Tag Archives: Bruce Trail

From Kelso to Limehouse: End-to-End with the Bruce Trail Toronto Club (Day 2)

After Day 1, the hikers in the group had warmed up to one another and started in a cheerful mood. After all, we only had less than 22 Km ahead of us. We were bused from Limehouse to the start point at Kelso  where the Toronto Club section connected with the Iroquoia Club section. A short walk on flat ground soon turned into a climb up the Niagara Escarpment. It was still early morning hour, but we were blessed with the view of sunrise to a beautiful morning as we tread carefully uphill.

When we reached the top of the Escarpment, the landscape changed to rocky formations.

The route was varied. We passed forest areas, rocky crevices, a resting area, open roads, as well as farm trails, corn fields and orchards.

The 22-km hike turned out to be challenging as we negotiated down a narrow rocky cliff.This was the so-called “Hole in the Wall”.  What a test of balance and strength!

By now, we were tired and was only too happy to come the landmark of an old, abandoned lime kiln.

We reached the finish point at Limehouse, where we completed our hike the day before but coming from a different direction. This badge will add to the collection and probably sewn onto a backpack.

Reference:The Bruce Trail Reference Maps and Trails Guides. Maps 11 and 12.

From Caledon Hills to Limehouse: End-to-End with the Bruce Trail Toronto Club (Day 1)

1-IMG_1853The Bruce Trail Conservancy’s Toronto Club End-to-End expected hikers to complete about 50 Km over two consecutive days. (There was a one-day option, but I decided to forego this ultra distance which would take me 10 hours of walking and took it easy instead.) My group met at Limehouse in Halton Hills. This small community of about 500 people were still asleep when we arrived. There were over ninety participants in this event and we were taken by bus to the start point which divided the Toronto Club section from the Caledon Club section.

The first lag was the paved asphalt surface of Credit View Road and then Boston Hill Road. We were flanked on both sides by farmland. We passed a cornfield and an orchard.  We walked over a kilometre before entering into the trail.

The footing and the trail surface changed as soon as we were in the woodland.

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It was more shaded, but it also meant more obstacles. Some trees that had fallen across the trail were there for us to walk over or duck under. I negotiated three such tree trunks within a short distance. I felt like a horse jumping over hurdles in a steeple chase.

This section soon ended and we were back on the road of Heritage Road, which led into the Caledon Trailway.

The Trailway had an old rail buried under it. It reminded me of the Rail Trail in Hamilton that I frequented. As another hiker remarked, “Once you’ve seen a rail trail, you’ve seen them all.”

After exiting the Trailway, we entered some private property by climbing over a stile, and out again, but not before we saw many apples by the roadside. They were likely from apples trees of an abandoned orchard in an area close to the Terra Cotta Conservation Area.

The forest is a mixture of deciduous and evergreen tree. This is  the military formation of tree planting.

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We had walked over 10Km and was glad to reach the first check point near Vaughan Road for some snacks. Leaving the Terra Cotta Conservation Area, we entered the Silver Creek Conservation Area for a totally different challenge and scenery.

This was also a very rocky section on high elevation.

I suddenly realized that I had been here before, when I came to this narrow rocky section. I was here in early spring here when it was still covered in ice and snow on what I called a treacherous hike.

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We were hiking by Silver Creek and the sound of the running water accompanied us for some distance. This was a well-maintained section by the volunteers of the Bruce Trail. We came across many bridges like this one.

One more rocky patch and the second checkpoint was in sight.

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This also meant out of the woods into more urban area of the trail. The remaining hike went through the grounds of Scotdale Farm, road ways and finally the Limestone parking lot was in sight.

Day 1 was now completed and we had accomplished 28 Km. The weather was most co-operative. What we needed was a relaxing bath and a good night sleep to recover for the following day.

Reference: The hike followed Maps 13 and 14 of the Bruch Trail Maps and Trail Guide Edition 27.

Hiking in Hockley Valley

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The Bruce Trail in Ontario is divided into nine sections, each of which is maintained by volunteers from the local areas. I often hike in the Iroquia and Niagara regions, which are the two southernmost sections of the Trail. For a change, my hike today is at Hockley Valley of the Caledon Section.

We enter the trail by walking up an incline, and there is a sign indicating that this trail has a friendship counterpart in Korea.

The Hockley Valley is known as a popular resort–golfing in summer and skiing in winter. From the trail, we can see the ski runs looking green but deserted at this time of the year.

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It is a hot day, but the trail is shaded. It seems to be so as we move further into the forest away from the farms. But first, we say hello and goodbye to the cattle fenced behind the trees.

I notice that the trees are a mix of deciduous and pine. The predominance of pine means that we are north of the Carolinian forest that I often see hiking further south of the province.

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We enter Tom East Side Trail. There is a narrow water way along the trail, but it does not look like a natural stream. Our experienced hike leader explains that this is a ditch dug single- handedly by the wife Tom East, Isabel, when she was in her seventies. Both husband and wife were avid hikers and contributed much to the Bruce Trail. The ditch is meant to drain water away from the higher grounds to avoid flooding. There is also a side trail named after Isabel, except that we are not hiking there this time.

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Our route takes us to Glen Cross Side Trail and Snell Side Trail, and we hike on the Main Trail (Bruce Trail) in between. We cross several streams, and we seldom walk over as many bridges or board walk as this morning.

We come to an open field. The ski hills are now in a distant in a different direction.

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Fortunately we do not have to walk too long in the sun and we are back into the forest again. Tall trees and running water again.
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You may wonder if we take any breaks. Indeed we do for a hike of 13 to 14 Km like this morning. Besides a half hour lunch break, we take water breaks after walking up a hill, and quite often when we pause to examine unusual flora.

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This is the Indian Pipe, a native plant.

This is even more unusual. Nobody knows how it gets here in the first place.

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The grand finale is a panoramic view of the Valley and we can see the Hockley Valley Resort Hotel in the heart of the valley. We also notice a hint of red among the green leaves. We are counting our summer hikes before we begin to hike for the Fall colours.

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(My dear readers, I am away from home in Ottawa at the moment, and work has kept me too busy from blogging. I am glad I find the draft of this post, and surely I must publish this, because the colours of the trees are changing fast. Thank you for dropping by!)

Walking in the Footsteps of Laura Secord: A Bicentennial Hike

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I usually think of chocolates when I think of Laura Secord. However, the Laura Secord hike organized by the Niagara Club of the Bruce Trail takes us back into Canadian history. The British and the Americans were fighting in the War of 1812. Laura Secord, neé Ingorsoll, was born in Massachusetts, U.S.A.  She moved with her Loyalist family (Americans who supported the British during the American Revolutionary War) to Upper Canada (now Ontario). She married James Secord and lived in the small village of Queenston in the Niagara Region.

One day in June 1913, Laura Secord overheard some American soldiers who came to her house talking about the plan of a surprise attack on the British soldiers in Beaver Dams. She set foot on a 32 Km (20 miles) journey, arriving at De Cew House on June 22, 1813 to warn Lieutenant Fitzgibbon about the American ploy.  Two days later, the British defeated the American at the Battle of Beaver Dams.

To commemorate Laura Secord’s walk, the Niagara Club of the Bruce Trail Conservancy organizes a Laura Secord hike every year. This year is the Bicentennial Hike.

My husband and I arrived at the meeting place–car park of the Niagara Region office–at 5:45 a.m. to board a bus which took us to Laura Secord’s Homestead in Queenston to start the hike. The town was asleep, but the sun was up, and the town was adorned with flags to mark the bicentennial occasion. Around the corner of the Homestead, General Brock Column came into view. We began our climb up the stairs beside the printing museum. It was a couple of kilometres of hills to reach the Queenston Park, where there was also monument to remember Laura Secord.

The Bruce Trail Main Trail began here. Our journey was to follow the white blazers of the Main Trail until we get to De Cew House in St. Catharines.

There were so much to see on this hike. The terrains were variable, hence providing interesting challenges. The part I liked the least were the muddy downhills. Otherwise, I enjoyed the occasional leap over a water puddle or a stream, and an incline when my hiking stick became an asset. We came to a hill where everybody had to climb down carefully, due to the muddy slipperiness. It was a relief to overcome this steep slope!

We continued by climbing over a stile to enter a private property, came out to walk on city roads, and walked over a bridge which crossed the highway. We hiked on narrow country paths, past a swamp,  on the edge of people’s backyard and through the vineyards of Niagara.

We looked out for historical features along our route. Besides Laura Secord’s homestead, 1-IMG_1413 General Brock Column and the Mackenzie Printery and Newspaper Museum in Queenston, we walked through the Screaming Tunnel, which according to legend, a young girl died here and if you strike a match inside the tunnel, you’ll hear her screaming. The tunnel was dark and wet. There was such a eerie feel to it that we just hurried on.  For a few kilometres, we were walking along the banks of the Welland Canal. Only Canal #3 was in operation and to my delight, I came across a lift bridge, which had played a very important role in the industrial development of southern Ontario.

Our last lag was to hike around the campus of Brock University. When finally we saw the grounds of De Cew House of which only the relics of the foundation remained, we picked up our pace to cross the river, and were received by Laura Secord and her friend.

It was a long hike and it took us over six hours to complete the 32 Kilometres. The Niagara Bruce Trail Club provided the hikers with a wholesome lunch at De Cew House, and very hospitable reception on all the four check points. The greatest reward at the end of the day was the badge of the Laura Secord Bicentennial Hike to sew on my backpack.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: SPRING (River and Ruin Hike)

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Everything I saw on my hike on the River and Ruin Trail in the Lowville Park area in Halton Region, Ontario was a representation of Spring. I am therefore integrating this as my submission to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: SPRING. The moment we set out on our hike from the carpark, Spring was tangible. Photography could only capture what one could see. The green of the grass and the leaves is a Spring green, which looked so promising after the rain from the night before.  I could hear Spring from the birds’ singing and chirping, and the rustling of the wind, I could feel Spring from the cool, refreshing breeze, and I could smell Spring in the air. The flowering trees were starting to bloom and the open fields were covered with dandelions, bright yellow contrasting with bright new green.

P 1-IMG_1287 Other vegetation, from the fern to the May apple (with its bud hiding underneath the leaves), the trilliums to the marsh daisies are out. I saw the Bracket Fungi for the first time.

We also spotted the Garlic Mustard, an unwanted foreign specie because they would edge out the other plants.

We took the River and Ruin Side Trail, crossed a bridge to join the Bruce Trail Main Trail. We hiked to Kilbride, took a lunch break and hiked back, using a different arm of the side trail to see the ruin. The water level was high and we had Bronte Creek to our right for half of the hike. The ruin appeared as a surprise among the trees. It was the relics was a big farmhouse.

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We had to use our imagination to think back two hundred years ago when this part was farmland and the residents were using out hiking trail to go to their general store in Lowville. What kind of bridge did they have back then?

Surprises On A Spring Hike: Silver Creek Conservation Area

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Our hike today was in the Silver Creek Conservation Area. None of us going on the hike had expected that there was a snow bank by Fallbrook Trail, where we parked our cars.

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Our experienced hike leader immediately checked to see if anyone of us had our icers/tracks with us. Well, none of us did, except him. He put his on and he had a spare pair that he offered to our “sweep”, the person who stayed at the back to make sure nobody got lost.

We began our hike by walking less than 200 metres of the Irwin Quarry Side Trail, which joined the Main Trail of the Bruce Trail and we started our climb of the Niagara Escarpment. No sooner had we entered the wood than we realized that surprises were waiting for us. The trail was in parts still covered with snow and shiny icy patches were visible. We landed our feet as carefully as possible, but the slipperiness could not be easily ignored.

As we continued, we tried to develop strategies to avoid slipping. One hiker suggested walking on the crystalline snow, which crumbled under our feet; at least the footing was better than ice. However, there were sections where we had no choice. All we could do was to slow down, use our hiking pole to anchor before landing. At times, we latched onto tress and swung our bodies forward. There was one narrow strip which was covered by ice and in the absence of an alternative path,  the only way to get pass was to hang on to the rocks, aimed for a tree ahead and grabbed it to come to a stop. It was treacherous!

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However, I was excited that I was hiking in an area that I had never hiked before. The rushing of the Silver Creek could be heard for a good distance even though it was not in sight. Then it appeared, with snow banks in parts, and we crossed this creek, which was a feeder stream into the Credit River a couple of times.

The hike took longer than anticipated, because we had to slow down frequently. It was incredible that within a short span of time, we were treading on ice, snow, water, mud and dry grounds.

The hike took us on part of the Bruce Trail Main Trail, the Great Esker (side) Trail and the Bennett Heritage (side) Trail. We passed en route Scotdale Farm and crossed also the Snow Creek. This section of the Bruce Trail was under the stewardship of the Toronto Club.

Two hikers fell, but fortunately nobody was injured. The experience was unique, and we were all relieved to be eventually out of the woods.

Map Reference: Bruce Trial Reference Map and Trail Guide Edition 27, p. 13.

The Interconnecting Trails in Dundas Valley

The first thing I noticed when I set foot on McCormack Trail in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area this morning was the snow from overnight on the fallen trees trunks. It was a good reminder that before too long, we would be hiking with our snow tracks. The McCormack Trail was a gentle trail which went through open fields and it had an incline at the top of which, we could enjoy the panoramic view of Hamilton.

Flanking the roadside and meadows were goldenrods which had turned silvery white.

After doing a loop on the McCormack Trail, we took up part of the Main Loop of the Bruce Trail, and hiked on the John White Trails, joined the Sawmill Trail before ending our hike from Spring Creek Trail after hiking for 14 Km.

The fun of hiking in Dundas Valley was that the trails with mostly interconnected and under the guidance of an experienced hike leader, we could customized our distances. Today we returned to the Trail Centre of the conservation area from the back, just a different view from the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail. 

A Hike to Hilton Fall

This was my first hike since my long End to End hikes four weeks ago. I was admiring Fall colours  on my hikes back then, and now, the trees were all bare as they displayed a sense of ethereal beauty on this foggy morning.

My hiking group set off from the Hilton Fall Conservation Centre and our goal was to explore some of the overlapping trail loops in the conservation area before reaching the Hilton Fall. (For any visitor who just wishes to visit the Fall, there is a trail of about 1 Km in distance that leads directly to it.) For us, we first entered the Philip Gosling Side Trail and after a short walk, I was attracted by the moss-covered rocks which jutted from the brown fallen leaves. Middle Earth, anyone?

We joined a short section of the Bruce Trail Main Trail and turned into Red Oak Trail, which also was a Bruce Trail side trail. This was probably the most beautiful and challenging section of the hike. It rose above the Hilton Fall Reservoir, that we caught a glimpse of it occasionally from among the trees. All around us was moss-covered landscape. There were caves and cliffs and rocks, but photography was impossible, because with this terrain, it was easier to keep going than to attempt to balance and focus into a camera. In fact, I possessed neither the balance nor the photographic skills to even attempt.

Next we joined the Hilton Fall Trail, towards the direction of Beaver Dam Trail on the right of the fork; the left trail should lead directly to HIlton Fall.

The ground cover on the trail was a mottled brown and silvery grey.

One of the hikers who knew about forestry explained to us that the trees were planted in “military formation”, as they were straight and orderly.

We crossed the Beaver Dam, from which the trail was named, but there was a dam no more, because what used to be a beaver dam had blocked the flow of the water. Instead, we walked over a structure which served the purpose of a bridge and at the same time should prevent beavers from building a dam here.

The stream here is one of the feeders of the Sixteen Mile Creek.

We took a rocky side trail following the Bruce Trail blue blazers and arrived at the picnic area of Hilton Fall!

As a result of the persistent rain the previous month, water was rushing down the cliff edge of the Fall.

I was finally able to take a picture of the Hilton Fall in clear weather.

Just beside the Fall was was remains of a sawmill which dated back to the 19th century.

Besides heritage remains, another landmark revealing the history of the area was the pothole formed by the glacial swirl millions years ago.

We broke for lunch and then made our descent back to the conservation center.

I paid attention for the first time to the tamarack (larch). I always learned something when I hiked with this group of experienced hikers. In spite of its coniferous shape and needle-like leaves, the tamarack is a deciduous tree which shed their leaves in autumn. Its wood is used by the Algonquian natives to make snow shoes. Its golden glow transported me to a sense of satisfaction and peace as we concluded this hike.

From Grimsby to Dundas: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 4)

This was the fourth and final day of the hike. We woke up with a mixed feeling of excitement and wariness.We had come a long way and we should be completing our first End to End hike of the Bruce Trail. At the same time, we did not want a repeat of yesterday’s soaking wet hike. To our relief, it was not raining when we drove to Mountain Brow Blvd. in Hamilton, near the arena to park our cars.

Day 4

The bus took us  to Grimsby to enter the starting point of Bruce Trail that was managed by the Iroquoia club. It was relatively dark still. We heard the leaves shuffling under our feet and the sound of the water rushing down Forty Mile Creek as we climbed up Grimsby Mountain. It was quite an incline, but once we were on top, and dawn had broken through, the hike became more relaxing. The first check point at Fifty Road emerged after an uneventful 9 Km hike.

We heard occasionally the sound of traffic and trains passing, which suggested that we were close to the rail track and the main road. The narrow trail surface was very muddy,  and often slippery. It started to rain too, although not as relentlessly as the day before.  It demanded full concentration on where we landed our feet with each step.

The check point at New Mountain Road was right beside the rail track. We quickly devoured our sandwiches with their water and hot cider. We only had one-third of the day’s journey to go–move on!

As if nature (or the hike planners) wanted to reward us for our effort, a waterfall came in sight. We did not have any sign to tell us what its name was.

When we went further downstream and captured a better view of the landscape, this was very well the Devil’s Punch Bowl, another punch bowl waterfall like the Borer’s Fall we saw on Day 3.  I was hiking near here in the summer but it was dry then.

Since this section of the trail was very popular with visitors who would come only to look at the falls, the surface was paved, and there were railings keeping people away from the precipice. Felkers Falls came into view next.

We made another turn to go around the gorge.

This creek further down probably fed into the Red Hill Creek,

which we crossed over a big metal bridge. These were the views upstream and downstream. The water level was high with all the rain in the past week.

We turned into the Red Hill Creek Side Trail uphill (left side of photo above). We came down here on Day 3 and hiked towards Dundas in the opposite direction on the Main Trail. Now we were finally out of the woods on Mountain Brow Boulevard. We climbed over the guard rails to cross the road to report to the finish check- point. We forgot that we were soaked through and proudly received our hard-earned badge that was awarded for the completion of the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club End to End—a four-day hike of almost 130 Km.

Reference:  The Bruce Trail REference Maps and Trail Guide Edition 27 (2012). Maps 5, 6 and 7.

From Hamilton to Dundas: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 3)

We had five days to rest after Day 2. Came Saturday the following week, we were up again to meet outside Dundas Golf Club at 6:30 a.m. for Day 3. It had been raining the past few days, and it was still raining when we headed out. We had to wear our ponchos, which despite keeping us somewhat drier, also made climbing uphill more dangerous.

We had done almost 70 Km so far walking from north to south on the Bruce Trail. The organizers planned it such that the hike was in a south to north direction this weekend.

Day 3

The bus took us to Mountain Brow Blvd. on Hamilton Mountain. We entered the trail by the Red Hill Creek Side Trail (following blue blazers) and joined the Main Bruce Trail (following white blazers) at the bottom of the hill. The hike today was to walk across Hamilton Mountain, enter Dundas Valley Conservation Area to return to the golf club. We were hiking on the same elevation in the beginning, but because of the rain, footing was slippery, and we had to be extremely careful not to  step on the moss.

We hiked through King’s Forest and soon found ourselves on the Escarpment Rail Trail. The rail line was below us and Sherman Access, a thoroughfare, was above us. We heard the sound of trains and traffic, and this was a different experience from just hearing the sound of wind and rain splashing in the forest. On a day like this, I much preferred the feeling that I was close to civilization. The first check-point was at Beckett Drive.

The next lag was on the Chedoke Radial Trail and the paved surface was a reprieve in the rainy weather. Soon after passing the car park of the Chedoke Golf Course, we saw water rushing down from the mountain above. The rain had brought the waterways and waterfalls to life. However, it had also caused flooding. There was an area where we had to wade through a rushing torrent and our shoes and socks were all soaked. Fortunately, we had hiked on this section of the trail before, and the knowledge that after crossing the bridge over Hwy 403 we should be arriving at the second check point at Filman Road motivated us on.

The next section of the trail should also the most scenic. First we passed Tiffany Fall and its bridge.

Then there was Sherman Fall and we had entered the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.

Canterbury Falls soon appeared.

Then we crossed the Sulphur Creek.

Had it been a sunnier day, the Dundas Conservation Area would have been ideal for photography. Meanwhile, we focused on our hike and what a wonderful feeling it was to arrive at the third check-point at the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, where bagels with cream cheese were waiting for us.

We had less than 5 Km to go, and we knew that the end would soon be in sight when we were hiking along the perimeter of the Dundas Golf Club.

We were very wet and soaked at the end of the hike. It was a relief nevertheless that we had completed almost 30 Km on this third day. The feeling was more of anticipation than fatigue, because we only had one more day to go. We must rest well this night.

Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference Maps and Trail Guide, Edition 27 (2010). Maps 7 and 8.

From Burlington to Dundas: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 2)

After Day 1 and the Epsom salt bath when we got home, there was little time for recovery, because Day 2 followed immediately the next day, Sunday.

Day 2

The meeting place was at the entrance of Dundas Golf Club at 6:30 a.m. and the bus took us to where we finished the hike the day before on Guelph Line and No.1 Side Road in Burlington to begin the hike. No sooner had we entered the trail, we had to climb over a stile which demarcated private property line, and because the Bruce Trail was passing private property  the Bruce Trail Conservancy had an agreement with the owners for hikers to walk on their land. In fact, we climbed over several stiles on this day’s walk.

The sky was clear and the sun has come out.

It was a pleasant hike through open fields and farmland and we were hiking south-west passing Kerncliff Park and City View Park Side Trail (one of the newest Bruce Trail side trails). We reported to the first check-point on King Road and we continued on through Waterdown Woods. It was mid-morning and what a glorious day! The most spectacular sight came into view at the Great Falls of Smokey Hollow.

However, we had to slow down, partly to enjoy the scenery, but more so, to avoid colliding with the numerous photographers who had set up their tripods to capture the beauty of the falls. There was only a very narrow footpath to get by. We were essentially squeezing by with a  hanging cliff on our left and a ravine on our right. One faulty step and one could fall off the ravine.

The trails eased off along the banks of Grindstone Creek.

When we came out of Clappison Wood, there was a tunnel to cross under Hwy 6 to avoid the heavy traffic, and we arrived at the second check-point. Time for a quick lunch which went down well with hot apple cider, and up the hill we climbed again. We entered the grounds managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens.

A creek flew serenely on the lower grounds and on the higher grounds, the lookout onto the city was equally peaceful.

I was excited to see Borer’s Fall, one of the “punchbowl falls” on the Bruce Trail. The name “punchbowl” came from its semi-circular shape, which was formed by the erosive turbulence of the whirlpool of melting ice when it came downstream many years ago.

From the escarpment here, we looked out to the city near the horizon.

The Bruce Trail continued on Sydenham Road and we were walking on paved road again, down the city streets of Dundas, into its residential area and uphill to King’s Street West to our cars outside the golf club.

It was a day blessed with nice weather, breath-taking scenery, and great comradeship walking with other hikers. We looked forward to resting our feet in the next five days before Day 3. We did almost 70 Km so far in two days.

Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference Mpas and Trail Guide Edition 27 (2012). Maps 8 and 9.

From Kelso to Burlington: End to End with the Bruce Trail Iroquoia Club (Day 1)

The Bruce Trail (Ontario) runs a total of 885 Km along the Niagara Escarpment from Queenston in the south to Tobermory in the north. It is divided into nine sections, each managed by a local Bruce Trail club. The Iroquoia Club takes care of the section of the trail that runs between Grimsby and Kelso, and it is my home club. Every year at late Fall, the Iroquoia Club organizes an End to End hike which spans four days over two consecutive weekends. The total distance is about 130 Km. A badge is awarded at the end of the four-day hike. My husband and I were first-time participants in this year’s event.

Day 1

The first day started at 7 a.m. and we parked our cars on the shoulder of Guelph Line, Burlington, just north of Hwy 5. It was still dark. The morning air was cold. However it could not chill the excitement of the hikers who were in full gear for a one-day hike of about 40 Km. We were taken by two school buses and were dropped off at the northern-most point of the trail in Kelso near Hwy 401 for the start.

The organizers had planned out check-points en route. This was to make sure that everybody who signed up reported there and to get some refreshments,or other assistance. The volunteers who came out brought juices, water and hot cider, as well as cookies, muffins, granola bars and cheeses.

Dawn had just broken as we set foot on the Bruce Trail in the Kelso Conservation Area. We hiked through the Glen Eden ski area and got to the top. Here the ski lifts looked forlorn while they waited for their time to wake up with the winter skiers.

The trail was covered by fallen leaves. It had rained the night before, and we had to watch our steps, because there were often slippery rocks under the wet leaves.

Even so, we took time to take in the view of the Carolinian Forest at this time of Fall.

After the first check-point at Appleby Line and Steele Avenue, the trail entered the Crawford Lake/Rattle Point Conservation Areas. This was a very rocky section which involved climbing up rocks faces and this brought us to the Nassagaweya Canyon. The view was spectacular once on top of the gorge.

Although the elevation flattened out slightly, the trail was rugged and footing was poor, and then there was a rocky downhill, reaching the second check-point at Twiss Road.

We crossed  a couple of creeks, up and down hill again, before reaching the third check-point at Blind Line and Britannia Road. The feeling that we were over half the day’s designated distance was very encouraging.

Mixed in with the rugged trail were a few paved road surfaces which also formed part of the Bruce Trail. Given the long distance of the day, it was nice walking on flatter surfaces but extra care was necessary because there was passing traffic. The flat stretch of Collin Road led us to the entrance of Mount Nemo Conservation Area. My heart leapt, because the city of Burlington was in sight. The Brock Harris Lookout provided a panoramic view of the city.

A steep climb down from Mount Nemo took us to the fourth and final check-point at No. 2 Side Road and Walkers Line. We felt re-energized after drinking the hot cider served by the volunteers. There was a long stretch of paved road along Walkers Line, and turning into No.1 Side Road, but we still had to follow the white blazers (for the Main Trail) of the Bruce Trail. It started to rain, and we picked up our pace. We turned into the unpaved trail again and soon emerged into an open field. We followed the path which took us to where we parked our car in the morning on Guelph Line. We checked off our names and enjoyed the cheeses and the drinks before heading home for the day.

Our legs were tired, but we were very happy that the longest lag of the four-day hike was done. Day 2 would be a shorter day.

Reference: The Bruce Trail Reference: Maps and Trail Guide, Edition 27, (2012).  Maps 9, 10 and 11.

Into The Woods (Dundas Valley Conservation Area)

My one-day record on my recent walk in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area: Five sightings of deer, with a total number of 18! I was ecstatic because I could capture this family of six on my smart phone before the sound of the click sent them dashing away.

The weather was more pleasant for walking these day. There was a coolness in the air while the sun was shining for my morning walks. My group walk this particular day started off from Sanctuary Park , Dundas, ON and we soon found ourselves meandering along the trails of Dundas Valley. We were deep into the woods and twice, we had to lower our heads in order to follow the trail even though a tree had fallen across it.

We were rewarded with nature’s blessings: the streams, the rapids, the trees and wildlife.

We were equipped for the rocky climb and for the change of underfoot from stones, to roots and to softer padding.

The vegetation changed suddenly  from the Carolinian deciduous which is typical of this area to a rare stretch of pine. They were neatly planted in row, which was also a nice reminder of man’s contribution to preserve nature.

When we walked in silence and mindful of the stillness surrounding us, a rabbit, a chimpmunk and sometimes a squirrel crossed our path. Looking up the forest hill and down into the dale, there were the deer sightings of course.

I not only became aware of what nature was offering us in the present, but I was struck by what it had left for us from the past in the form of rock formations and remains of ancient tress.

Halfway up the Monarch Trail, we reached an open air auditorium with seats and an altar.

 I remembered coming across a bridal party jogging along the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail on one of my walks. The bride was wearing a lace tennis frock , and her bridesmaids also in white tennis attire. They passed me and left me wondering where they were heading for. I think I had got my answer when I saw that altar. One question remained unanswered though: How are the relatives and guests going to get there?

The Dundas Valley Conservation Area has over 40 interconnected trails. Just on this hike, we walked parts of the Spring Creek Trail, the Sawmill Trail, a considerable section of the Bruce Trail Main Loop and the Monarch Trail, which took us back to the Rail Trail and to where we started at Sanctuary Park.

 

The Amazing Trail “Loop”

The subtitle of this post is “The Interconnections of Hamilton’s Trails “. I walked about 13K with my group this recent weekend, and we went through the most varied of terrain and scenery, and above all, we remained relatively close to the city without feeling its presence; well, for the most part.

The last time I walked on the Chedoke Radial Trail, I turned towards Hillcrest Avenue. This time I walked on the escarpment towards Scenic Dirve.

This section of the trail passed through a wooded section, which then opened up to the view of the city of Hamilton. On the other side, the trail offered the rugged rock face of the escarpment.

We walked on the new Bailey Bridge at Chekode Fall, now  longer, wider and stronger to withstand the eroding of the escarpment and the instability of the water course it crossed. This bridge was opened in January, 2012.

The Chedoke Radial Trail also belonged to the main Bruce Trail. We had a choice of staying on the main trail all the way to the Scenic Drive Side Trail or take the Iroquoia Height Side Trail to get to the same point. We continued on the main trail and crossed another bridge over Hwy 403.

This probably was the least attractive part of the trail which paralleled the highway alongside its noise barrier.

The main Bruce Trail then led to the Filman Side Trail, which offered a more hllly and rugged terrain until it came out onto Wilson Street.

We walked along Wilson Street (which joined Main Street) and took a flight of stairs to the the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail.

From here, we headed towards Hamilton using the Ewen Road entrance.  We continued on the new extension of the Rail Trail. This was a 2.25 K  paved trail which passed the rail yard and ending at the residential area bordering the Chekdoke Golf Course. It was opened in 2011 and formed part of the Canadian Pacific Link.

We rejoined the road where we walked uphill to the golf course earlier and headed back to Westdale, our usual starting point. When I downloaded my walking data from my Garmin, I realized that we had completed an amazing loop by connecting several trails that ran through the city!

Climbing a Stile in Style

What is a stile?

This was the stile I climbed over on my hike on the Bruce Trail this week. A stile is a ladder-like structure which gives access to the Bruce Trail when it crosses the property line of private property. On this day, I climbed over five stiles.

On this walk, we started from the entrance to the trail on #1 Side Road, east of Guelph Line in Burlington (Ontario) and hiked over 8K to Kerncliff Park. We stayed on the main trail for the most part, walking south and west towards Cedar Spring Road, but also included the Ian Reid Side Trail.

The hike was listed as “moderate” in the trail guide. This meant uneven surfaces with roots and stones. We were on rolling hills. There were a couple of times when we stepped or leaped over rocks. Challenging, but fun! My more experienced hiking friends said that for this section of the Bruce Trail, one could bring a walking stick.

This hike took me to the Fisher’s Pond. It looked dreamy to me this morning.

We walked past a big field, and would somebody tell me whether this was wheat, barley or oats?

We walked very close to some residential property, with its vegetable garden.

Its overlooked a majestic-looking tree.

What did I learn on this hike?

#1 When I am with experienced hikers, I can follow their example and try these wild raspberries. They are fresh and sweet.

#2  The tree on the right is call shag dog hickory.  The bark seems to be peeling off the trunk; hence the name. The bark is hard and sharp, and so do not lean on the tree.