Spring always brings great expectations after a long winter. Warmer temperatures, spring showers and melted snow create the perfect conditions for the revival of mother nature, and also for showing off the waterfalls.
Did you know that in Ottawa there are four impressive and beautiful waterfalls right in the middle of the city? Yes, you don’t necessarily need to drive to Gatineau park to admire a waterfall. Ottawa’s waterfalls are massive!
I didn’t know before moving to Ottawa that going hiking in search of waterfalls was something that people like to do during Spring time. It makes sense, as due to the runoff of melting snow, the waterfalls look at their best with a great flow of water.
Don’t miss the opportunity to go see Ottawa’s waterfalls. A bonus: they look stunning at the sunset hour!
1. Rideau Falls
These are the most well known falls in the city. The 11 meter high falls are at the confluence of the Rideau river with the Ottawa river.
They were called Rideau by the French explorers because of their curtain-like look. Rideau means curtain in French.
They are massive and it’s truly a spectacle to see them frozen in the winter. In the summer the falls are lit at night, making them look very pretty.
There’s a footpath over the top of the falls from where you can get a closer look at the power of the water when falling. It’s amazing in the spring due to greater amounts of water!
If you take a boat tour of the Ottawa river, the boat will approach the falls to get a panoramic look of them from the river.
To get there, go to 50 Sussex Street. You can park in the parking lot next to the Embassy of France.
2. Chaudière Falls
These falls are on the Ottawa river, very close to downtown, and just a 1.5 kms from Parliament Hill. They are 60 meters wide and have a characteristic ring dam, providing clean power to the city.
For over a century the place was heavily industrialized, fenced and kept away from the public eye. Until 2018 that is when two parks were built, as well as footbridges, lookouts, and rest areas.
The Chaudière falls are considered a sacred place for the Algonquin first nations. They were a place for meeting, trading and sacred offerings.
I witnessed a ritual ceremony when I went to see the falls. There was a group of six people who made a fire, and started smoking big cigarettes while they chanted.
The French explorers called the falls “chaudière” which means “kettle”, because of the spray and mist of the churning waters.
In the Spring the view of the Chaudière falls is magnificent! And during the sunset hour it’s simply spectacular!
To get there, go to the Canadian Museum of War. You can park in front of the museum on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. Then walk behind the museum following Booth Street.
You will see an Ottawa river pathway sign to the left. Follow the path until you get to a footbridge to the right. Then just explore the area and follow the sound of the water to get to the falls.
3. Hog’s Back Falls
These are a series of artificial waterfalls but no less interesting or beautiful. They were made during the time when the Rideau canal was under construction.
They are located north of Mooney’s Bay in the spot where the Rideau canal splits from the Rideau River.
When the Rideau canal was being built, it was necessary to divert water from the Rideau river to the canal as part of the navigation system.
That’s why a dam was built. It became a real challenge, requiring a lot of work and many repairs and remodelling through the years and decades.
In the late 1970’s the last major reconstruction was made and what we see today is the result.
In the 1950’s the Hogs Back Park was built. It has picnic tables, washrooms, parking, and scenic trails. You can walk your dog on leash.
There’s a footpath that goes all along the falls including the footbridge over the top of the falls, so that you can have views of them from all the angles!
To get there you can take Riverside Drive and then turn on Hogs Back Road to get to the parking lot. The other route is through Colonel By Drive, and then Hogs Back Road.
4. Princess Louise Falls
These are truly hidden falls in the city. Not many people know about these falls that are in the middle of the Orleans neighborhood in the East end.
They are beautiful and once you get there you get the feeling of being in the tropics!
Getting to the falls can be tricky. You can park in Brookbridge Crescent to access the trail on top of the falls. But if you don’t want to hike, you can get to them from Saint Joseph Boulevard.
The problem is that there’s no parking nearby. The solution I found is to park in some commercial areas on St Joseph Blvd (in the direction to Trim Road) that are approximately 500 meters away. Then I walk to the falls.
I hope you enjoy visiting these falls as much as I did. It’s always an exciting adventure to look for Ottawa’s natural gems! Take care.