Friday, February 24, 2012

February in the Valley – Fur, Falls and Family Day

The last couple of weeks have been great in the Dundas Valley, with ever changing weather and the introduction of the first ever Family Day Hot Chocolate Festival.
With these mild temperatures the snow, when it came, tended to be the wet sticky kind, which is just the kind that Rosie hates as it tends to stick to her fur, giving her paws the appearance of wearing white icy boots. Entertaining for me, not much fun for her.

On February 12, we hiked the trails around Sherman Falls. With the layer of fresh snow, the surrounding valley was beautiful and it was nice to be creating fresh tracks as we approached the base of this sixty foot tall waterfall, one of my favorites in the area. This past Christmas I received a small hiking thermos as a gift and have now made it a habit to try and hike into a great area like this each weekend in order to have my morning coffee in an outdoor setting. Having Sherman Falls to myself on this snowy morning made my coffee that much more enjoyable. Heading out on February 18, we hiked the trails from Tews Falls, along the valley edge towards the Dundas Peak. Enjoying my coffee at the viewing platform by Tews Falls was amazing with the only downside being the discovery that I had left the memory card for my camera at home. The following photos were taken with my iPhone.

Tews Falls is another favorite of mine and is a rare treasure in this area. At 134 feet tall (41 metres), it is the highest in the Hamilton area and is only 40 feet shorter than Niagara Falls. I am looking forward to a return visit in the summer with the opportunity to hike into this site from the bottom.

The first ever Family Day Hot Chocolate Festival took place on Monday, February 20 at the Dundas Valley Trail Centre.
This event, which came about through the initiative of 9 year old Dundas resident Braden Marshall, was a huge success with upwards of 1500 people along with dogs and the occasional horse visiting, hiking and sampling hot chocolate. Gorilla Cheese was on hand making their delicious grilled cheese delicacies and music was provided by legendary songwriter and singer John Ellison. It was a thrill to meet and chat with John, whose hit “Some Kind of Wonderful” is one of the most played radio songs ever written. With opportunities to make your own birdfeeder as well as story reading for the kids by some area authors, it was a terrific day of community and I’m sure the first of what will become a popular annual event.

For a month that is typically cold and dreary, this February has been unique, filled with sun and mild conditions perfect for outdoor activity. I am looking forward to seeing what March will bring.

Get out and enjoy this weekend!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Winter Wonderland on the Spring Creek Trail

In terms of weather, the morning of January 29 started in a similar fashion to what we had been experiencing most of this winter. Cool but clear, with clouds in an otherwise blue sky.With coffee in hand, I headed out for a short walk with my dog Rosie, heading up the Spring Creek Trail toward the Trail Centre.
Although the ponds were frozen, there was no snow on the ground and the hiking was easy. We stopped by a pond along the trail to admire the trees that were protruding through the ice and listened as the ice cracked and strained against their movement in the light breeze.Within a few hours we were home, unaware of how the landscape was about to change.
Around noon, the snow began to fall in big fluffy flakes, the kind of snow that kids love as it makes great snowmen and is perfect for facilitating a neighborhood snowball fight. Soon everything was covered in a blanket of white as the wet snow stuck to everything.Snow has been a rarity this year, especially this kind of snowfall, so a second hike into the valley to enjoy it was a “must do”.
Entering the woods, the view was stunning as every tree looked like it belonged on a Christmas card. Following the Spring Creek, we hiked through the trails, observing fresh deer and rabbit tracks and greeting other hikers who, like us were commenting on how clean and bright everything looked. We continued along the trail, essentially the identical walk I had done earlier in the day, but it could not have felt more different.
Returning home and reminiscing in front of a warm fire, we talked about just how blessed we are to have the natural beauty of the Dundas Valley so close at hand.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dyment Falls - Dundas

Finding myself with a mild fall afternoon and craving some outdoor time it seemed the perfect opportunity to go explore a new waterfall.

Researching on the City of waterfalls website, at , I learned that Dyment Falls was close by and a relatively short hike.

To get there, I parked at the lookout at the top of Sydenham Road in Dundas. Enjoying the sweeping view that takes in all of Dundas and provides views clear to the lake I noticed the blue Bruce Trail side trail marker indicating that the trail I was looking for was about 60 m up the road.

The trail begins its descent directly beside Dyment Falls and so provides views at various places along the way. There are rough stone stairs along some of the steeper points but this is still a trail where you need to watch your footing.

According to the City of Waterfalls site, Dyment Falls is a Complex Ribbon Falls with several vertical sections. It measures 15.7 metres in height (51 feet) and has a crest width of 4 metres (13 feet). Dyment Falls experiences its strongest flow during seasonal storms and after the snow melt.

It source is believed to be a tributary of the Spencer Creek which drains the roadside ditches of Sydenham Road and the Dyment farms across the road, hence the name, Dyment Falls.
On a return visit over the January 21 weekend, we had the opportunity to view the falls again, this time enhanced by icicles and frozen sections. Glimpses of water could be seen running behind the ice and along the face of the rock. I always find it incredible that significant sized trees are able to grow and thrive in the steep edges and rocky terrain of the escarpment and there are some very interesting ones to see here

This waterfall is relatively unknown but worth the visit. Consider stopping by if visiting Sydenham falls which is just minutes down the hill.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What a Winter!! February 4th and 5th, 2012

Although I typically write my blog update each Saturday, I was inspired to write an extra post this weekend due to the unseasonably warm February weekend we just had. Unbelievable!
I don’t recall ever seeing a Canadian winter like this in my lifetime, sunny days with almost no snow to mention.
I took full advantage this weekend and figured the time was right to re-visit a few of my favorite trails. Saturday morning I headed up to the Crooks Hollow area with my son John and visited the Darnley Mill and the Darnley Cascade. With no ice in the water and the shoreline plants giving off a red colour, it felt like a fall day. Although the trail turned muddy as it bordered Christie Lake it was great to get out and explore. Leaving there we walked the trail that borders the Crook’s Hollow March and watched hundreds of Canadian geese in the water and surrounding marshland. We also discovered a small waterfall that drained into it. It was hidden between large cedars but was a pretty cool discovery.

Waking Sunday morning, slightly groggy from a late night gig with my band and noticing that we had been blessed with another stunning day, I headed out again, this time with my daughter Julia for some more exploring. We headed to Great Falls, stopping to enjoy the view and then followed the Bruce Trail down into the hollow, following Grindstone Creek as it rushes over the rocks and into the valley below. The rocks in this area are covered with a lot of moss which tends to give the water a greenish colour. This is a trail that I just discovered this winter and I can’t wait to return in the summer when all the tree’s are in full bloom.
I hope you were able to take full advantage of this great weekend as well!

Don't forget, we also have a page on Facebook. Please visit and “LIKE” us!
Visit our page for photos as well as current information on trail conditions and events. Come join the conversation!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The McCormack Trail

Minus 14 degrees Celsius and sunny, a perfect morning for exploring. Under an impossibly blue January sky, Rosie and I headed up the trail from Governors road on the farm laneway that makes up the first section of the trail. Passing the meadows of Valley Farms, a few horses were grazing and seemed oblivious to our passing.

Within a few minutes we arrived at the pond. This is a spot that I frequently hike to in the summer as it is common to see wood ducks, mallards and the occasional blue heron here. On this day, with the pond frozen over, all was silent. This pond is particularly beautiful in the fall. The following is a photo my brother Marc Goede took there this past October. Leaving the pond, we continued north. There are a couple of trails branching off to the right that will take you through the meadow and uphill. I have hiked there many times and the view from the top is pretty neat with views clear to Cootes Paradise and the city of Hamilton. We continued down the trail, hitting a steep downhill section and reaching a tee. On this day we chose to turn left, for no other reason than my dog Rosie, on the scent of something, decided she wanted to go that way. Heading west the trail wound through a forest of maple and oak and then turned back to meadow as the trail circled back towards the direction from where we had come. This is essentially a large loop taking you back through grazing pasture towards Valley Farm.

As this trail winds through active pasture please be respectful of the gates, ensuring that they remain closed. There are frequently horses in this area so it is also important to ensure that if you bring your dog, they remain on the leash.

Connecting back to the main trail, we paused at the fence overlooking the farm and a few of the horses come over to greet us.
Picturesque and well worth hiking, this trail remains relatively unknown and always seems to be very quiet. It certainly gets my recommendation if you are looking for an easy short hike with great views.