Pisew Falls Provincial Park

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Pisew Falls in Winter
Pisew Falls in June
Summer from front of Pisew Falls

Pisew Falls Provincial Park in Manitoba is located at the approximate midpoint between the small community of Wabowden and the much larger industrial and service centre of Thompson. It is located in the southwestern portion of the Mystery Lake Local Government District.

Pisew Falls park entrance.

Located approximately 700 km north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, 500 m from Highway 6, Pisew Falls is near Kwasitchewan Falls, Manitoba's highest waterfall which has a naturally occurring year-round flow.

The name, "Pisew", is translated from the local Cree language meaning "Lynx". It was so named because the sound of the hissing water bears a resemblance to the sound of this wild northern feline.

Story of the Lynx at Pisew Falls.

Its creation is due to the intensive geological activity in the area hundreds of thousands of years ago, when violent tectonic effects caused the creation of first a fault, and then an upheaval of the southern side of the fault-line.

This has left a rift in the landscape with a waterfall riotously cascading over and through it.

Micro-climate[edit]

Because of the continuous flow of water over the falls, the localized area has developed its own microclimate. A wide variety of mosses, lichens, and fungi can be found in the immediate area around the base of the falls. There are also a variety of ferns whose origins date back to before the last Ice Age. The dominant winter feature downstream and to the right of the falls is the ice that builds up on top of a small island there. This island only rises a few feet above the downstream water level in summer, but by late February, the ice accumulates to approximately 3–5 metres thick from the months of freezing spray.

At the periphery of this barrier between liquid water and frozen surroundings lies a thin ridge of plant growth that continues to survive throughout the harshest of the -45 degree Celsius days in this frigid northern wilderness. Normally the process of photosynthesis ceases in the surrounding area.

It is common to see one or more of the local otters using the large ice buildup as a "slide", providing the otters and lucky spectators with hours of amusement.

Officers of Manitoba Conservation ask that visitors keep the area clean and stay well away from the areas below the falls, which are clearly marked as "Environmentally Sensitive". As long as everyone co-operates in this respect, this remarkable piece of geography will be here for many generations to come.

Camping and hiking[edit]

Camping is not permitted at the falls themselves. There are no shower facilities, no electrical services, and the only toilet facilities are of the outhouse variety. There is a picnic area, and another place for a stopping if travelling further north or south.

There are two hiking trails with rugged campsites leading from the Picnic and Falls areas. The trails are very rugged, and only recommended for experienced backpackers to attempt. The trail to Kwasitchewan Falls is 22 km (about 13 miles) return.

Canoe and kayak[edit]

The campsites are accessible by water and a short portage via the Grass River and Phillips Lake. (map of the Kwasitchewan Falls Trail)

Motorized boats over 14 ft (4 m) are generally not recommended because of the lack of boat launching facilities.

Caution[edit]

There are several warnings about wildlife including bears. There are a number of black bears who reside in this area, as well as wolves, and cougars which have been spotted as far north as Thompson, Manitoba.

Due to the relatively high humidity present year-round, it is possible to slip on fresh wet greenery in the summer, and slick ice in the winter. It may be dangerous to stray too far off the clearly marked path. There has been one fatality at the falls in recent years,[1] and a Memorial Trail-Marker is there to mark it. The ledges are steep, the fall is long, and the current below is swift. Caution is advised at all times.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Pisew Falls at the Manitoba Department of Conservation.

Coordinates: 55°11′52″N 98°23′48″W / 55.19778°N 98.39667°W / 55.19778; -98.39667