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?

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?