If you’re visiting Manitoulin Island, make sure a stop to the Village of Kagawong is on your route. Swim or hike at Bridal Veil Falls, walk the waterfront and indulge yourself with luxury chocolates – Kagawong has something for everyone. This walking tour will take one to two hours.
Bridal Veil Falls
Start your visit at Bridal Veil Falls, located just outside the village along Highway 540. A popular tourist destination, these stunning falls can be accessed easily from the main road. A small parking lot offers entry to the waterfall and trail system. Public washrooms are available and several picnic tables are scattered around if you choose to have lunch. During the summer months, arrive early or find parking along the side of the road as it can become quite busy.
The waterfall itself is 35 feet in height, fed from interior Lake Kagawong. A steel staircase and easy walking trail lead you down to the base of the falls. Plan to swim in the natural pool formed at the bottom of the falls, but come prepared with water shoes – the rocks can be sharp and a bit slippery. Don’t feel like getting wet? Photography enthusiasts will want to take advantage of several observation platforms at varying levels to capture the perfect shot. Walk behind the waterfall for a somewhat drier perspective.
From the pool, follow the Kagawong River towards its outlet at Mudge Bay on the North Channel of Lake Huron. Well-marked hiking trails parallel the river on both sides, leading you towards Kagawong. Make sure your camera has a full charge to capture the many smaller waterfalls that flow down the hillsides and seasonal wildflowers that line the sides of the river. Be cautious and pay close attention along the trail as poison ivy is a natural hazard in the area.
Next Stop: Kagawong
Both the trail and the river end at the Village of Kagawong, a community rich in history and full of things to discover. Visiting this small town is like taking a step back in time. In Ojibwe the name means “where the mists rise from the falling waters.” Kagawong declares itself Ontario’s Prettiest Village, and with good reason.
Begin walking the waterfront at the Old Mill Heritage Centre. The Old Mill used to be a pulp mill, providing paper for Sears Roebuck catalogues in Michigan. Today it houses an art gallery and museum. There is no charge for entry but donations are welcome. With a variety of exhibits to choose from, everyone in the family will find something of interest. The 2016 season features Life in Billings – showcasing the Gordon family, who have spent generations in the Kagawong area. A popular shipwreck exhibit features the doomed Franklin Expedition, alongside a number of displays proudly sharing the area’s military history.
Continue along the waterfront to Kagawong Marina, located on the docks, which offers a scenic lookout of Mudge Bay. The mouth of the Bay also has a small sandy beach which is perfect for a refreshing dip and some fun in the sun!
A must-see waterfront stop is the historic Evangelist’s Anglican Church, also known as the Sailor’s Church. This church was built nearly 120 years ago and remains in incredible form. The church’s nautical stained glass and decor is capped off by the pulpit, which is actually the bow of a boat. If there are no services taking place, the church is a quiet place to stop for reflection and meditation.
After walking the waterfront, begin the hike back up the hill to the falls. Along the way, those with a sweet tooth will want to visit Manitoulin Chocolate Works, which offers hand crafted artisan chocolates sourced from Barry Callebaut Belgian Chocolate. This chocolate is known not only for their incredible texture and flavour, but for their sustainable business practices. They work directly with cocoa farmers to ensure a fair, sustainable industry.
Once you’ve got your chocolate buzz going, step outside to the giant game board outside where visitors can play chess or tic-tac-toe. Kids and adults alike will also love exploring the cedar tree maze nearby. Charming shops, an old-fashioned candy store, and even an art studio can also be found among the streets of Kagawong. Mid-week visitors can fill up on goods at the timeless Farmers Market.
Spend the Night
If you’re spending the night in the area, Hide Away Lodge is a family-friendly and accessible option. Built in the 1950’s, the family-run lodge and cottages face east, offering views of the North Chanel and the LaCloche Mountains. Relax in the reading room, or try your hand at horseshoes or bocce ball at no extra charge. For a more active adventure, rent a canoe or kayak and head out on the water. These house-keeping cottages come equipped with full kitchens, so guests will prepare their own meals.
If you’re continuing your road trip, consider heading west to the end of the island to the Meldrum Bay Inn & Restaurant. Shirin and Bob Grover deliver a delicious house-made meal complimented by waterfront views. Spend the afternoon on the patio, or spend the night in one of seven unique rooms available at the inn. Expect an hour’s drive from Kagawong.
Regardless of the amount of time you have to spend and the types of activities you like to enjoy, the Village of Kagawong and Bridal Veil Falls will be a popular stop for just about everyone. Enjoy exploring this beautiful area!