Here’s a guest post by Paul Shaker of Geotrail.
Discovering Steeltown’s Other Side
Name the only major Canadian city that has a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve running right through the middle of the community? Is it Vancouver with its idyllic mountain backdrop? Is it Ottawa with the venerable Gatineau Park? Or is it Montreal with the iconic Mount Royal overlooking the city? You may be surprised, but the answer is Hamilton. While many know of Hamilton’s industrial image and heritage, most Canadians are not aware of the other defining element of Steeltown: the UNESCO designated Niagara Escarpment. The “mountain” as it’s known locally, winds its way through the city separating the area into two-tiers and offers locals and visitors alike amazing views of the community. It’s also provides the basis for incredible waterfalls that are within walking distance of most Hamiltonians. Just a five-minute walk from trendy Locke Street South in the city’s South-West, you can be on the Bruce Trail, hiking up the Niagara Escarpment and looking at a waterfall or gazing upon the Dundas Valley. Interestingly, there is an historical link between the industrial heritage of the region and the Niagara Escarpment and the two intersect more than once in the history of Hamilton’s waterfalls.
Of the more than 100 waterfalls in the Hamilton area, many are easily accessible to the public and there are a few walks in particular that pack in multiple destinations for a day’s hike. Adventurers can grab a trail map or for the more tech-savvy, the local tourism agency uses the web-tool Geotrail.ca to show visitors how to get outside and enjoy some of the best waterfalls hikes in the area. With a few clicks of a mouse you can browse through a list of hikes, check out the waterfalls, and take your map with you on a smartphone or tablet.
Ancaster Village Waterfall Walk
One great adventure is on the south facing part of the Niagara Escarpment. Starting at Tiffany Falls Conservation Area, the first stop is the immediate namesake of area, Tiffany Falls. The trek to the falls is winding path up a ravine, over bridges until you eventually reach the falls which presents itself like a hidden geological treasure found in an Indiana Jones movie. There is a viewing deck for the falls and if you venture there in the winter, you might catch a group of ice climbers working their way to the top.
Further west, you find an equally enchanting site, Sherman Falls, named after the Sherman family, former landowner and 1912 founder of the Dominion Foundry and Steel Company (DOFASCO). Sherman Falls is a 17 metre high ribbon waterfall that is visible year round. At this point you can head back, or loop around to the Ancaster Old Mill Inn and take a break and have refreshment while enjoying the Mill Falls and Lower Mill Falls. In total, you are looking at about a 2 hour outing.
This hike offers just a glimpse of the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment in the Hamilton region. To see more hikes, check out this.
Paul Shaker is co-founder of Geotrail, a social enterprise that promotes hiking and outdoor education. For more information contact Geotrail.ca.