Growing up, I had seen hundreds of pictures of my parents and friends frolicking in Louisa Falls in Agnes Lake in Quetico Provincial Park. Unfortunately, all I had seen were pictures because it had been a place that had eluded my canoe and paddle.
I had been to the Boundary Waters and Quetico many times, but for some reason, Agnes Lake and Louisa Falls was never on the itinerary when it was time for me to portage, canoe, and fish in this wonderful pristine wilderness. There was actually one trip where we did attempt to canoe up to Agnes, but we were wind bound for several days in Kawnipi and could not move. Instead of looping back through Agnes, we had to turn around.
Quetico Provincial Park is full of large lakes, and with canoeing and kayaking the only mode of transportation, wind plays a powerful force in getting from A to B. It is one of the very frustrating parts of adventure traveling in Quetico, yet also, a very cool part. Have you ever traveled somewhere and failed at getting to your destination because of the wind? I doubt many travelers can say that.
Louisa Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall created from a little stream that drops from Louisa Lake into the southern part of the 22 mile Agnes Lake. In the middle of the falls, there is a little pool that forms, which is perfect for bathing and taking a shower in. The pool is large and deep enough for five to even up to ten people.
The pool is absolutely perfect because there are rocks to stand on near the falls, but the water is almost over your head in the middle. You can also position yourself under the falls and take a shower. On the other side of the pool is a row of rocks that protects waders from falling down the lower portion of the falls, so it is perfectly safe.
For those who want to experience this cool waterfall, it is not that far from Prairie Portage. There are many campsites on lower Agnes including one right at the base of the falls.
Last year, on a week long trip camping in Quetico with my Dad, I was almost guaranteed a shot at swimming in Louisa Falls. Our final destination was Kawnipi, but we planned to begin through Prairie Portage up Agnes. Unless a crazy north south wind was going to blow for a week straight, I would finally get a chance to see Louisa Falls.
The only problem was, the day we headed up Agnes and past Louisa Falls, it was kind of cool. It was one of those days that could not make up its mind. Partly sunny then partly cloudy, then rainy: The only characteristic of this day that you could hold your hat on was it was not a day you wanted to swim.
How unkind of Mother Nature to not accommodate me with the perfect day to swim when I finally made it to the most awesome bathing spot in North America. Undaunted, I charged into the pool and started swimming. I was not going to let a cold day spoil an opportunity I have been waiting for decades to enjoy.
For those who want to experience this amazing waterfall, it is not that far from Prairie Portage. There are many campsites on lower Agnes including one right at the base of the falls.
If this type of trip appeals to you, there are two places one can access the park from the United States that I recommend. If you go through Ely, Minnesota then go through Canadian Border Outfitters. Read about them here:
Boundary Waters and Quetico vacation begin with Canadian Border Outfitters
If you want to go through Grand Marais then try Voyageur Canoe Rentals. Read about them here:
Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is the key that unlocks Quetico and the Boundary Waters
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What a “hidden gem” that is! Even on a dreary day, it’s the perfect reward for your travels.
Erika recently posted..Photo essay: The boutique hotels of Puebla
Even though it was cold, it was still refreshing. Wish we could have had a place like this closer to home to show you.
Great photos. Love the waterfall. Seeing waterfalls always makes a place more beautiful 🙂
Jeremy Branham recently posted..A state capitol building love affair and my Occupy Denver experience
Yes, waterfalls rock!
Will you take me canoeing one day, Ted? And what I mean by that is will you let me sit in the canoe while you paddle and show me all this cool stuff? I find that I’m good at many things, but the ability not to flip a canoe is not one of them.
Leah Travels recently posted..Travel Through the Eyes of a First-Time Flyer
we call seats in leah’s canoe!! (with you paddling us around, duh).
the lazy travelers recently posted..packing is for pros (and i just went up a notch)
Sure, come on down!
I have flipped in a canoe before, but it has been years. Sure, come canoeing, and I will make sure you don’t get stuck in a tree like in Texas tubing.
It took me a while to know exactly where this is… but, I consider that part of the charm of the boundary waters. And well most quality waterfalls always seem to be a challenge to find and enjoy…
stay adventurous, Craig
Craig Zabransky recently posted..Tips on the Four Ways to Tour Amsterdam
Unless you are an avid canoeist, you would never have heard of this area, which is too bad because it is so amazing up there.
I’ve never heard of such a nice place. Have to admit, still trying to figure out where this is. But I’ll gladly hop in Leah’s canoe. 😉 Haha
Quetico is just over the border from the Boundary Waters in Minnesota. It is basically in the middle of nowhere. No towns at all to speak of. Just lakes, loons, moose, wolves, bears, and canoeists. Paradise.
I have never been on a canoe.. will you take me? loved the waterfall!
@mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Shopping in Rome and boarding my first cruise
Come on down Mrs. O. It is a great experience.
What a great day…nothing better than a fulfilling shower in a waterfall:)
D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf – San Francisco
It was definitely invigorating.
Aaah, swimming in the falls, how much this must have been! Great photos, Ted.
Pola recently posted..5 winery picks in Lake Michigan Shore Wine Country
Thanks Pola, just wish it was a little warmer. We have not had the issue around here lately.
i can’t believe you still swam despite it being cold 🙂 love the photos of you in the waterfall. i’m going to some falls in Cambodia & super excited about it. it’ll be crazy hot there though so i won’t have any issue splashing around in the water! 🙂
lola recently posted..Cambodia Countdown – week 4
I am excited to read about your Cambodia adventure Lola.
I’d love a little canoe ride through the area. Your pictures are beautiful, as always. Where exactly can we find this hidden gem?
Tawny- Captain and Clark recently posted..Travel Gear. Never drop your iphone again! [Video Review]
I was using that pool, in 1965. I think the fish were bigger then. Maybe that makes me old? It brings to mind that in 100 years, the “Bath Tub” will still look and be the same. Thanks for the memories!
I was drawn to this place after seeing pictures of my mom and dad swimming and bathing in this pool in the late 1970s. I am glad this post brought back good memories Mike.
I’m just back from a canoe trip so I have canoe wanderlust flowing in my veins again. This place sounds awesome – even if it was on the chilly side. One day I’ll make it to Quetico – even though I just heard of three more canoe routes in northern Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories that I now have to do.
Leigh recently posted..The Rugged Beauty Boat Tour out of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland
There are so many canoe routes, so little time . . . . .
First saw Louisa falls in 1961 on a canoe trip from Camp Mishawaka. Two things about about the campsite there and the bathtub.Bears in my experience seem to really like that campsite and one time after enjoying the bath tub several young ladies found small leeches on themselves. They still made up a song praising the falls. Good memories
Sorry that I initially missed this comment. I can hear the screams of the ladies when finding the leeches. Glad this post evoked pleasant memories.
Hi, I remember way, way back in the summer of 1981, I worked for a fisheries research unit out of Ontario and we flew into Agnes Lake to take water samples at the deepest part of the lake. We flew in on one of those yellow turbo-beavers owned by the province. I think we landed just off of Louisa Falls, what a heavenly place, a beautiful waterfall, clear water and a campsite on a sandy point just below the waterfall. Really a picture post card. I’ll never forget that.
I always love it when people find my posts and comment on a distant memory that reading this evoked. Thank you for sharing your memories. I hope to visit again soon. Perhaps this summer Canada will open up the border. Last year, I paddled the Boundary Waters and forlornly looked at the other side wishing I could paddle across and enjoy Canada.