Agawa River running through the Agawa Canyon.

Agawa Canyon

The Agawa Canyon is a naturally occurring shallow canyon in Ontario, Canada. The canyon sits in the Algoma District, which is a sparsely populated area along the edge of the Great Lakes, on the west edge of Northeastern Ontario. The canyon splits the bedrock of Ontario, the Canadian Shield, and was carved by the natural flow of the Agawa River.

Landscape Of The Agawa Canyon

Agawa Canyon
Aerial view of the Agawa Canyon.

The canyon itself has a depth of 175 metres, and is thought to be about 1.2 billion years old. It sits between the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Forest zone and the Boreal Forest zone. There are four different waterfalls which feed into the canyon, and the Agawa river more generally. They include the North and South Black Beaver Falls, which measure roughly 53metres in height, the Bridal Veil falls, which are the tallest in the area at 68.5 meters, and the Otter Creek Falls which are just under 14 meters.


Snowfall levels in the canyon are high - annually some 450 centimetres or more have been recorded with a record, on average with the heaviest year (1989) hitting 782 centimetres of snow. 

Visiting The Agawa Canyon

Agawa Canyon trail
A trail running through the wilderness in the Agawa Canyon.

The area is primarily an outdoor attraction popular with nature and outdoor enthusiasts. There are five different hiking and walking trails in the park, which include the Ed Foote Trail, Lookout Trail, Otter Creek Trail, River Trail, and Talus Trail. The lookout trail includes a climb of some 372 steps which lead to a lookout along the canyon’s edge. The lookout itself is a platform which offers a panoramic view overlooking the gorge. The observation platform is at a height of roughly 75 meters above the Algoma Central Railway, below. The train is actually one of the few (and easiest) ways to access the canyon and park, and various times transport visitors to the region throughout the year.

The canyon region is also part of the larger Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park, which was opened officially in 1952. Roughly three million people have visited Agawa Canyon, and it continues to be an attraction for outdoor enthusiasts.

Aside from hiking and walking trails, ice climbing is also popular in the canyon. Established routes have been created in the canyon for ice climbers both new and experienced. They include vertical trails such as the Trestle, Salmon Run and Sweating Whiskey. 

Wildlife In The Agawa Canyon

Agawa canyon forest
Forest in the Agawa Canyon.

The area in and around the canyon is rich in plants and wildlife. Common plant species in the canyon and along the gorge include fireweed, hawkweed, Oxeye daisy, nodding trillium, and clintonia. Viper's bugloss, bladder campion, yarrow, evening primrose and a variety of asters are also all common here.

The Agawa canyon and surrounding area are home to a variety of animals, both within the river and the boreal forests in the region. The upper portion of Otter Creek offers a natural spawning bed for fish species such as speckled trout. Many of the smaller falls in the area are created by dams built by beavers, which are also common in the area. Aside from beavers, otters also live within the Agawa River. Small mammals are also prominent, as they can move easily among the rocky canyon walls. Species such as chipmunks, groundhogs, squirrels and voles all reside in the area. Bird species include ravens, robins, grackles, ruffed grouse, and great blue herons as well as a large variety of raptors which hunt or nest in the canyon, including merlins, golden eagles, broad-winged hawks and American kestrels. Ducks such as mergansers, wood ducks and goldeneyes, live mainly within the river itself. 


More in Landforms