Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dundas Falls

I'm a little hesitant for this post, since there is a big no trespassing sign at the top of Dundas Falls, and if you were to trespass it would actually be a little bit dangerous... so I'll just start this by saying I'm not endorsing climbing up around there at all. You can get a bit of a view by peeking your head in at the bottom, and you should probably not take kids here. With that out of the way, and in the effort of exploring all of the waterfalls in Hamilton, here goes.

Not only is Dundas Falls not a place to take children, but it looks like a place where sketchy teenagers go to hangout and do whatever they do. That said, it highlights something I love about Hamilton - the way that the city is built around its natural features. I love that there are so many different kinds of waterfalls, and even though this one is a little man made, its an extension of what was already going on here, and is a beautiful part of Dundas' history.

It is right next to what used to be Dundas District High School (now condos - do people actually live there?) and to get here you can drive, bike, or walk from downtown Dundas. I parked along Bond St. N, and you can also park along Woodleys Lane, especially if you are wanting to go for a longer hike. It is kind of fun seeing what is "underneath" Dundas Peak, and seeing some slightly lesser-known falls than Tews or Websters, even though they are close by.

Dundas Falls is at the top of King St. in Dundas, and is also just off of the Bruce Trail. As you are walking up to the base of the hill, you should see a river and an inlet to your right.

In this little inlet are stone walls to help against erosion of the escarpment, interesting grass species, and a little stone archway.

There is a path that takes you to the bottom of the falls, as well as the top. You can't really get a good view from the top, and also...

Peeking into the fence, you can only really see this tunnel, and getting a better view of the falls requires going down some quite steep, unguarded stairs.

From the bottom you can get a better view, although it still takes some maneuvering. Luckily the fence is falling apart, so you can get a little bit of a view.

"urban framing"

the really dangerous stairs that you should never go on.

It's still a little hard to get a good view, for these shots I mostly held my camera over the river.

my face just barely not blocking the falls...

These falls are just under the railway tracks that go through Dundas, that you can see from the top of Dundas Peak, or walk along to get to the bottom of Tew's and Webster's Falls (you can see these hikes in summer and fall). I also recently followed this even further, and it takes you to Lower Syndenham Falls and links up with other trails in the area. There are SO many trails that I'm just learning about, which is exciting! Also it helps to go off the beaten path when everyone is out trying to enjoy the beautiful fall colours (which are not featured in this post because it took me forever to put up).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Billy Monkley Cascade for Canada Day!

It's Canada Day! I've been able to be in and around Hamilton a bit more this summer, and it has been wonderful. Biking in Toronto is a rush in itself, but I just love all the trails and trees in Hamilton. I have been wanting to explore Billy Monkley cascade for a while (ever since I saw some live music by a local band, Monkley Cascade) but usually my time spent out that way is visiting Albion Falls, or the Devil's Punchbowl. This time I wanted to see a lesser known one and it was definitely worth it - my mom came along and we had such a cute picnic!

The extent of the directions I could find were "pull into the bird sanctuary and follow the sound of water" so hopefully I can be a bit more clear, because this is definitely worth checking out. In looking up directions I came across a website that said that Billy Monkley Cascade is "sure to disappoint you when you first visit," but it is a nice, quiet little place that is really beautiful and easy to get to!

The cascade is found in Billy Monkley Bird Sanctuary, which is off of Dartnall road, between Rymal and Stone Church Rd. The sanctuary is unmarked but there is a place to pull in for parking; it was closed off today, but there was still a little area off the side of the road though that can fit a few cars. Coming off of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and crossing Stone Church going toward Rymal, the bird sanctuary will be on your left. It's a wide field with different-sized birdhouses and long grass.

After pulling in to the parking lot (or just outside the lot...) there is a path that leads into the field. Follow this and you will come to a fork in the path, and take the righthand side. This walk is only about two minutes and on relatively flat terrain - it's very accessible if you want a quick break in the woods. There are little spots to sit but you can't fit many people in here. The rocks are a little slippery but it's a great place to have a picnic by or read a book, or just sit. It's very secluded from the rest of the field, a little hidden treasure.

just happy to be here.

communing with the tree.

me and my mom!

so hidden and beautiful!
While we were picknicking there, we ran into only one other couple who were exploring waterfalls in the area for the first time! It was nice to be in a secluded area that was so serene, and easy to walk to. It was also a nice little bubble away from the heat and humidity. We also got to see a lot of birds (some taking a bath in the stream - adorable!) from the bird sanctuary.

Leaving the cascade you can explore a bit further into the bird sanctuary and the path leads on somewhere, I think toward King's Forest (which is a whole confusing network itself which I have yet to conquer). I'd like to see where these go eventually but if they are part of the Red Hill Valley Trail, they should take you in some way to Albion and Felker's Falls (which you could also drive to in about seven minutes from here).

Billy Monkley cascade is definitely worth checking out for a quiet little space to relax by, and you can also get your fill of bigger waterfalls around the corner!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Webster's and Tew's Autumn Edition

This might be the best photo I've ever taken.
Last week I had the pleasure of taking some friends who were only a little bit familiar with Hamilton's waterfalls on a hike to the bottom of Tew's and Webster's falls. I've done this hike twice before, both times in the summer. Which, as it turns out, is much easier than during the fall. My poor friends were told that the hike would take around an hour, hour and a half ended up tramping through the Dundas Valley for five hours. I don't even know how it happened! It was a bit muddier, the path was harder to find in spots due to leaf coverage, and it is a lot more difficult to cross a river that is not warm and shallow! I'll also factor our lunch break in there, and the time we took enjoying the beautiful, beautiful scenery.

Honestly, it was so beautiful! I've also never experienced so much water over Webster's, and despite the chilly weather, everyone was game to go behind the falls. We crossed the river on a log, chilled on some huge mossy rocks - it was a good afternoon.

To get to the bottom of Webster's, you can follow the Bruce Trail - so if you're looking for something more accessible, and maybe not five hours, this would be it. It's relatively wide most of the way, and although you're a bit distanced from the river, it is still very scenic.

If you're driving, the best place to park is along Woodleys Lane, which is a left turn from going up King St. W in Dundas. Head under the railway bridge and follow the tracks (safely!) for one or two minutes until you see a marking on your left to a path that has a Bruce Trail left turn marking that is black for some reason. You will hear or see Spencer Creek very soon!

There is a sort-of path that runs alongside the river, but it's easier to find and follow during the summer, as it gets a bit muddier during the fall. Following the stream close by makes it easier to see where the river forks if you are planning on heading toward Tew's as well. Usually we stop at Tew's along the way, but since the river was quite high, we decided to go straight to Webster's.

These rapids occur right after the fork in the river leading to Tew's

Baby Webster's Falls - the cutest waterfall name out there!

I have been to Webster's so many times and I think I got a bit bored of it - but it was so gorgeous, and I loved showing it to new people. And there was so much water going over! I think I am used to a more dried up version...

Here it is now though! This is really the best I have seen it ever! There were rainbows everywhere and the sun was shining. So magical.

photo credit to Ginnie Wong!

We were a bit chilly and damp after going behind the falls, but it was worth it. It might be getting too cool to do that now though... make sure the sun is shining so you can dry off a bit if you go! We decided to keep an eye out for a good place to cross the river to get to Tew's, and our best course was to shuffle over a log. Which also afforded me this amazing shot...

so adventurous!
Walking on the other side of the river is a bit more challenging, since there is not as much of a trail. It's do-able and the scenery makes up for it, but it was a bit of a challenge!

The fork in the river brings you to Lower Tew's falls, where you need to cross again to get to the trail to get to the trail. There are fallen logs and much shallower here, or you can bring some rubber boots and you'll be set! 

This hike in the fall is so beautiful! And it definitely doesn't have to be as long as we took. There is a trail coming back from Tew's that is a lot easier than following the river - when the trail forks, the higher path will still bring you out by the railway tracks. We did not do this and spent a lot of time scrambling along the river and trying to find another place to cross.

Going to see one waterfall or the other is worth the trip - especially before winter comes! It makes me so sad that I miss so much hiking these days, but I loved showing friends all this beauty in Hamilton!

(If you want to see some other hikes to these falls you can check out here and here!)