Hog's Back Falls (Prince of Wales Falls)

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

About Hog’s Back Falls (Prince of Wales Falls)

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2013-10-09
Date last visited: 2013-10-09

Waterfall Latitude: 45.37116
Waterfall Longitude: -75.69676

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Hogs Back Falls (or Hog’s Back Falls; also called Prince of Wales Falls) was one of two waterfalls we visited within the municipality of Ottawa. This waterfall was pretty much an urban waterfall as it seemed like there was a dam as well as a lock that held up the Rideau River into a small lake flanked by relatively peaceful urban parks. The dam allowed for a road bridge to traverse the river as well as a walkway that allowed us to see the falls from various angles including the “island” between the river and the Rideau Canal (which the lock was for). That dam also seemed to make this waterfall able to be turned on or off at will.

The manipulations pertaining to the falls definitely took away from the natural beauty of the area and even made us question whether the falls were legitimate or not. Even the broken asphalt within the mini-gorge flanking the Rideau River further casted doubt about it in our minds (i.e. were the falls there from the beginning?). Plus, the river had that familiar smell that urban waterways tended to have suggesting there had to be some degree of sewage and/or pollution in it so we were careful trying not to inhale too much of the mist produced by the power of the falls.

Yet having said all that, it seemed like the students, locals, and tourists alike didn’t seem to mind a whole lot as they simply enjoyed the sights and the calming effects that waterfalls tended to bring. We did the same, and it kind of eased us into our brief stay in Canada’s capital city.

Visiting the waterfall was pretty easy (though we did have some trouble when we showed up at the wrong side of the river before finally figured out our mistake and went to the right car park; see directions below). From the correct car park, there was a short path that took us towards some bathrooms and what looked like a snack bar area (though it was closed during our visit). From there, we took one of several paved walking paths flanked by lawns and trees towards the overlooks from the east side of the Rideau River.

Railings ensured that only the determined, foolhardy souls would fall into the small but turbulent gorge. So we pretty much viewed the falls from choice spots all along the railings here. Then, we walked towards the footbridge going across the river so we could look downstream over the brink of the falls. That was where the lighting was behind us and we could see a bold bright rainbow in the rising mist while some of the high rises within Ottawa’s city limits could be seen further downstream (a rather interesting juxtaposition of urban jungle and waterfall). Once on the other side of the bridge, we were on an “island” where one side was the turbulent Rideau River with the Hogs Back Falls, while the other side was a calm lock that appeared to be there to allow boats to go upstream or downstream on the Rideau Canal.

Overall, our visit here took a very leisurely 45 minutes, and it very easily could’ve taken far less time if we didn’t linger for as long as we did.


According to our Waterfalls of Ontario book, the most straightforward way to reach Hogs Back Falls from downtown Ottawa would be to catch the Hwy 417 and exit at Riverside Dr, then head south on Riverside Dr for about 6km to Hog’s Back Rd. Turn right onto Hog’s Back Rd, then drive for about 300m then turn right into the Hog’s Back Park turnoff.

When we did this drive, we wound up taking surface streets from downtown Ottawa. So we made our way towards Colonel By Dr. Then, we turned right to go south on Colonel By Dr and followed it all the way to Hog’s Back Dr. Turn left onto Hog’s Back Dr, then turn left again to get into Hog’s Back Park.

We actually made the mistake of turning right at Hog’s Back Park, and then turned right into a small car park next to the lock (by the Rideau Canal on the west side of the river). Even though there were picnic tables and some historical signs as well as a bike and foot path along the canal, it was still a bit of a walk to go under the road, then walk towards a section of the road that would be safe to cross to get into the Hog’s Back Park. We ended up driving out of the car park and making our way to Hog’s Back Park via a couple of U-turns (it wasn’t easy to make a left out of that small picnic area turnoff).

Finally, for some context, Ottawa was 199km (2 hours drive) west of Montreal and 444km (about 4.5 hours drive) southwest of Quebec City.

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Left to right sweep following the flow seen from the lookout closest to the car park

Right to left sweep from the island between the falls and the canal

Looking downstream from the top of the falls showing a rainbow before panning to the right at the bridge

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Tagged with: ottawa, waterfall, ontario, canada, prince of wales, urban waterfall, regulated, rideau canal, lock

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