Never would someone driving on Highways 5, 6 or the 403 realize that these noisy, polluted intersecting arteries are surrounded by tranquil paths, magnificent waterfalls, massive rock formations and a pioneer homestead that has survived hundreds of years. All part of the amazing Bruce Trail.
20 kilometers on maps 8 & 9 were our goal for last weekend. We were staying with my sister and brother-in-law in Paris, a lovely community on the Grand River just 45 minutes south west of where we were hiking. We were combining hiking, celebrating my sister’s birthday and hoping to catch some of the annual Springtime in Paris events.
Before we headed out my brother-in-law warned us to be careful as a young woman had been killed on the trail the previous week by a falling tree branch.
On day 1 the trail meandered through the historic section of Dundas. On Bond, King and Park Streets where old homes have been gentrified we slowed to admire magnificent gardens of peonies, iris and tulips, all in full bloom.
After a tough climb up Sydenham Road and a short stint through a subdivision where the houses have magnificent views of Hamilton and the Burlington Skyway, we entered a wooded area described as land belonging to the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Rock Chapel Nature Sanctuary. The views from the brow of the escarpment were impeded with smog and if ever there was a clear day I’m sure the views would be truly breathtaking:
After Ken’s warning of falling branches we hurried along the path past a leaning tree encircled by caution tape:
We hiked through a wooded area maintained by the Hamilton Conservation Authority and met lots of dog walkers and day hikers. This only happens when the main trail intersects short hiking trails within city limits. It’s encouraging and entertaining to come across people wearing shorts and flip flops when our gear includes long pants, long sleeve shirts, hiking boots and poles, backpacks and the funny looking forest ranger hats I’ve described in previous blogs. We often wonder what they must think of us and we wonder and worry about the young women wearing shorts and flip flops when the terrain is unstable and tall poison ivy grows along the footpath.
There were many fallen trees that had not yet been cleared by Bruce Trail volunteers:
And some that were uprooted but still standing thanks to their more sturdy neighbors:
Day 2’s hike started by crossing highway 6 via an underground tunnel. We had barely emerged when this old homestead came into view:
Some steep climbs to the lip of the escarpment and descents via wooden and concrete stairs led us into the Grindstone Creek Valley. The trail meandered along the creek bed and in some areas consisted of nothing but small, unstable rocks:
or tree roots:
It continued for over a kilometer past incredible rock formations:
The sound of a rushing waterfall was ever present as you climbed along a switchback to an open area overlooking Great Falls. Tourists and families were all enjoying the 20 degree sunshine and the myriad of trails surrounding the falls:
We ended at km 73.5 in Halton’s Waterdown Woods and hiked the last kilometer with 2 other women who are also hoping to hike the trail end to end and are off next week to London England on a hiking holiday.
All in all a beautiful, fun filled weekend.