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11 Waterfalls around Ottawa to visit on a stunning summer day trip

When the road trip goal is beautiful views, the capital region has them in spades, both in the city and surrounded by nature. So on the next sunny day, why not hit the road toward some stunning cascades around Ottawa?   

Whether you’re looking for an easy hike, a picnic location or a quick stop, there are tons of waterfalls to admire this summer. So don’t listen to TLC; here are eleven glistening waterfalls to chase near Ottawa this summer.   

Chaudiere Falls

chaudiere falls
Megan Johnson | CAA North & East Ontario

Where: Ottawa, ON 

These urban waterfalls are a historic spot, a sacred meeting place for Indigenous peoples, and a central location of Bytown’s lumber boom. You can follow the Ottawa River Pathway — or Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway during NCC Bikedays — to Chaudiere Island, passing stone ruins to the waterfall viewing area. Chaudière translates from the word ‘kettle’ due to the original cauldron-like shape of the falls and spray that would rise from the moving water.   

MacLaren Falls

Where: Wakefield, QC 

The Wakefield Mill Hotel and Spa was built in the 1830s as a flour mill powered by the neighbouring waterfalls on the La Pêche River. Look down onto the waterfall from the bridge on Cimetière-Maclaren Street or from the patio and spa areas of the hotel. If you dine at the hotel’s restaurant La Muse, the waterfall will act as a breathtaking backdrop for your meal. There are also hiking trails nearby in Gatineau Park that you can enjoy. 

Chutes Coulonge

Where: Mansfield-et-Pontefract, QC 

Chutes Coulonge Park offers a mix of adventure and history where you can experience the beauty of gorge waterfalls, and it’s less than two hours from Ottawa. There is a historical walk along the river with multiple views of the falls. If you want more thrills and epic aerial views, you can navigate treetop obstacle courses, zipline through the river gorge and climb against the canyon’s rock face. Admission rates differ depending on the activity. 

Grand Falls

Where: Almonte, ON 

You’ll discover a cascade series next to an old mill in the heart of Almonte’s quaint town. Flowing over rocks, you can see rapids form from the falls on the other side of a nearby bridge, and there is a river walk trail you can enjoy on the other side of them. Grab a table at Joe’s Italian Kitchen restaurant to dine on an outdoor patio with a waterfall view. 

Chutes de Plaisance

chutes plaisance
Megan Johnson | CAA North & East Ontario

Where: Plaisance, QC 

Just about an hour from Ottawa, a stunning cascade is a mighty 63 metres tall, making it even taller than Niagara Falls. It is arguably the most impressive waterfall scene in the Ottawa region. A one-kilometre flat trail will guide you to multiple lookout points where you can be close enough to feel the mist from the waterfall. A historic pavilion showcases artifacts and anecdotes from the area along with multiple outdoor rest areas, including some picnic tables. 

Princess Louise Falls

Panoramic view of waterfall over rocks in summer. Princess Louise Falls in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Wirestock | iStock

Where: Ottawa, ON  

This magical cascade is mere steps off a main road in Orleans. A short network of trails leads behind the falls if you’d like to stroll before admiring the view. It is part of an old river system buried underground, and nowadays, you’ll see the water rushing over a rocky escarpment surrounded by greenery. If you want to take an Insta-worthy photo, you should visit at off times, such as weekdays, for a more solitary experience. 

Carbide Willson Ruins

Gatineau Park waterfall- Carbide Willson ruins
John Fader | iStock

Where: Chelsea, QC 

Venture into Gatineau Park to uncover an in-and-out trail (trail 36) that leads to a rushing cascade beside stone ruins. Park at lot P11 in the summer and walk or bike toward the historical ruins, the last remains of an industrial plant constructed by a little-known inventor over a century ago. The falls run next to the ruins, pouring over rocks into a small river. 

Luskville Falls

Where: Luskville, QC 

The Luskville Falls Trail is a popular 4.2-kilometre loop in Gatineau Park with steep sections leading over an escarpment. A waterfall flows over this escarpment into a small forest stream. There is more rushing water to admire in May due to recently melted snow. If you enjoy various views, this hiking trail also features two lookout points over the Ottawa Valley and rich clay plains. Picnic areas and outhouses are located at the free parking lot. 

Rideau Falls

Rideau Falls

Where: Ottawa, ON 

Twin waterfalls mark where the Rideau River pours into the Ottawa River. Enjoy the view from the nearby park of the same name, where you can find expansive green space and some monuments. The curtain-like falls can also be seen from the seasonal patio Tavern on the Falls. You can grab a drink and a light snack while watching the sun hit the water.   

Dunlop Falls

Where: Chelsea, QC 

You can walk along a short hiking trail from the Dunlop Picnic Area in Gatineau Park and find these waterfalls in the forest. Reaching a small bridge from which you can spot the falls rushing over rocks in Fortune Creek will take only a few minutes. This picnic area is just a three-minute drive to lot P11, where you can chase another waterfall at Carbide Willson Ruins.   

Hog’s Back Falls

Megan Johnson | CAA North & East Ontario

Where: Ottawa, ON 

You may not expect to find waterfalls on such a scale in the middle of the city, but here they are. Visit Hog’s Back Park to enjoy the powerful falls rushing over large rock faces along the Rideau River. You can admire the view from both sides of the falls and a dam bridge overhead. It’s a great spot to picnic and enjoy on the park lawn, on large rocks by the water or nearby tables. There are seasonal public washrooms. 

Before you hit the road, bring your CAA Membership

From just $30 a year, CAA Members save wherever they go. You can save on everything from dining out and fuel while on a road trip to discounts on your car, travel insurance, and other benefits. You can view the list of 126,000 partner locations worldwide and compare membership plans online. 

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