When you’re going for a walk in the woods with the kids, a waterfall destination—powerful, beautiful, loud, fast—is usually a pretty good bet. Here are two local faves. Want more hikes, with and without waterfalls? Check out 7 family-friendly family hikes in and around Thunder Bay. [May 2020 update: Local municipal parks and conservation areas are open. Provincial parks are expected to open May 15 for day use only. Picnic areas, washrooms, playgrounds etc will not be available so plan accordingly. Have fun and remember your six-foot bubble!]
With Centennial Park on one side and Cascades Conservation Area on the other, Trowbridge Falls is a true northern beauty spot. There are tons of trails, which you’ll share with mountain bikers and dog walkers, and one good bet for families is the 3.5km loop trail. From the Kinsman Park parking lot, take the northern start of the trail (don’t start by going through the playground; that’s where you’ll end up). You’ll meander through the mixed boreal forest with mossy cedar stands and some big old white pines, the campground, and a super-curvy wooden bridge, then cross the lovely arched bridge and hike beside the Current River, with plenty of views as it descends like steps. At the end, you cross the river again and can play on the super-smooth rock riverbank familiar to generations of TBayers. The trail is mostly flat and mostly dirt and gravel, but there are a few muddy or rocky spots. And you’ll never know what you’ll see: we recently spotted a tiny plastic hippo perched by the river, a pine tree decorated with red Christmas ornaments and a dozen padlocks on the bridge, symbolizing everlasting love. Awww…
More info www.thunderbay.ca
The big Kakabeka Falls, known as the Niagara of the North, is definitely worth a visit, but did you know there was also a small hidden waterfall tucked into the woods at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park? You start at the Mountain Portage Trail, a 1.25 km loop that’s flat and stroller-friendly, with various viewing points over the falls, river and gorge. Then if you’re up for a more advanced hike, take the Little Falls Trail, which begins along Mountain Portage. It’s a 2.5km loop with a steep climb down into the river valley (no strollers!), through the boreal bush and beside the Kam River. There you’ll discover a small, pretty “bridal veil” waterfall that flows over the rocks like, well, a wedding veil. And of course, you can’t be in Kakabeka Falls without stopping for ice cream on the way home.
More info Kakabeka Falls hiking trails map