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?

Eugenia Falls, Ontario

Eugenia Falls in October 2010

What I recall the most about Eugenia Falls was that I was just a little bit disappointed. Driving southeast from Owen Sound, this waterfall isn’t very difficult to find or visit, so that is definitely a positive. When I visited in October of 2010, there wasn’t a significant amount of water, though. Other photographs online show much more water, and as usual, springtime might be the better time to view the falls.

The gorge walls did seem particularly steep, and because of this, the view is rather distant. There is one viewpoint at the top of the falls, but it’s not very photogenic. The viewpoint further downstream is better for photographs, but you’re further away from the 90′ falls. The falls still loom impressively, but it’s difficult to feel connected to the falls. And I did not try to get to the base of the falls, and it seems that is not recommended.

Directions:

  1. The road system in the area around Eugenia Falls is rather complicated.  And by that, I mean to say there are numerous different ways to arrive at the falls, even from the same starting location.
  2. The falls are found off of Grey County Road 13 between Grey County Road 4 (to the south) and Grey County Road 31 (to the north).
  3. If you’re headed south on Co. Rd. 13, the Eugenia Falls Conservation Area will be on your right.  Parking is available there.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: 0.1 miles RT
Height: ~90′

Where in the World is Eugenia 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?

McGowan Falls, Ontario

I sometimes enjoy what happens when waterfalls meet human ingenuity. It can be cool to see how the water has been harnessed to do powerful things. In the case of McGowan Falls, though, human ingenuity tends to detract from the already small falls. While the river is relatively wide, there is only a small portion that currently has a significant drop, and that is around 4-5′ in height. I would be curious to know what the falls look like without the dam directly above. The one benefit is that is very easy to visit.

Directions:

  1. Take Grey County Road 4 into Durham.
  2. If you are heading west, as I was, there will be a street, George Street E, off of Co. Rd. 4. Turn right onto George Street E.
  3. There will be a parking area on your right (again heading west). The falls might not even be obvious, but the dam will be.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 7′
Hike: no hike necessary

McGowan Falls in October 2010

Where in the World is McGowan Falls?

Jones Falls, Ontario

Jones Falls, to be honest, is pretty disappointing. It’s right outside of Owen Sound, so I guess I could be a really popular place, but the view is just not that great. There are a number of trees that effectively block the view of much of the falls. You can see part of the falls directly from the road, but getting a closer view is just difficult.

The left side of the river is probably your best bet for getting an “ok” view. A trail leads over the river to the right side, but it is almost impossible to get any good pictures. I don’t believe there is any way to get to the base of the falls, at least safely or legally. (Though later reading suggests that there may be an easy way to get to the base…I just didn’t see if when I was there.) Oh well, some waterfalls just need to be left alone…Otherwise, it’ll be just another waterfall with too many people swarming around it.

Directions:

  1. From Owen Sound, head west on ON-6/21. It’s not too far from Owen Sound.
  2. You’ll climb a few hilly stretches of the road, and if you look to your right, you’ll end up seeing the falls, at least partially.  You’ll know you’re in the right area since there is a pretty big pull-off with trash cans right near the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Hike: roadside

Jones Falls in October 2010

Where in the World is Jones Falls?

Moul Falls, British Columbia

Moul Falls in August 2010

I’m sure there are a number of more isolated waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park, but of the most widely known falls near Clearwater Valley Road, Moul Falls might take the most effort to get to. Compared to Helmcken, Dawson, or Spahats Creek Falls, you do actually have to hike to get to the falls. It’s an almost 4 mile round-trip hike.

I don’t remember it being a difficult hike (which I usually remember if I suffered!). The bear signs at the beginning of the hike did freak me out for a second, but there were a number of other people on the trail, that I would have been surprised to see any bears. I do remember that as you get very close to your destination, you will have to climb down some rickety-looking stairs to get to the base, but it’s well worth it for the final view.

When I showed up, it was very sunny, so the falls were very bright. The spray from the falls created a rainbow near the base, but when I tried to capture it in the photograph, the falls became extremely bright. I think there’s a mild hint of the rainbow in this picture. It was really an enjoyable hike, and it is nice to be able to get closer to this waterfall than the others in the park.

Directions:

  1. From Clearwater, head north on Clearwater Valley Road for 13 miles.
  2. On your left, you will see the parking area for Moul Falls.  The parking areas not huge, but there’s probably enough room except on the busiest of days.  From there, follow the trail to the falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 115′
Length of Hike: 3.6 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Moul Falls?

The Mushbowl, British Columbia

Well, the Mushbowl at least goes down as having one of the more interesting names for a waterfall. As with many of the other more popular waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park, it’s also really easy to view. It’s very obvious from certain viewpoints and even as your crossing over the bridge just feet from the falls. It’s just not anywhere near as large as Helmcken or Dawson Falls. So it probably doesn’t get paid as much attention.

It’s still a pretty waterfall, and it other places, it would probably rank higher. Its redeeming quality is that it is so easily accessible. It’s pretty impressive at high flows too, and even in late August it was still flowing intensely. Stop by and visit it just because you can without much effort.

Directions:

  1. From Clearwater, head north on Clearwater Valley Road for about 40 km/25 miles to the parking area for Dawson Falls. Along the way, you will have passed parking areas for Spahat’s Creek Falls and Moul Falls. Once you reach the bridge over the Mushbowl, pass over the bridge and park on your right. That’s where the most “parking” seems to be available. I found it easier to stop on the way back, as you’ll pass by it again after visiting Helmcken Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: roadside

The Mushbowl in August 2010

Where in the World is the Mushbowl?

Weaver’s Creek Falls, Ontario

Weaver’s Creek Falls in October 2010

Weaver’s Creek Falls might be the smallest of the falls in the Owen Sound area, but it might also just be one of the most peaceful and quiet in the area too…and that’s surprising, considering how close it is to a very busy park. It’s almost hidden and unassuming. There are no real signs indicating that there’s a waterfall just a few hundred feet away.

The only negative thing about the falls is that it is partially on private property, and while there is a trail clearly leading to the falls, a sign says no trespassing just before you get to the falls. Oh well, you can still get a pretty good view. And the view is especially scenic during fall, when the fall colors kick in. With those fall colors, the forest floor becomes vibrant!

Directions:

  1. From Owen Sound, head south on 2nd Ave East.
  2. Turn left into Harrison Park, and almost directly after that, turn right. (It might be the only way you can go).
  3. Head down that road to the swimming pool. When I was there, you couldn’t actually go all the way down the road, and it ended at a gate. This was the perfect place to park.
  4. To the right of the pool you’ll find a boardwalk that leads over Weaver’s Creek and heads upstream to the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 9′
Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Weaver’s Creek Falls?

Alexander Falls, British Columbia

Alexander Falls in August 2010

The trip to Alexander Falls could be described as interesting, to say the least. Alexander Falls is found very close to Whistler Olympic Park, where a portion of the Winter Olympics were held in 2010. Since the Olympics were coming, some new roads were built in the area, and some old ones were redirected. This is one way to create some confusion.

The old way used to lead one down a forest service road that was unpaved, but still could be driven on. The confusing part was when that road forked unexpectedly. I think part of the road was blocked off, and the only option was to go on a road that was very newly paved. This can be very odd at first, and I wondered if this was some private road. Considering it was the only option, though, I continued on the paved road. Luckily, I discovered that the falls were a very short distance from this intersection.

It also revealed there is a MUCH easier way to see the falls now. The Callaghan Valley Access Road (not forest service road) is a newly paved road that leads you directly to the falls, and on further to the Olympic park, which you can still visit. Once at the falls, you don’t even have to walk to the falls. Just get out of your car, and they’re essentially in front of you. When I visited in August 2010, I had the whole place to myself, not that there was a whole lot there. The waterfall is very scenic, and I was relieved to know that I wasn’t lost in the wilderness.

Directions:

  1. Callaghan Valley Access Road doesn’t really show up on all GPS/Google Maps yet. From the last stoplight in Whistler, head south on BC-99 for about 6.5 km.
  2. On your right, you’ll find the road that should indicate the Whistler Olympic Park. Turn right here. Head down the road for a few kilometers until you reach the Alexander Falls park, which will be on your left. If you’ve gone to far, you’ll have passed the bridge over the river and you will soon end up at the Olympic Park. It’s pretty easy to turn around there and backtrack, though.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 141′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Alexander Falls?

Nairn Falls, British Columbia

Nairn Falls in August 2010

The first thing I noticed as I started hiking to Nairn Falls was how amazingly beautiful the river next to the trail is. The Green River flows very quickly, and not surprisingly has this extremely cool turquoise color to it. As you continue along, you’ll climb up and down a relatively easy trail. There is some elevation change, but it’s not bad.

Once you get to the falls, begin to explore. I will admit it is one of the more unique waterfalls I’ve seen. The picture on the right is the initial drop, which is beautiful, though somewhat difficult to photograph due to fencing. Then the river takes a literal 90 degree turn, and after going a short distance, takes another 90 degree turn, as if returning to its original path. The river drops again at this point, though the safety fencing REALLY blocks any good view of the second drop. It is really a great waterfall to stop and visit. As a note, there are a number of waterfalls off of BC-99 (or within a few miles of BC-99), and they are all relatively easy to visit.

Directions:

  1. It is about 33 km north of Whistler or 2 miles south of Pembleton on BC-99.  If heading north, the parking will be on the right.  Signs indicate pretty clearly where the park is.
  2. After parking, start down the trail toward the falls.  It is about 1 mile one-way.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 117′ (though you can’t see much of the drop)
Length of Hike: 2.0 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Nairn Falls?