You Can Explore Waterfalls in Ontario
by Mark Harris. Online since 1999. In print ©2003, ©2011.

Go Exploring!
Ontario has hundreds of waterfalls that can be visited in person. The majority are on public lands, meaning that you can visit whenever you want. So get outside and visit a few!

If you have a car, you can get out an visit many waterfalls for free. Some are located in the middle of a Conservation area and you may have to pay a modest admission fee. Whatever you do, be sure to stay safe and respectful by taking a few simple precautions.

No Two Waterfalls are Alike

You could spend the whole day at some waterfalls. You can enjoy a picnic, play with your kids, have a nice walk, or just relax! But you need to be aware that at other waterfalls in this list, you may well leave disappointed after a few minutes. Every waterfall is different. And for this reason, each waterfall on this web site has been given a rating out of 5: Rating System:

This is a subjective rating of how well you are likely to enjoy the site. There is of course some variability. Bigger waterfalls can be impressive, but they aren't always the best to visit because they may be behind a safety fence (for good reason). Smaller ones can be disappointing but can sometimes be the focus of a nice quiet oasis in the woods. These can even produce great photographs if you use your imagination. My personal favourites are those that you can safely explore and touch. The vertical "plunge" style waterfalls (like those along the Niagara Escarpment) do often give better photographs. But the longer, lower falls in the Canadian Shield country often cover more ground that you can explore.

A few things to remember:

Here is a TINY waterfall at the Babcock Mill. As tiny as it is, I think that you will agree that Gord Collins was able to make a great photograph.

You should also consider that waterfalls change in appearance in response to the seasons. In Ontario, stream flows are usually highest in March, April and May. They are usually lowest in August and September. This means that a waterfall may be overflowing with raging whitewater in spring, but dry up to a trickle by your summer holiday in late August. Both can be interesting times to visit the falls and their surroundings. If you keep an open mind, even a dry falls can be interesting. Many photographers find that the best pictures are made in early autumn. The red and orange and yellow leaves provide lots of colour, and also help to reduce the dramatic light range in summer.

Here is Healey Falls in spring. By mid summer, there may be just a single stream that you could hop across.

Getting Started
So where do you get started? Use the Waterfall Inventory to find sites that are in your region of Ontario. Better yet, use one of the the interactive Maps to find a waterfall near you. If you are just getting interested in waterfalling, stick with sites that are rated 3,4 or 5 out of 5. Most people will be disappointed by those rated 1 out of 5, or perhaps even some that are 2 out of 5.

If a waterfall looks interesting, you can click on the Directions link. This takes you to Google Maps. Simply enter your address in the top box and you get customized driving directions right to the falls.

Warning: Even Google's directions aren't always perfect. Also, remember that waterfalls don't have addresses… So be sure to study the google map before you go. Also, you really need to read the Disclaimer and Warnings page. This isn't to scare you, but it's just to help you stay safe.

So what is there to do at a waterfall? What's the fuss? These are great places for hiking, photography, exploring, and relaxing. They can be fun family outings or destinations for a quiet escape for one or two. Many waterfalls are situated in the heart of small picturesque towns, and you can sometimes combine waterfalling with window-shopping. Many more waterfalls are situated in quiet rural or unspoiled wilderness. They can serve as a destination on a nice quiet hike away from the bustle of the city. Some of the better waterfalls are set in interesting surroundings - be sure not to miss out on the other stuff nearby!

Finally, be sure to bring your camera. Waterfalls are one of the more commonly photographed features in the natural environment. Who doesn't take a picture when they find one? Dozens of people have shared their waterfall pictures for this web site. There are lots of tricks to get good photos. I will post some links on how to get the best waterfall shots soon.

Good luck! Be safe and let me know what you find.

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  Warning / Disclaimer
You must read the warning / disclaimer page before relying on this web page.

  Mark Harris hereby notifies you that he makes no guarantee that it is safe to visit this waterfall.
  Mark Harris hereby notifies you that this web site does not give you permission to visit this waterfall or to trespass.

  The northern and eastern portions of the province (as well as the Bruce Peninsula) are "bear territory". Be prepared!

  Mark Harris hereby notifies you that he makes no guarantee that the directions provided on this web site are correct, safe and/or legal.

You are responsible for yourself!

© Copyright Mark Harris May, 2014. London, Ontario. With lots of help from visitors like you!