Breaking out of the loop: Hiking Bruce Trail in Hamilton

Recently, I’ve been guilty of allowing myself to fall into the same home-work cycle, at times feeling like an android host in Westworld, going through the same narrative loop and desperately wishing for the writers to introduce a new twist to my story. Weekend microadventures slowly gave way to other engagements and fickle spring weather. The month of April got compressed into a blur, and no matter how much I tried to grab at its edges to stretch it out just a little bit, it kept slipping away leaving me craving greenery and silence. So when a work event came up in Hamilton, I used the opportunity to stay behind and do some hiking.

Bruce Trail in Hamilton

With Niagara Escarpment hugging the city, Hamilton has no shortage of things to climb and trails to hike, and you are bound to end up on Bruce Trail eventually.

Bruce Trail marker

I started with the Escarpment Rail Trail, which took me from the city centre to the foot of the Wentworth Stairs. With close to 500 steps, they are the longest in Hamilton and quite a fit to climb.

Wentworth Stairs in Hamilton, ON    Wentworth Stairs in Hamilton

Once I got to the top, I took a side trail that led me back down to the Escarpment Trail. This multipurpose path is used by hikers, walkers, joggers and cyclists so it’s pretty wide and mostly paved. The trail kept climbing up the Escarpment wall leaving busy streets of Hamilton down below.

Escarpment Rail Trail in Hamilton, ON

The white blazes indicated Bruce Trail ran along this section as well. It later split off into the woods, winding through rocks and mud and over fallen trees, signs of the previous week’s wind storm. It eventually crossed the Escarpment Trail again and veered off back into the woods.

Escarpment Rail Trail and Bruce Trail in Hamilton

Bruce Trail in Hamilton    Bruce Trail in Hamilton

Bruce Trail in the spring

Bruce Trail in Hamilton    fallen trees on Bruce Trail in Hamilton

fallen tree on Bruce Trail in Hamilton

Niagara Escarpment in Hamilton    cave along Bruce Trail in Hamilton

view of Hamilton from the Escarpment

I came across a few more sets of stairs: Kimberly Stairs running down and Margate Stairs going to the very top of the Escarpment. My favourite, however, were the Uli Stairs. Unlike their metal cousins, these were made of stone and wood seamlessly merging with the surroundings.

view of Hamilton from Kimberly stairs   Margate Stairs in Hamilton

Uli stairs in Hamilton

Uli stairs in Hamilton    Uli stairs in hamilton

As I followed the Escarpment Trail, jumping on and off the Bruce and running up and down seemingly endless sets of stairs, I felt the coil inside me slowly unwind. Spring was in full force with its shiny green crispness and joyful blooms. Somewhere between work deadlines and Netflix I missed its arrival so this lushness took me by surprise. I felt giddy to be back on the trail, to get into mud and skip over rocks, to hug trees and bathe in spring’s intoxicating freshness.


green leaves in the spring   maple leaves in the spring

blue flowers

violet    periwinkles

white blossom    dandelions

spring blossoms

By the time I got on the GO bus to head back home, every muscle in my body was happily tired, my head was clear, my spirit was light, and I felt human again.

cherry tree with Bruce trail white blaze

4 thoughts on “Breaking out of the loop: Hiking Bruce Trail in Hamilton

  1. Pingback: The Best of 2018 | Gone Camping

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