Surprised By The Waterfalls Around Bracebridge Ontario
We headed north of Toronto for a long weekend and were surprised when we found so many great waterfalls around Bracebridge. Each waterfall find sent us in search of a new one.
For a break from the city we headed out of Toronto for a week. We started with a long weekend in Gravenhurst and then continued north for some outdoor fun in Huntsville.
We booked a hotel in Gravenhurst as our base and explored from there. When we found Muskoka Falls as we wandered in the area, we checked to see if there were more waterfalls close by. And planned stops to see Bracebridge Falls and Wilson’s Falls. We stopped at High Falls when we travelled north to Huntsville and should have done more research to see all that site had to offer.
Stay By Lake Muskoka In Gravenhurst
We visited the Lake Rosseau and Muskoka Lakes area often. Our route from Toronto took us through Gravenhurst and past the Residence Inn Gravenhurst by Muskoka Wharf on Lake Muskoka. For this visit we decided to try out this hotel closer to town.
We booked a lake view room with a balcony. Although most of the view was over the parking lot! The hotel suites were roomy and had full kitchens. A free hot and cold breakfast buffet with lots of variety started our days well. The residence style hotel worked out well when the weather turned rainy for a day.
Beside the hotel we found the Muskoka Steamships And Discovery Centre. Replicas of old steamships were outside. Inside the museum exhibits documented the rich history of steamships, wooden boats and the Muskoka Lakes area. A large boathouse housed a collection of classic wooden boats. We really wanted to book a cruise on one of the operating steamships for a scenic trip on Lake Muskoka. But the weather did not co-operate on this visit.
As disappointed as we were with the view from our hotel room, the location gave us what we wanted. We found many paths along the wharf to wander. When we reached the Muskoka Wharf it was fun to watch people doing tricks on the flyboards. David remembered his first attempt with flyboards when we visited Nassau in the Bahamas.
There were several areas to eat along the Muskoka Wharf. The Dock of the Bay Steak and Seafood Grill was the perfect spot for our anniversary dinner with a view.
We chose Gravenhurst as a base to explore the area. And would soon discover the waterfalls around Bracebridge when we headed a bit further north.
Hike The Peninsula Recreational Trail
When we wandered on the paths by our hotel, we saw the route for the Peninsula Recreational Trail. The entrance to the path was right by our hotel.
When we got on the path we had a choice of heading into the woods or up along the rocks. You know we followed the rock path! As we scrambled along the rocks we found our first viewpoint with a covered shelter. We paused for a look out towards Lake Muskoka.
The path continued along the rocks until we found the archway labelled “Path of Memories”. This took us to the Children’s Memorial where we paused and read the plaques as we enjoyed the view.
From this point we got on the path through the woods. Several stops gave us views of water and the small lighthouse. The Peninsula Recreational Trail was a short 1 km (half mile) loop. Well worth a hike before the rain settled in on our visit.
Find Muskoka Falls By The Dam When Chasing Waterfalls Around Bracebridge
One morning we headed out and found the Community Market for some fresh produce. We were at the end of strawberry season and we stopped to fill up whenever we could with freshly-picked produce. We found the market in the parking lot of the local Drive-In theatre.
From there we meandered our way around the winding roads. When we saw the sign for Muskoka Falls, we navigated towards the waterway. We always chased waterfalls on our travels.
No waterfalls were visible but when we saw the dam, we parked and got out to explore. We found no viewpoint and no path along the waterway. But that did not stop our exploration.
Trudging through the woods on either side of the dam, we ultimately found some spots with a view. The river tumbled from the 3 gates of the dam down a steep narrow chute cut into the rocks of the Canadian Shield. The power plant was at the bottom of the gorge.
We really wanted to get a view of the Muskoka Falls from below but we found no path or road that went along the waterway. Highway 11 ran over the waterway but that was not a safe spot to stop for a view. We were glad we got a glimpse of Muskoka Falls. It just whet our appetite to discover more waterfalls around Bracebridge.
Visit Downtown Bracebridge For The Bracebridge Falls
On our travels around the Muskoka Lakes area we often drove through the charming small town of Bracebridge. We travelled over the arched bridge and never stopped to check out the Bracebridge Falls. On this trip we learned this was not a sight to pass by!
We drove into town planning to park in the lot on Wharf Street below the historic Bracebridge Power Plant. But we missed the turn and went over the Silver Bridge to the other side of the falls. Parking at the Kelvin Grove Park on the other side was another perfect option to see Bracebridge Falls.
From the park we walked along the water. We saw the Bracebridge Falls as they cascaded down beside the dam under the Silver Bridge. Walking up the stairs we crossed over the falls and got a closer view of the Bracebridge Power Plant and the falls from the top.
From the walkway we saw smaller waterfalls upriver. Wandering along the path we walked for a closer view.
After we got these great views of Bracebridge Falls we walked back to the Kelvin Grove Park. We had more waterfalls around Bracebridge to explore.
Hike To Enjoy Wilson’s Falls
From downtown Bracebridge we headed up along the north branch of the Muskoka River. As we came close to the end of the narrow road, we passed two different small parking lots. We figured there might be views of Wilson’s Falls but we kept going to the larger parking lot by the trail. If we just wanted some stunning views of Wilson’s Falls, the viewpoints were as far as we really need to go!
We parked at the trailhead and headed off into the woods. The trails were partially groomed but rough enough not to be accessible paths.
As we walked along, there was no view to the water. We continued along until we came to the dam. On one side we saw calm still waters. On the other the waters tumbled over the low dam.
Once we crossed the dam we checked the trail map to see which direction to walk to see Wilson’s Falls. There was no clear path but we had kept the water close by and hiked over rough ground.
Several times we clambered over steep rocks to get to the water. We found fast flowing waters but no real view of the waterfalls. Off in the distance we saw the Wilson’s Falls Power Generation Station. But we were not really prepared to scramble out on the rocks in the flowing water for the hope of a better view.
With no real close up view of Wilson’s Falls we slowly picked our walk back through the woods, over the dam and back along the trail. On our way back out we stopped at the parking lot by the Wilson’s Falls Power Generation Station. From here we got a perfect view of Wilson’s Falls in front of us and the Muskoka River heading back towards the Gravenhurst Falls.
When we continued back along the road we found the other viewing point but no real parking. A bench sat on a hill with a perfect view of Wilson’s Falls.
The full view of Wilson’s Falls was stunning. Hiking along the trail gave us different views of the rushing water but not the actual waterfall. Our stop at Wilson’s Falls was another of the great waterfalls around Bracebridge that we were glad we found.
Pull Off The Highway And Discover High Falls
When we left Gravenhurst and headed north on Highway 11 for more outdoor fun in Huntsville we had one more waterfall stop planned before we left the Bracebridge area. High Falls has been referred to as the “Niagara of the North”. But we have also visited Kakabeka Falls outside Thunder Bay which also was referred to as “Niagara of the North”. From the viewpoint we got, we were not sure High Falls would beat Kakabeka Falls.
From the highway it was not clear which exit took us to High Falls. We started on the north side at the waterway and headed down Power Point Road. This took us to a small parking lot at the power station above the falls. The walkway over the falls was closed when we visited. So we got just a glimpse of the water below the falls.
We backtracked south on Highway 11 and followed the picnic signs to the roadside park on Cedar Lane. The road took us close to the water and we found a spot to park. When we visited we found the rocks looking over the cascading falls but a fence kept us off the rocks. There were steep paths though the forest to get to the rocks at the bottom of High Falls. But we were not prepared for that climb on our travel day.
From the top, across the water we saw a beach area with kayaks and paddle boats. We followed the road and came to the private gate for the High Falls Resort. But there was no way to get in for a view of the falls from below without a reservation.
As we headed back towards Highway 11, we saw the sign for the Trans Canada Trail and found some parking available at the side of the road. By this time we needed to get back on the road to Huntsville. But with further research we learned that the hiking trail would take us to Little High Falls and Potts Falls. We left that trek for another day.
Even without a great view of High Falls, we were glad we added this to our list of waterfalls around Bracebridge to visit.
A Great Time Discovering The Waterfalls Around Bracebridge Ontario
Gravenhurst was a perfect spot to use as a base to explore the area around the Muskoka Wharf and to head off to discover the waterfalls around Bracebridge. Each of the waterfalls we found was very different. Most of the waterfalls on the Muskoka River had dams to generate power. But we still got views of the thundering waters over the rocky lands of Muskoka.
We had great outdoor experiences in Gravenhurst before we headed for more outdoor fun in Huntsville. We even planned for more great waterfall sights at Stubbs Falls when we visited Arrowhead Provincial Park.
Have you discovered the waterfalls around Bracebridge? Are there more for a return visit?
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