Ragged Falls is a powerful sight of melting ice water, rushing downhill aggressively, like an olympic skier trying to race to the finish line. For sure, the water’s path isn’t easy to navigate. There are many hurdles along the way, such as ancient logs, jagged rocks, and silver-tinted icicles, all things that we saw on our ecotour with Algonquin Outfitters, along the Oxtongue River Trail, part of Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park.
Our Hike Begins
Justin, Melanie, and I were at the end of an enjoyable fatbike ecotour with our guide, Randy, when we collectively decided to take a detour hike to Ragged Falls in spite of the fact that it was the dead of winter.
The ground was covered by ice, with just enough snow patches to allow us to grip our feet as Justin, Melanie and I walked and shimmied along, heading uphill. We were guided by the rumbling sounds of the waterfall, and we could smell the natural aromas coming from the misted pine trees surrounding us.
Mid-path, we found a chain link fence where we got our first glance of the forcefully moving ice-formed waters. While the chain fence ruined the tranquility of our nature scene, it also kept us safe from the dangers of slipping on ice, which would have led to a potentially unpleasant and even treacherous ride towards the rapids.
The water was bubbling at its basin and appeared white and foamy, just like frothed milk, minus the coffee. The icy water flowed gracefully over the rocks.
Looking up and around, we saw many shades of colour, including greens and oranges from the winter forest trees, granite grey rocks, and tints of yellow and red from sediment that had been picked up in the water’s rush.
Quick History Lesson
The place where we had found ourselves, the Oxtongue River was used at the turn of the century as a logging chute, to carry logs over the river landscape to a sawmill (Source: Ontario.ca). Miraculously the waterfall has not been tampered with by the logging industry, and continues to flow the same way it has been flowing for the last few thousand years.
In a place of such amazing natural wonder, it really is no surprise that Canadian artists like Tom Thomson, among many others, have tried to recreate the beauty of Ragged Falls and the Oxtongue River through their work.
Shall We Continue?
“I’m definitely not walking further up this hill,” I said, in total fear of slipping on ice.
While the top of the waterfall was only 1 km away from where we stood, the slight tilt in elevation on our path had become increasingly challenging, with layers of ice beneath our feet. Unfortunately Melanie and I didn’t have the proper footgear for walking on ice.
“You guys continue, and we are going to stay here until you get back,” I said.
As we waited for the men to return, I gazed at the side of the rushing waterfall, imagining what it would be like to be there in the summertime, taking a kayak or canoe on the river. I could almost feel the spray of the water’s powerful splash culminating at the river basin.
Justin & Randy Take Photos
As Melanie and I stood mid-hill, for what may have seemed like hours on end, Justin and Randy went to collect the best nature shots they could.
Justin looked for unique nature patterns to capture on film, such as rows of glimmering icicles, juxtaposing positions and textures of rock surfaces, and frozen ice layers on top of tree branches and logs.
The Men Finally Returned
After the guys returned, we immediately backtracked to get our bikes. We said bye to Randy, and headed out of the brisk cold to the comforts of our warm, cozy accommodations at the Wolf Den Hostel & Nature Retreat.
Justin ecstatically expressed, to Melanie and myself, how wonderful the hike had been, adding that he would definitely do it all over again. I replied that I would, for sure, pack a solid pair of winter hiking shoes if I were coming along!
What You Should Know Before Visiting Ragged Falls
- Ragged Falls is off Highway 60, and is only 1 km off The Ragged Falls Oxtongue River trail, but provides a great view of the waterfall.
- Give yourself a few hours in the winter to see Ragged Falls, when conditions are more difficult for walking with snow and ice.
- Wear proper winter hiking shoes with excellent traction and grips for walking on slippery grounds.
About Algonquin Outfitters
Algonquin Outfitters promotes the enjoyment of the outdoors & deliver value to their customers by providing a full range of innovative and leading-edge quality equipment, coupled with expert advice, that stems from a shared enthusiasm for outdoor adventure.
For more information on fat biking rentals and tours with Algonquin Outfitters, visit http://algonquinoutfitters.com
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