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?

High Falls, Georgia

I’ve looked for waterfalls outside of northern Georgia, where there are many, and didn’t seem to have much luck. I found a few outside of Atlanta, though they didn’t seem particularly big. I then logged onto AllTrails (which you should download), and noticed there was a state park called High Falls State Park. I found out there was a waterfall there, and it looked pretty interesting. (It’s other name, Towaliga Falls, sounds much cooler.)

It wasn’t a difficult drive from Atlanta, only about 50 miles or so, and directly off of I-75. Once driving to the state park area, it was pretty easy to find the falls and it was an extremely easy hike. I was surprised at how wide this waterfall was. The sign says it drops 100′, but that is over a relatively long distance. The main falls are probably 50′ or so, and there is a portion that is difficult to see. There wasn’t anybody else there, and it was pretty early in the morning, so it was extremely peaceful. If you’re looking for an excursion from the Atlanta area, this would definitely be a great option!

Directions:

  1. From I-75, take exit 198. If you are coming from Atlanta, you will exit and then turn left onto High Falls Road.
  2. Continue about 1 mile or so the park entrance. The first park entrance is where you can pay the $5 entrance fee early in the day. If you cross the bridge, though, you’ll come to the day use area on your left.
  3. Park there and then cross the road to the trail. It is directly adjacent to the river, and you just walk downstream for a few hundred feet to some pretty good viewpoints. The second one is the better vantage point.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate, stairs and some dirt trail)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: 0.2 mi round-trip

High Falls in May 2014

Where in the World is High 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?

Illgen Falls, Minnesota

Illgen Falls is the upstream relative of High Falls on the Baptism River. While it is not as interesting as High Falls, it is much easier to visit, and that’s a good reason to stop and visit the falls.

High Falls requires a hike that is of moderately easy difficulty. It’s not really long, but it still does take some time to get to the falls. When you are there, though, you can get an absolutely great view from the base of the falls. Illgen Falls, on the other hand, requires very little hiking. It’s about 0.15 miles from the road right down a trail. When you get there, though, you will be at the crest of the falls, not the base.  This viewpoint of the falls isn’t the greatest, and in pictures, it leads to the perception that the falls aren’t really that large…when in fact Illgen Falls is taller than it appears.  There might be a way to get down the base, but I really didn’t care enough to hunt that option down. Sometimes you just have to enjoy what’s in front of you!

Directions:

  1. From MN-61 heading north or south, you will turn onto MN-1. If you’re heading north, it will be a left turn.
  2. Head 1.6 miles on MN-1 to the gravel pulloff that will be on your left. I wasn’t sure if I was at the pulloff, so I ended up passing it, and then turning around. There is a sign indicating Illgen Falls, but I’m not sure that it’s very obvious at first. I think it was rather small.
  3. From the parking area, head down toward the river. You’ll be able to tell which direction it is because you can definitely hear it!
  4. Along the way, you will pass a house, but stay on the designated trail to the base of the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 35′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

Illgen Falls in May 2010

Where in the World is Illgen Falls?

Hooker Falls, North Carolina

Of the three waterfalls you can most easily view in the Dupont State Forest in North Carolina, Hooker Falls is the easiest of those three to visit. High and Triple Falls both require hikes up a steeper hill, though they are still clearly marked. There are many other falls in the area, though the trails can become a little bit confusing.

Hooker Falls is also the smallest of the three falls, and many people may skip in favor of the other two more photogenic falls. I had a fun time, though, at Hooker Falls. The height of the waterfall is not that significant, but that apparently makes it a favorite of kayakers. When I visited in early March, there were two kayakers actually plunging over the falls. I was excited to use my newer camera to capture the image as they plunged over the falls. That’s the only waterfall that I’ve ever seen somebody kayak over, so it sticks with me.

Directions:

  1. You’re going to want to get on US-64 heading south of Brevard. (Head north on US-64 if you’re coming from South Carolina.)
  2. Turn right on Crab Creek Rd. and head 4.3 miles to Dupont Rd.
  3. Turn right on Dupont Road, which is also called Station Road in places.
  4. Go for a ways until you cross the Little River. During busy times of the year, you’ll realize that right near the bridge is the parking area for the falls. You can also park on the side of the road.
  5. The short 0.25 mile (one-way) trail to Hooker Falls is clearly marked, and is found directly opposite the start of the trail leading to Triple/High Falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 14′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Hooker Falls (9)

Hooker Falls in March 2009

Hooker Falls (20)

Where in the World is Hooker Falls?

High Falls of the Baptism River, Minnesota

High Falls of the Baptism River (3)

High Falls of the Baptism River (August 2015)

The High Falls of the Baptism River is a definite must see for North Shore waterfalls. It’s a truly powerful waterfall that is accessed by a beautiful hike. I hadn’t planned on visiting this waterfall until later, but since I was passing Tettegouche State Park, I decided to check out the falls. I had already walked some distance, and my feet were hurting after changing to a new pair of shoes.

At first, I was slightly confused about where to access the falls. I was using the book “Waterfalls of Minnesota’s North Shore”, and the book is rather useful, but I think that in the last year or so, some changes must have been made to the way to access the falls? I would check out the website for directions, but essentially you should enter the rest area for Tettegouche State Park and drive past the visitor’s center (and pay the fee if you haven’t). You’ll drive under the M-61 bridge and you should just keep heading down this newly-paved road to the end of the road, where you’ll see a sign for the trail center. This is where you start your short journey.

After visiting the beautiful falls, you can continue on to Two Step Falls from either side of High Falls. I would suggest following the path that is on the south side of the river. You can cross the Baptism River and go see the falls on the north side of the river, but the only way to get back to the parking lot after visiting those falls is to retrace your steps, which is why I would just go on the south side. I ended up not visiting Two Step Falls because it was getting late. (I did get a chance to visit Two Step Falls in August 2015.)

Directions:

  1. From M-61, enter the rest area for Tettegouche State Park. Head past the visitor’s center and drive down to the end of the road to the trail center. Consult the visitor’s center if you want better directions. It’s not that hard to access.
  2. Follow the signs to High Falls.

Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate, consistent up-and-down)
Height: 70′
Length of Hike: 1.4 miles round-trip

High Falls of the Baptism River (May 2010)

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

Shadow Cascade, New York

Shadow Cascade in May 2009

Right next door to Upper Falls in Letchworth Park is this likely overlooked but very beautiful waterfall, Shadow Cascade. Shadow Cascade flows into the Genesee River, and once the waterfall passes below the bridge, it actually combines with Upper Falls, making the two pieces relatively indistinguishable.

The cascade is not that tall, but it is definitely worth visiting. You are only a hundred or so yards from the cascade as your standing next to the base of Upper Falls. If you continue further along this trail, I believe you can reach the railroad track that passes above Upper Falls.

Directions:

  1. I can’t remember which entrance we entered from, but those of off NY-39 are the best choices.
  2. When you enter the park, there will be signs leading to different areas. Find the signs leading to Middle and Upper Falls. I believe you will be heading south as you head toward these falls.
  3. The parking area for the falls is very near the southern entrance to the park. You will know you are in the right place when you see a functioning inn.
  4. From there, you’ll want to find Upper Falls.
  5. To the right of Upper Falls, you’ll notice a trail leading uphill. That trail leads right past Shadow Cascade.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 14′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Shadow Cascade?

High Falls (Genesee River), New York

There are three waterfalls on the Genesee River that are found in downtown Rochester, New York (Lower, Middle, and High Falls), and High Falls is the most scenic of the three. There is a beauty that comes from seeing how humans have interacted with waterfalls, and it’s especially true here.

Once you find parking, High Falls is very easy to view, as there is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river. You can get many different views of the falls from the bridge. From the bridge, I think you can see remnants of other bridges down below in the river.

Directions:

  1. From I-490, you’re going to want to exit and get to State St.
  2. On State St., there will be a parking garage for High Falls. If you are driving south on State St., the parking garage will be on your left. I believe the parking was free when I was there, though there may be a cost at certain times.
  3. From the parking area, walk toward the river and historic district. As you are walking toward the river, you will pass a High Falls “Museum and Gift Shop”, which has some interesting history in it.
  4. The falls will be best viewed from the pedestrian bridge.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 96′
Length of Hike: 0.3 miles round-trip

High Falls in May 2009

Where in the World is High Falls?