance of Grand Portage State Park. You’ll see the border gate as you’re turning in.
  2. From the parking area, start along the trail toward High Falls. You should be heading west.
  3. Instead of heading toward High Falls, continue along the Middle Falls Trail. It is at least 1.6 miles one-way. Near the end of the trail, the trail splits (and creates a circle). The left fork in the trail leads you to the falls quicker, and I would even return from that direction. The right fork, adds a longer distance, and didn’t hold any interest for me.

Directions (from Ontario)

  1. On ON-61, find Route 593. Head west on Route 593, where after about 1 mile (maybe even less), you’ll pass a parking area on your LEFT. It’s really the only parking area, so turn in. If you’re unsure, there’s a sign in the parking area to indicate your near the falls.
  2. Walk along the old road upstream to the falls.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/difficult, from Minnesota), 9/10 (easy, from Ontario)
Height: 15′
Hike: 5.0 mile hike round-trip (in Minnesota), 0.5 miles round-trip (in Ontario)

Middle Falls in May 2010 (from the Minnesota side)

Update: Alright, so I had a chance to visit Middle Falls when I was in the Thunder Bay area in late April 2012, and I can tell you, that for the most part, it is much easier to visit the Ontario side of the falls. The only difficulty is a minor one…There is no large sign indicating that you’re passing the parking area for the falls. I ended up passing the parking area, and turned around because I felt I had gone too far. I was correct in my hunch, as the parking area I saw was for the much shorter hike to the falls. On the Minnesota side, it’s a 3+ mile hike one-way…In Ontario, it’s about a 1/4 of a mile.  I also feel the views are somewhat better on the Ontario side.  For a while, I wasn’t even sure I was looking at the same waterfall.

Middle Falls in April 2012 (from the Ontario side)

 

Where in the World is Lower Middle Falls?