High Falls

High Falls

At High Falls nature is reclaiming the shoreline after a century of log drives and improvements; photographed in 2006.

River Improvements

A walk down this original section of the Old Bonnechere Road brings us to High Falls – a scenic vista today, but a problem spot in the past.

Early timber barrons used water to transport their squared logs to market. To carry the valuable pine logs down the Little Bonnechere, local river drivers conducted various ‘improvements.’ Dams were built to hold back water. Where there were steep bends in the river, glance cribs were built to direct the flow, and obstructing rocks were hauled from the river or blasted with dynamite.

High Falls was one of many spots on this river where it was necessary to direct newly harvested logs around an obstacle. In 1847 surveyor James McNaughton recorded a timber slide – or chute – at this site which did just that. Above the falls a dam would hold back extra water. As this water was released it carried the timber down the wood-framed chute, safely bypassing the rock-walled falls. Similar improvements were made all along the river where needed.

In later years, after the chute had deteriorated, a wooden apron was projected out over the falls as protection for shorter sawlogs which were transported to sawmills at Eganville and Ottawa.

The powerful elements of over a hundred spring floods have removed all but a few traces of this historic dam, apron and chute. Today, only churning waters flow over High Falls, just as nature meant it to be.

photo of family fishing along high falls on the little bonnechere river circa 1910
Circa 1910, at the height of the logging era, the shoreline at High Falls was stripped bare of vegetation.

Cool Creatures

Ponder the impact log drives, dams and river improvements had on the Little Bonnechere’s natural state. Before loggers and engineers arrived, the river’s brook trout found ideal habitats in the cool waters, gravelly riffles and rocky rapids of the headwater streams. Thus it’s likely that High Falls was an ideal spawning bed for these native trout.

Brook trout (aka speckled trout) seek out cold, clear water that is rich in oxygen, and shoreline debris and overhangs for shaded protection. Each fall they spawn in such riffles and rapids as they cannot tolerate the warm, murky conditions of the shallow, sluggish and more productive waters downstream from here. Bolstered by groundwater and pumped with fresh oxygen from the churning effect of the rapids, waters such as High Falls provide the ideal conditions for the trout and their offspring.

Imagine the damage to similar spawning beds and soft shorelines by the log drives which scoured the narrow creek banks like a pipe cleaner. Think too that most shoreline vegetation was cleared to ease the on-shore movements and activities of the river drivers. But today with the hey-day of the logging era in the past, the Little Bonnechere River runs wild once again.


  • original Bonnechere Tote Road
  • authentic corduroy bridging
  • High Falls
23.3 km from Cty Rd 58. Trailhead off Basin Road approximately 2 km northwest of Basin Depot.

Rating: Challenging walking opportunity based on distance and some rugged shoreline terrain.

Type: In and out

Distance: 4.4 km

Time: 2 hours

Surface: Old roadway turning into natural rocky forest floor near river’s edge.

UTM: 18T 281261 E 5066391 N

Our Nature | Our Culture

4024 Round Lake Road

Killaloe Ontario K0J 2A0


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