Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park boasts five waterfalls and some of the most overlooked scenery in northern Ontario.
When it comes to provincial parks in northern Ontario, there are a lot of stunning parks that often get overlooked. Kap Kig Iwan Provincial park is one of those.
Through our many northern Ontario road trips, we’ve often followed the Trans Canada Highway along the Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay drive past popular parks such as Rainbow Falls, Pancake Bay, and Killarney. However, a recent northern Ontario road trip took us along the “Boreal Route.”
This 1,700 km route veers away from the Trans Canada Highway and connects eight lesser-known Ontario Provincial Parks that most Ontario parks camping enthusiast would be thrilled to visit.
The loop typically begins and ends in the city of Sudbury, Ontario, and the first park on most road-trippers list is the beautiful, waterfall-filled Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park.
Where Is Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park?
Kap Kig Iwan is a three-hour drive north from Sudbury along HWY 11 on what has been dubbed northern Ontario’s “Boreal Route.” The park sits a little over halfway between Sudbury and the city of Timmins, Ontario.
The park is about an hour from the outdoor adventure hub of Temagami, and many visitors include a stop in this scenic town as part of their journey along the Boreal Route.
Kap Kig Iwan sits on the Englehart River where a series of five cascading waterfalls and white water rapids bisect the scenery and draw Ontario waterfall hunters to one of the most surprising provincial parks in the north.
Tips For Visiting and Camping at Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park
For waterfall lovers, Kap Kig Iwan is a provincial park that should make your bucket list. There are five separate waterfalls spread across two hiking trails. Unlike parks further south and in Ontario’s “near north,” such as Grundy Lake, Algonquin, and Kilbear Provincial Park, Kap Kig Iwan is rarely packed. You might even find some weekends in the summer where you could stroll up and find an open site.
That being said, booking ahead of time is still a good idea to avoid disappointment. It’s never fun to arrive at a beautiful campground and be turned away due to a lack of campsites.
While Kap Kig Iwan has, so far, flown below the radar, I don’t imagine its status as an “undiscovered gem” will last many more years. The park is easy to access, quite accessible, and fantastic for families. I’ll talk about their family-friendly “caricature” hike later on.
The park is quite small as well. This means when the word does get out about what a great destination Kap Kig Iwan is, the park is going to fill up quickly.
It’s always helpful to have a little information that you can rely on before you head out. So before we get to the Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park Guide, here are a few tips and tricks to help you plan your visit. Before you head out, check out our tips for Ontario Parks camping so that these parks are here to enjoy for generations to come.
- Book early – Campsites at Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park rarely sell out, but they do on occasion. You can beat the crowd by booking up to 5-months ahead on the Ontario Provincial Park online booking system. You can access that here.
- If you can’t get a campsite at Kap Kig Iwan your next best option is Esker Lakes Provincial Park which is about an hour northwest. Alternatively, you may be able to find accommodation in the nearby town of Englehart. You can find some options here.
- Book Late – Many Ontario campsites book up early. But many also have last-minute cancellations. If you don’t mind last-minute planning, keep checking the Ontario Parks site to see if there are any late openings. Sometimes this is the best way to get a prime site.
- Plan for the weather – Watch the weather forecasts before your Kap Kig Iwan camping adventure. And always prepare for the worst. You never know what could happen without warning. Pack camping tarps like this for covering your gear; make sure you use mosquito repellent and sunscreen for all that time on the trails.
- Don’t move firewood – Those used to camping in central and southern Ontario may not love Ontario Parks wood, but as you move further north, the quality greatly improves. Moving firewood from one destination to another can cause devastation. We saw this first hand in MacGregor Point, where huge swaths of the forest had been cut down due to the Emerald Ash Borer beetle invasion.
Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park Camping
Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park camping is fantastic. This park had been on my family’s radar for a while due to its beautiful waterfalls. And once we had a chance to experience it for ourselves, we weren’t disappointed. It’s a park that is worth some hype. But it’s also small, and some amenities need tender loving care.
There’s a relatively small number of campsites at Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park. Just 10 non-electrical sites and 32 electrical sites for a total of just 42 campsites in total. There are no group campgrounds available. None of the campsites at Kap Kig Iwan are listed as “barrier-free.” So if you have mobility issues, you’ll definitely want to call ahead to ensure that you call ahead of time to see which sites might work best for you.
The campsites at Kap Kig Iwan are divided into two sections. The “Campground” contains the electrical sites and barrier-free site while the “Lower Camp Loop” contains the radio-free non-serviced campsites.
The serviced campground has relatively easy access to a comfort station that includes showers, sinks, and flush toilets. When we visited in 2022, four of the six showers were non-functioning. If you’re on the wester-edge of the serviced campground, it’s a bit of a hike to the comfort station. And if you’re in the non-serviced campground, it’s quite a distance, as seen from the Kap Kig Iwan Park map below.
Things to do in Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park
Kap Kig Iwan is a tiny park when compared to most Ontario Provincial Parks. But there are a surprising number of things to do in Kap Kig Iwan if you love being active Whether you’re spending the weekend at Kap Kig Iwan or camping for a whole week, you find plenty to do while you’re there.
Hiking and Skiing at Kap Kig Iwan
Hiking the trails is one of the top things to do at Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park. There are some absolutely wonderful hikes at the park with gorgeous landscapes, serene forests, and ample waterfalls. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular trails so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Hell’s Gate Trail
2.5 km return-(1 hour)-Moderate
This is by far the most popular hike in Kap Kig Iwan. Although its name might sound ominous, the hike is beautiful. The 2.5 km loop winds along the Englehart River, dipping into the mixed forest and then darting out again to overlooks over four of the park’s waterfalls.
This hike can get fairly muddy after heavy rain, especially where it connects to the Upland Circle Trail. I recommend bringing waterproof hiking shoes if you have them.
Upland Circle Trail
5 km-(2.5 hours)-Moderate
Bird lovers often find this to be their favorite hike in Kap Kig Iwan park. perched among the pine, beech, and poplar stands you can often find Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and woodpeckers.
High Falls Trail
500 metres (10-minutes)-Easy
What was once a much longer trail that included a bridge crossing and a winding trail along the Englehart River opposite the Hell’s Gate Trail is now a brief hike to a scenic overlook over High Falls. While the trail may be short, it’s incredibly scenic and offers the best lookout in the park.
More Things To Do At Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park
Kap Kig Iwan has no lakes and the Englehart River is quite rough. As a result there is no swimming or paddling options at the park. That being said there is more than just hiking to enjoy.
- Birding – Numerous bird species throughout the year can be seen at Kap Kig Iwan.
- Biking – The long winding roads and wide Long Trail are popular for use with mountain and gravel bikes.
- Winter hiking – Most of the trails are open for winter hiking.
- Snowshoeing – Most trails are open for snowshoeing during winter months.
- Cross-country skiing – There are several trails that are open for cross-country skiing during the winter.
Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park For Families
Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park is incredibly family-friendly. The fun for young kids begins with the adventurous hiking trails and continues with fabulous picnic spots and beautiful waterfalls. High Falls is a thrill as the mist from the powerful fall can be a fun way to cool down in the summer heat.
Just make sure you pack a waterproof camera. You’ll want to capture all of those amazing Kap Kig Iwan moments.
The Boreal Route
If you’d like to dive deeper into the northern Ontario Boreal Route, check out our Boreal Route video on YouTube. You’ll see everything that we got up to on this fabulous northern Ontario road trip.
Have You Been Camping At Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park?
Kap Kig Iwan Provincial Park camping offers something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting with kids or enjoying some weekend warrior adventures, I hope that these tips for camping at Kap Kig Iwan have helped you.
And feel free to drop any questions or comments below. I always answer them.
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Disclosure: My stay at Kap Kig Iwan and the Boreal Route was done in partnership with Ontario Parks. As always, all opinions remain my own.
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