Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goodbye 2012

I have to admit, I am a big fan of the changing seasons in Ontario. I love the newness of spring, the deep greens and wildlife activity of the summer, the intense colours of fall and the silence and clean landscapes of winter.
This is also the time of year that I build my plan and goals for the new year and take time to reflect on the year gone by.
Waking this morning to a fresh covering of snow, I took full advantage of the opportunity to explore the Spring Creek Trail and take the time to think back with gratitude on the many hiking and camping opportunities that I had in 2012.
There is something about a fresh covering of snow that helps to clear your head and cleanse your mind and I returned from this hike feeling truly refreshed.
It was just over a year ago that I started this blog and in that time I have explored many of the trails of the Dundas Valley. I have had the opportunity to share thoughts with readers and meet some terrific people who share my passion for hiking and photography. It has been a lot of fun and I have learned a lot.
I am looking forward to much more exploring in this area in 2013 and sharing more photos and hiking ideas with you.
A sincere thank you for the many comments and words of encouragement this year. They are greatly appreciated.

Also, thank you for the many of you that have visited and left comments on my Facebook page at:

Please accept my wishes to you for a healthy and happy 2013 and one that is filled with amazing outdoor experiences.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Snowfall of the Year

The first snowfall of the year means for me a chance to get out and explore while everything is covered in a blanket of white.

Looking out the window on the morning of December 1, a beautiful scene presented itself with the trees and the yard covered in an inch or so of fresh white snow. With coffee in hand, Rosie and I headed to Cascades Park which is located on Livingstone Drive in Dundas and started hiking up the Bruce Trail side trail that heads to Upper Sydenham Falls.

Although the water level was low, icicles had formed on the face of this 45 foot ribbon type waterfall. It was hard to imagine that just 24 hours before there would have been none to see.

The winter season is just beginning and I am looking forward to exploring as many of the trails and waterfalls as I can.

Don’t forget, for more photos and hiking information, you can visit my Facebook page at:

Thanks for visiting!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christie Wildlife Area

The morning fog was just starting to lift as Rosie and I headed down the trail at the Christie Wildlife area. I had found this spot completely by accident, driving north on Middletown Road just north of Regional Road 8. Fortunately, I had spotted the small parking lot on the left side of the road and now as luck would have it, we were exploring a new trail.

This beautiful marsh area feeds into Christie Lake and features a relatively short and mostly flat perimeter trail that follows the shoreline of the marsh. I can imagine that this area is teeming with wildlife during the spring and summer months but with it now being mid November it was quiet with the exception of some song birds and a few groups of ducks, mostly mallards occupying the water.

Exploring the trails, we walked through stands of cedar and pine transitioning into maple and other deciduous trees on the western shoreline. The trail was mostly grass covered and well marked and features a bridge where the trail begins the returning portion.

You can see by my GPS that I made one small error requiring me to backtrack when I realized I was off course but other than that the walk was enjoyable and quiet.

Returning, I made a mental note to definitely plan on a returning as I would love to see the landscape during the winter, spring and summer seasons as well.

Don’t forget, for more photos and hiking information, you can visit my Facebook page at:

Thanks for visiting!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sulphur Springs

For my recent birthday, my parents presented me with the book, Touring the Giants Rib, A Guide to the Niagara Escarpment by Lorina and Gary Stephens. Fully aware of my love of hiking in this area, they always know how to find me gifts that help to feed my passion for the outdoors.

Flipping through it, I stopped on a description of Sulphur Springs and realized that although I frequently drive by and hike through this area, I know very little of the history of this unique spot.

During the late 1800s, the Sulphur Springs Hotel with its mineral spa was a popular summertime destination. The sulphur waters were believed to have wondrous curative powers and as a result they attracted visitors from far and wide. The hotel closed in 1910 after two severe fires. Although the hotel is gone, the fountain that supplied the sulphur water remains.

Stopping the car along the side of the Sulphur Springs Road, the first thing you notice is the distinctive sulphur smell. Plaques on the fountain provide some information on its heritage as well as some detail into what makes this water so distinct.
This site is easy to find while driving on Sulphur Springs Road between Ancaster and Dundas and can also be accessed from the Main Loop Trail while hiking in the Dundas Valley. You will find it while hiking the area between the Trail Centre and the Hermitage site.

This is just another unique feature that makes the Dundas Valley such a rich and interesting place to explore.

Don’t forget, for more photos and hiking information, you can visit my Facebook page at:

Thanks for visiting!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Hike to the Hermitage

One of my favorite areas of the valley to visit in the fall is The Hermitage. This ruin that dates back to before 1855 has a very interesting history and is particularly picturesque when surrounded by the vibrant colours of autumn.

The Hermitage can be found while hiking from the Dundas Valley Trail Centre and is located on the Main loop. This trail is a favourite of mine, filled with rolling hills, streams and moss covered rocks. There is also a small parking area at the Gatehouse Museum that provides for a shorter trail.

If in this area, step behind the Gatehouse Museum to see the Hermitage Cascade. This beautiful cascade waterfall is 13 feet (4 metres) in height and is very pretty.

On a recent visit, we started at the Hermitage Cascade, than followed the trail as it meanders towards the ruins of what was at one time an elegant estate.

According to the historical plaque at the ruins, stones used in construction were quarried from local sites, the red bricks from the Dundas Valley and the limestone sills from the Credit River Valley. The Hermitage had several owners before it was acquired by George Gordon Leith in 1855.  After George’s death in 1901, his daughter Alma Dick-Lauder bought the estate from the rest of the family and lived there until 1934, when a fire broke out during a party and burned the house down. Even after this fire, Alma continued to live on the site, building a modest home within the ruins where she lived until her death in 1942.

With the surrounding tree’s rich in red and yellows, the front facade of the home provides some indication of how majestic it once was. This is an interesting area to visit as you wonder around the remaining walls of the house and its outbuildings.
With its rich history and beautiful surroundings, a hike into this area is always worthwhile.
Don’t forget, for more photos and hiking information, you can visit my Facebook page at: Happy hiking!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Hike at Christie Lake

With the fall colours in full swing and our Thanksgiving weekend underway, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try a hiking trail that I had wanted to do for some time, the “around the lake” trail at Christie Lake.

Getting there early, I parked on Crooks Hollow Road right by the ruins of the Darnley Mill. Walking up the laneway towards the dam, I followed the trail to the left in the direction of the western shoreline of the lake. This trail is well marked and takes you past stands of towering pines and sumac that were ablaze in red.

As the trail approaches the northern point of the lake it becomes marshy and is heavily populated with ducks and geese foraging among the bulrushes.

 The best shoreline for viewing the fall colours in the eastern shore as it opens up along the beach. It provides clear views of the opposing shoreline and on this day seemed to be at its peak of colour.

Rounding a bend I spotted this blue heron and was fortunate enough to have him allow me to get very close for this photo.

 At the south end of the lake I crossed the dam, another great spot to take photos from and then followed the trail back, stopping to view the Darnley Cascade along the way. Although the water flow was light, it still made for a beautiful view.

This trail is approximately 4 miles long and took me about an hour and a half including time to stop for photos.

Don’t forget, for more photos and hiking information, you can visit my Facebook page at:

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Crooks Hollow Conservation Area Revisited

The only disappointment I experienced last weekend revisiting Crooks Hollow was realizing when I got there that I had neglected to put a memory card in my camera meaning I would have to rely on my iPhone for any photos taken.
I last visited this area back in July and you can see my blog post on that visit in the archives from July 14, 2012. At that time I had been impressed with the work that had been done in removing the dam and re-naturalizing the area. Now, a short time later, I am happy to report that it looks even better. The marshland is well along in establishing itself and the area is teeming with songbirds and butterflies.

On this day, I walked first from the parking lot, along the creek to the observation bridge and then returned the same way enjoying the dragonflies and birds along the trail.
With the day being so nice, I decided to continue in a westerly direction along the Crooks Hollow trail as it meets the road and then links up with the historical Darnley Mill ruin. Turning in along the entrance there I followed the trail stopping to enjoy the somewhat drier than usual Darnley Cascade, then crossing the Christie Lake Dam and following the shoreline of the lake. I stopped to admire this snake that was sunning himself in the trail and then continued a short distance before returning.
I have to say that I really enjoy this area and left making a mental note that I would like to return in the near future and hike the entire perimeter of Christie Lake, something I have not tried in the past. Stay posted for more detail and hopefully some better quality photos.
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Thanks for the ongoing support and dialogue.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spring Creek – Sawmill Trail Loop

Last Saturday morning I was looking to hit a trail both as a cardio workout as well as to test out a new pedometer app that I had added to my phone. Staying close to home, I decided that I would hike the Spring Creek Trail to the Trail Centre and then return a different way, creating sort of a loop. This turned out to be a good idea both from a workout standpoint as well as an opportunity to enjoy some beautiful parts of the Dundas Valley.

You can start this hike at the end of Bridlewood Drive in Dundas, entering the valley on the well marked trail and heading west. The Spring Creek trail like the name insinuates, follows the meandering Spring Creek and runs roughly parallel to the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail. You pass a pond that I often stop at to watch frogs and birds and pass through hilly Carolinian forest.

This is a great spot to observe deer particularly if you hike in the early morning or late afternoon. On this day I was able to get within about 15 feet of a pair of them as they grazed and even with Rosie at my side they did not seem particularly concerned with my presence.

Stopping at the Trail Centre for some water we started heading back in the direction we came, but veering left when we got to the marker for the Sawmill Trail. This trail takes you through milkweed filled meadows interspersed with black walnut trees and then directs you deeper into the valley.

The key is to stay to your right as side trails branch off at various points. It was noticeably cooler as we walked along the creek edge and I enjoyed how complete the silence was; only broken by the song of the various finches and chickadees that flitted in and out of the sumac trees.

This trail ends at the John White Trail. Turning right and crossing a wooden foot bridge, you soon arrive back on the Spring Creek Trail. Head east and you will arrive back at the starting point in about 15 minutes. Other than my pedometer app stopping at some point likely due to being in a low area with no cell service, this was a very enjoyable walk. At about 3 miles, it took me just over an hour but that included stopping to take photos and letting Rosie play in the water.

For more pics and info, visit my Facebook page at: Happy hiking!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Relaxing at Turkey Point Beach

Taking a short break before school resumes, this week we spent five sun filled fun days at a cottage in Turkey Point.  Although a deviation from my usual pattern of finding hiking trails to explore, I have to admit that at this time I was continually drawn to the beach and spent as much time there as I could.

Getting up with the sun, I took pride in being the first one on the beach each day, arriving just as the colour in the sky was changing and enjoying a magnificent sunrise that seemed to be taking place for my enjoyment alone.

What an amazing way to start the day! With a fresh coffee and in the company of a dog that seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, I looked forward to this soul cleansing ritual each morning.

After spending the day swimming in the warm waters and catching up on reading, we would often return for an after dinner stroll and a few times returned late in the evening to catch the sight of the moon reflecting off the waters.

With the interesting tide pools, warm sand and stunning sunrises, this beach is well worth visiting.

Next week, more hiking in the Dundas Valley. For more pics and info, visit my Facebook page at: Happy hiking!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Urquhart Butterfly Garden – A Treasure in the Valley

As if the endless trails and waterfalls weren’t enough, Dundas is also home to the Urquhart Butterfly Garden. Named after pioneering entomologists Dr. Frederick and Norah Urquhart, who after forty years of patient research solved the mystery of the migrating monarchs, construction of Canada's first municipal butterfly garden began in 1994.
Located in Centennial Park on the banks of the Desjardins Canal, it is heavily planted with nectar and foliage plants needed by butterflies and their caterpillars. It is maintained without the use of pesticides, many of which are detrimental to butterfly populations.

The garden now consists of six large raised beds, each approximately 75 × 35 feet, as well as the adjacent bank of the canal. All are planted with shrubs, perennials and annuals.

On any given day as I walk the meandering paths of the garden, I will spot a variety of butterflies and other insects. The selection seen depends on the season and so is always changing and interesting. There is a kiosk on site which houses a number of interpretive panels identifying many of the butterflies and plants you will see here, illustrating butterfly metamorphosis and explaining how to create butterfly-friendly yards at home.
According to their website, the garden is the brainchild of local businesswoman Joanna Chapman, who in 1992 catalyzed the formation of a group known as the "Butterfly Coalition". Members of the Coalition secured funding, identified an appropriate site, solicited contributions in kind from many local businesses and individuals, gained the support of the Town of Dundas and devoted many hours of their own time to planting and maintaining the garden.
Being at the site of the canal, there are always opportunities to spot ducks, swans and other waterfowl as well. Quiet and peaceful, it is well worth a visit.

Interested in more information on the Dundas Valley? Visit my Facebook page at: Happy hiking!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sherman Falls – Illuminated!!!

With its short trail and ease of access, Sherman Falls is one of my favorite “go to” destinations when I am looking to sneak in a quick hike. Waterfalls have been drier than normal this summer but with the rain we had last weekend I felt that it be worthwhile to check it out and I’m glad I did.
Parking at the corner of Old Ancaster Road and Lions Club Road in Ancaster, I headed up the trail and within minutes was enjoying the beauty of Sherman Falls, which I had all to myself.
Sherman Falls is a 17 metre (56 foot) multi tier waterfall surrounded by rugged limestone, mossy rock and natural forest. It has two cascading drops with a wide flat ledge that divide the upper and lower falls.  The double tier makes this waterfall particularly interesting.
Later that day I posted a photo of Sherman Falls on my Facebook page and was contacted by Chris Ecklund, the man behind the City of Waterfalls with the suggestion that we return an illuminate the falls that night. It sounded like a great idea to me so later that evening we returned and along with a group of volunteers placed around 30 battery powered spotlights in the rocks facing the falls.

These spotlights, each providing 25 million candlepower of light were fitted with a purplish red lenses and when activated bathed the waterfall in a soft purple light. A number of people came by to take photos and enjoy the view.
Hiking and exploring these trails is always a great experience, but for me they take on a special feel at night. I think that the dark makes your sense of hearing more acute and sitting on a rock near the base of the waterfall enjoying the sound of the water and the cool sweet smells of the forest always brings me a powerful sense of peace.

Thank you to the many that have been visiting and sharing my Facebook page at:
Always appreciated. Happy hiking!!