Being Respectful

If you are reading this page, you probably already get it. Sadly, those that don't read this page will probably never get it.

When people ignore the rules or act like jerks, it ruins things for the rest of us. Waterfalls are no different: many have been closed to public access due to bad behaviour.

Fortunately all it really takes is for us to be good people.

Albion Falls, the poster child of a waterfall being closed due to bad visitor behaviour. © LA Mabo, with permission.
Healey Falls was closed due to excessive partying, camping and litter. It's open again, for now.

'Responsible exploration' is critical to keeping our waterfalls open. Respecting the rules and respecting other people are easy ways to keep our hobby legitimate and enjoyable.

You've probably read about keeping yourself safe. Getting into trouble puts others at risk and gives authorities a reason to limit access to others.

You've probably also read about staying out of private and prohibited areas. Aside from being illegal and disrespectful, it results in more closures elsewhere.

A few other reminders:

  1. Stay on the Trail: A single trail to a waterfall, even a busy one, limits the impact on the surrounding landscape. When people create their own route, it degrades the area, making it less appealing as a natural spot.

    A few remote waterfalls in Ontario have no trail. Backwoods navigation can usually be justified because the traffic is very, very low.

  2. Pack out Your Waste: Nobody likes to see litter. It ruins the experience of being in the outdoors. Just bring your stuff back... This is easy!
We can no longer explore the gorge at Smokey Hollow. Photo © Colleen Mabalay.
A red dot means 'No Trespassing'.

  1. Share the Trail... and the Falls. I've seen people bring lawn chairs and set up in the creek, right in front of the falls. This is self-centered, as it prevents others from enjoying the view.

  2. Make room for other visitors. I've seen large families have a picnic at the only viewing platform for a waterfall. Don't be a jerk.

This next reminder sounds ironic, coming from someone that has been promoting waterfalls big and small for years.

  1. Don't over-promote lesser-known waterfalls on social media. As described in the Values and Ethics page, it is my position that publicly accessible waterfalls are supposed to be accessible to the public.

    But many waterfalls are not set up for dozens of visitors at a given time. There may not even be a place to park.

    The good news is that most people only want to see "the best ones". For the most part, these waterfalls already have sufficient parking and decent trails.
Fenelon Falls handles a lot of visitors. The community can use our tourism dollars.

Waterfalls of Ontario Project

This project has been online since 1999, in print since 2003, and on social since 2011. (See archives: 2003, 2012, 2018). It was the first to inventory and map Ontario's waterfalls for recreational purposes. With your continued help, it grows. Learn more...
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This page last updated on April 20, 2024. Earlier versions can be examined on, dating back to 2003.