It’s been a particularly wet spring. The last two months have felt like one unending rainfall with an occasional sunny break. I started wondering if that is what it feels like to live in Vancouver or Great Britain. The rain has caused lots of trouble but it’s been good for some things. Lush vegetation is one of them. And waterfalls, of course. So no wonder we spent our May microadventures chasing waterfalls around Hamilton.
Tiffany Falls to Sherman Falls to Dundas Valley
A couple of weeks ago we decided to start our microadventure at Tiffany Falls around Ancaster, then hike all the way to Canterbury Falls checking out a couple of other cascades along the way. It was a beautiful Saturday, a bit cloudy but rain free and warm, so a small parking lot near Tiffany Falls was full. We managed to squeeze our car somewhere along the edge, grabbed some water and headed towards the falls.
The walk to the falls takes about five minutes with a couple of bridges along the way and a viewing platform at the end. As far as waterfalls go, at 21 meters Tiffany Falls isn’t as high as, say, Devil’s Punchbowl or Tew’s Falls but it is very pretty with water tumbling down over layers of rock.
After snapping a couple, or a couple dozen, photos, we turned back to the parking lot. We met a few people heading in the opposite directions and a frog king sitting in a stump waiting to be kissed, I guess.
At the parking lot, we crossed the road and after a short walk joined Bruce Trail. It’s been almost a month since we last hiked the Bruce and the landscape has changed drastically. The forest that had been nothing but outlines before was now spilling over with green. In fact, it looked more like a jungle than a forest in Ontario.
After about 40 minutes of walking through this lush greenness, we reached Sherman Falls. This falls, as it turned out, is located on a private property but owners granted access to hikers. Must be nice to own a waterfall.
Sherman Falls is a 17-metre-high curtain falls, often nicknamed Angel Falls or Fairy Falls, and I could see why. It definitely had a fairy tale quality to it.
After enjoying this beautiful sight for a while, we continued onto the Bruce Trail until we came across the trail closure. As it turned out, the maps I consulted were outdated. The trail has been re-routed and there is no direct connection from Sherman Falls and Canterbury Falls.
We followed the new route and ended up in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. We visited Dundas Valley several times before but never hiked in this part of the park. We followed the Monarch Trail, then a part of the Main Loop until we reached the Trail Centre, where we sat down for a snack.
Instead of retracing our steps back, we took Merrick Lane towards Lions Club Road and then followed the road all the way to Sherman Falls. The road was pretty deserted with a hardly a car in sight so it was a pleasant walk.
The final stretch of our route lay through the same jungle along Bruce Trail that we’d passed earlier.
So our final count for the day was two spectacular waterfalls and about eight kilometres of hiking. We never reached Canterbury Falls but there is always another time.
Albion Falls to Felker’s Falls
The next weekend we were back on the Bruce exploring more waterfalls. Our friend Fancy Boots joined us, ever so faithful to her namesake.
This time we started at Albion Falls. It was the first truly hot day of the season so the falls area was spilling over with crowds, not just water. It was quite a sight with people wading through the water, splashing around, sunbathing along the edge and snapping pictures. Fancy Boots noted that it was fascinating how people are universally attracted to water. I guess we are not that different from animals gathering around a watering hole.
Albion Falls is one of my favourite in the Hamilton area. This 17-metre cascade doesn’t tumble but rather flows over the many rocky terraces creating hundreds of mini waterfalls.
After about 30 minutes of taking in the view and enjoying the fresh mist of the falls, we took the Red Hill Valley Trail down until it joined the Bruce. The Red Hill Valley Trail looked like fun but we decided to leave it for another time. Connecting Albion Falls to Lake Ontario, it offers several stops or meeting places along the way designed for sharing, learning, and enjoying the surrounding beauty, of course. The bear meeting place that we came across before turning onto Bruce was shaped like a paw and had an information panel explaining black bear’s significance in Indigenous cultures.
The Bruce Trail ran through the forest for a while but after crossing under the Red Hill Valley Parkway it joined a closed road, and then split off into the woods again running parallel to and occasionally merging with a paved bike trail.
We somehow missed Glendale Falls along the way and eventually reached Felker’s Falls where we stopped for lunch, a very late lunch I must say.
It wasn’t our first trip to Felker’s Falls, at least for my younger son and me, but the sight looked different, a reminder that nothing in nature is permanent. A shield of water we’d witnessed a few weeks earlier was now reduced to almost a trickle. I guess the waterfall chasing season is now closed until next year but we had a good run.
Final note: As I was writing this post, I learned that a young man died at Albion Falls while taking pictures. According to his friends, he lost his footing and fell from the cliff. A sad reminder to be extra careful, especially to all the photographers out there. As someone who enjoys taking pictures, I know the temptation to climb higher, get closer to the edge to get that perfect shot. But safety should always come first.