Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter Walk on the Bruce Trail – Sherman Falls to Canterbury Falls

One thing we can say about this year is that the mild temperatures and low volumes of snow in this area have made this season very favourable for winter hiking. Early morning on Saturday, January 14 I headed out to explore the trails. Parking at the corner of Lions Club Road where it meets Old Dundas Road, I headed into the woods in the direction of Sherman Falls. This is a short walk and the fresh snow from the prior day gave the whole area a clean and bright look. Admiring the icicles forming on the rocks, this was the ideal spot for my morning coffee. Sherman Falls is impressive at any time of year, and at 17 metres high provides plenty of perspectives for photo taking. On this day I had decided to continue on the Bruce Trail with the goal of reaching Canterbury Falls which is a waterfall I had never visited before. To get there, I returned back in the direction I had come but now on the other side of the stream. Following the trail up the steep rock, I was soon at the top and walking through the woods deeper into the Canterbury Hills area. One of the great things about hiking in the winter is the quiet and solitude. With the exception of the sound of my boots crunching through the snow and the jingle of Rosie’s dog tags, the silence was perfect.

The air was crisp and the light snow cover made the green colour of the moss covered rocks really stand out.

The Canterbury Falls area really has two waterfalls, both of them being fed by a tributary of Sulphur Creek, which is also sometimes referred to as Canterbury Creek.

The first one you get to is called Little Canterbury Falls. This is a 5 metre (16 feet) tall ribbon cascade with a crest width of 1 metre (3 feet). It experiences its strongest flow during seasonal storms and after the winter snow melt.

The second and larger of the 2 is Canterbury Falls which is a 9.5 metre (31 feet) high terraced ribbon cascade with a crest width of 3.3 metres (11 feet). A wooden footbridge crosses the creek right at the crest of this waterfall providing an interesting vantage point for viewing. We spent some time here, enjoying the fact that we had the whole area to ourselves. After quietly watching a group of deer working their way through the valley, we headed back, making a mental note to definitely visit this area again soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crook’s Hollow Historical Trail

Saturday, January 7, 2012 certainly did not feel like a winter day. With the sun shining and the temperature hovering around 7 degrees Celsius, it was a perfect day for exploring. Following a short stop at Tom Horton’s to pick up coffee, I headed up to Greensville, parking on the side of Crook’s Hollow Road at the entrance to the Crook’s Hollow Historical Trail.

The ruins of the Darnley Grist Mill capture your attention immediately with their rough stone walls and remains of old window frames. A nearby plaque explains the history of the mill and standing there in its shadow you can’t help but wonder what life must have been like, back in the day when water powered grinding wheels were used to process flour and grains.

The Darnley Grist Mill was constructed between 1811 and 1813. Originally the building was square and was 3 stories high. A nine metre high overshot waterwheel was mounted on the outside wall beside Spencer Creek. Water was drawn over the wheel to power the mill, which housed four sets of grindstones used for feed and flour production.
Leaving the site of the mill and walking along the edge of the creek, you quickly arrive at the Darnley Cascade. This 4 Metre high waterfall is formed as Spencer Creek drains from Christie Lake and heads towards the Valley. An interesting fact is that the Darnley Cascade, at 225 metres above sea level is the highest elevation waterfall in the Hamilton area. Continuing along the trail, the large and impressive Christie Dam Looms. This imposing structure which was constructed beginning in 1970 features a continuous walkway across the top providing an excellent view of Christie Lake.
On this day we spent some time admiring the lake from the dam and then proceeded up the trail as it follows the western shore of the lake. This is a great trail winding through pines and providing great views of the lake.

Christie Lake is one of the most beautiful lake settings on the Niagara Escarpment. Within its 336 hectares (830 acres) are 10 kilometres of trails, a wildlife management area, wide open spaces, tall grass prairie meadows, forests and a 360 metre sand beach. Visitors may enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer with canoeing, fishing, swimming, picnicking, hiking, and even cross-country skiing when conditions permit.The Crook’s Hollow Historical Trail is certainly not as well known as other parts of the Dundas Valley area but it is well worth a visit and is rich in natural beauty as well as history.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Hermitage – Ancaster

Walking up the laneway of the Hermitage on a snowy January morning, it is easy to envision that you are stepping back in time. As you approach this formerly magnificent home in the Dundas Valley, you can almost imagine parties and day to day activity going on in what was a very prominent home in its day.
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.
A Google search of this site will reveal many articles detailing alleged paranormal activity in this area. One that sticks out was reported by a group of young men who saw an apparition of the house restored to its former glory with lights on in the windows and very obvious signs of life. Others have reported hearing footsteps following them and whispers behind them and someone reported having seen a glowing corpse that vanished when they went in for a better look at it.
The Hermitage history is rich with legend and romantic tragedies of suicide and lovers scorned. The rumours and dark stories of murders and satanic rituals as well as the sightings and quiet woods make it a place that will forever be whispered about when the darkness falls and the moonlight shines.

In spite of this, I have to confess that I just found the site to be incredibly peaceful, particularly on this snowy day.

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.

A short distance away, you will find the gatehouse of the Hermitage and directly behind it is the Hermitage Cascade. This beautiful cascade waterfall is 13 feet (4 metres) in height and is very pretty. There are many good reasons to check out this trail in the Dundas Valley and both the Hermitage and the Hermitage Cascade are well worth the visit.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Sydenham Falls Trail

“There’s a waterfall where??”

That was my immediate reaction when my brother called me and asked how I felt about an early morning fall hike into Sydenham Falls. Even though I had lived in this area for over 20 years I was totally unaware that this waterfall existed.

That was a year ago, and now I make a point of hiking the Sydenham Falls trail at least once each season. The great thing about this trail is that it actually contains 3 waterfalls and if you visit when the runoff is heavier you will get a chance to view a fourth.

Often times in the past, I had seen the trail heading into the woods at the bottom of the Sydenham Hill in Dundas, Ontario, not ever realizing the beauty and amazing rock formations that would appear just steps beyond.

The first waterfall that you come to is called Lower Sydenham Falls. It is approximately 13 feet high and is located below the railway bridge that crosses Sydenham Creek. There is a narrow wooden bridge that provides a good spot to view from and if you are feeling adventurous, a narrow and steep trail will take you to the water level. As you continue up the trail about 100 metres, heading steadily uphill into the escarpment, you will find a side trail on your right with a very steep downhill grade. This somewhat treacherous descent will take you to the bottom of Middle Sydenham Falls. The climb is worth it as this 20 feet high washboard curtain falls is spectacular! Heading back up the main trail, you arrive at Upper Sydenham Falls, which at approximately 45 feet tall is the largest of the three. It is a beautiful ribbon type falls and is a great spot to take photos.
In between Middle and Upper Sydenham Falls, you will see the fourth waterfall which is also beautiful but tends to dry up in the summer. This waterfall is called Lafarge Falls. This tall ribbon falls has water cascading down a rock face full of colour. On this day, December 31, 2011, we had just experienced a day of light rain which ensured that the falls was flowing well. The easiest way to access this trail is through Cascades Park which is on Livingstone Drive in Dundas. I highly recommend this trail if you are looking to see a lot of waterfalls in a short span of time. Also, this trail features a lot of uphill walking as you make your way up the escarpment so you get an additional cardio workout as a bonus!

For your information, we now have a new page on Facebook. Please visit and “LIKE” us!
We will use that page to post photos as well as to provide current information on trail conditions and events. Come join the conversation!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!!

Best wishes to you all for a happy and healthy 2012. I wanted to share a photo I took on New Years Day while hiking at Websters Falls in Dundas.We now have a new page on Facebook. Please visit and “LIKE” us!
We will use that page to feature more photo’s as well as current information on trail conditions and events. Come join the conversation!!