There’s so much beauty hidden in the backyard of Toronto to be discovered and it’s really just a matter of knowing about where to look. When it comes to waterfalls, I argue that size doesn’t matter! As gargantuan as Niagara Falls is, there’s something to be said for the beauty of the more delicate and graceful variety of perpetual rushing water. If you’re an outdoorsy person and looking for an awesome day trip, oh do I have something for you!
Right off Highway 401 in the rapidly growing city of Milton, west of Toronto, is Hilton Falls. Part of Conservation Halton, there are 33.5 kilometers of colour-coded trails that loop through the wooded forest. The hiking trails are extremely well groomed and nice and wide which make it great for anyone with pets. I also appreciated the well marked signs everywhere. There’s pretty much no way to get lost because of how well the colours are placed at every intersection.
That of course all gives way to Hilton Falls which gorgeous and its own right. It’s not a very tall waterfall but nevertheless thunderous as the small river above converges down the Niagara Escarpment made cliff. What really makes this spot special is that next to it is the remains of an old mill that acts as the perfect backdrop.
While the main trails themselves are very relaxed and flat, once you went off trail to explore the waterfall, you really needed to make sure you had good gear to keep you planted. The fun part about exploring something like Hilton Falls is that for the adventurous, you can carefully make your way over a few slippery rocks and precariously unstable looking logs to get real up and close to the water. Lucky for me, I wore my trusty Liberty Ridge boots that never missed a beat. Situations like this put a big smile on my face because I’m not even afraid to dip the boots in ankle high water.
Hamilton doesn’t always have always the best reputation but what they lack in good PR is made up for in the plentiful of beautiful parks and conservation areas like Dundas Valley. Carved out of glaciers some 10,000 years ago, there’s so much to see here with it’s rich mix of plants, wildlife, geological formations, meadows, and streams. The environment is so naturally rich here that it is actually designated by UNESCO as World Biosphere Reserve
Like Hilton Falls, this conservation area is extremely well maintained with its three main trail loops that are easy to navigate and explore. Whether you’re here to walk your dog, mountain bike or just putting your legs to good use, it’s another great way to spend time away from the big city.
Once you make your way from the parking lot, there’s a great trail centre introduces the region to new visitors. From there, you’ll find a network of trails, one of which is the Heritage Trail that extends into the world famous Bruce Trail. Along the way, you’ll encounter two waterfalls – Canterbury and Sherman. They may not be the thunderous kind but they evokes a certain a tranquil serenity as the water roll down jagged edges of rock.
Heading north, there are a collection of waterfalls that are scattered all around Grey Sauble county. The perfect way to see these in one day is to make your way from Toronto and drive along Highway 10 towards Owen Sound. For these, I would say there’s not a big hiking component to each one as you’ll find yourself parking right by the entrance, followed by a 10 minute walk to the falls.
What I like about this trip is that it really gives you a chance to see quite the variety of falls. You start off with a tall one in Eugenia Falls, then make your way Hoggs Falls which is short and wide, followed by Inglis Falls which is a lovely cascading of water, and then finish off at Indian Falls which is both tall and wide. In a span of a day, you literally end up chasing waterfalls.
You’ll enjoy these waterfalls even more if you’re a photographer because you’ll get a chance to nerd out with long exposure. The nice part here is that you never have to deal with large crowds and you’ll be able to take your time setting things up. All you need is that darkening filter like an ND8, a tripod, your camera set to a really slow shutter speed, and then voila!
Waterfalls are in abundance in Ontario, you just need to know where to look. The beauty of it all is that you’re never more than 2 hours away from your next adventure.
This trip idea was brought to you by our friends at Keen. I’m sporting their new Liberty Ridge boots to power through all the elements including mud, water and rock. Where will your Keens take you next?