Searching For Waterfall Heaven

If you like waterfalls, then the wide variety of trails near and around the city of Hamilton, southwest of Toronto, is the place to go.

There are reported to be 100 waterfalls – both big and small – in the Hamilton area thanks to the Niagara Escarpment which is the backbone of the 900 km Bruce Trail.  Of course, a mere 70+ kilometres away is Niagara Falls, but that’s a different story.

I am attracted to waterfalls like bears to honey, so Hamilton was where Helen and I decided to take our next hiking trip.   Although we had passed through this area 5 years ago on the main portion of the Bruce Trail, I had identified a handful of waterfalls, located on side trails, which we had never seen.

One in particular – the spectacular Albion Falls – was our primary destination.

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Albion Falls stands about 19 metres high (or 62 feet) and is classified as a cascade waterfall, which means the water descends in a series of rock steps.

I had seen pictures of Albion Falls taken during the summer with people walking out on the rock ledges, and I relished the thought of standing at the base of such a large waterfall to take photos.

Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

We found the entire area around the falls and the deep gorge it drops into, surrounded by tall fencing and warning signs of fines up to $10,000 for trespassing beyond the fences.

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This is the top of the falls as seen from the road.  It looks deceptively safe.  The fencing along the left side tells a different story.

It was then that I remembered.

Last summer, several people needed to be rescued from the falls when heavy rains suddenly and dramatically changed the power of the falls.  Apparently there are gauges on the falls to monitor the water volume descending in the cascade.  On that particular summer afternoon, the volume increased from 1 cubic metre per second, to 30 cubic metres.  It’s probably a miracle no one was killed.

The previous year, one man wasn’t so lucky.  He was killed when he slipped on the rocks and fell.  In a separate incident, another man was very seriously injured.

So now there are fences and signs.

If I was honest with myself, I’d have to acknowledge that I’m one of those people the fences and signs are required to protect. There is no question that if I had found a way down, I would have attempted it.

Instead, we had to satisfy ourselves with walking the trail around the top of the gorge.

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A mere few feet to the right, the gorge drops off dramatically.

I didn’t get the “Kodak Moment” I was looking for, but I still give this waterfall top marks.

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Some kind person thought it was a good idea to provide a cutout in the fencing, at eye level, to make it easier to take photos.  Thank you – it was much appreciated!

34 comments

  1. Oh, it’s beautiful! That fence is there for me too. I was thinking I’d like to try my first shot from down there! Thinking the next image in your series would be from there or somewhere close to it. 🙂

    Maybe the next waterfall you’ll be able to get closer to. That cut out in the fence is brilliant! I can almost hear the water spilling over the top.

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    • Yay! Another waterfall chaser!! There were well-worn paths and even a set of stairs leading down to the base of the falls … unfortunately behind the fence.
      All I wanted was to get to the base to take some photos shooting upwards. Even I’m not reckless enough to attempt climbing the rocky ledges!

      There was another waterfall – our 4th for the day – where I was actually able to hike up to it for some great shots. A post for another day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to explore more around the Hamilton area – I have a long list of things I would like to check out – but the traffic to get there from the east end of Toronto is really a deterrent. That’s why I do it so rarely.

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  2. I’m really glad you heeded the signs so you could come tell us all about Albion Falls, Joanne! What a special place it is and to be honest there are far uglier places to leave this world. But please, next time I see or read about a female Canadian trapped at a waterfall it better NOT be you!

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  3. Ha! I love that you and I think alike–“Surely these signs don’t pertain to me!” This is some beautiful waterfall, Joanne. Thank goodness someone cut a hole in the fence..perfect shot.

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  4. Lovely waterfall. I would have been disappointed with the fences too, but, unfortunately, some people must be protected from themselves… especially in this age of selfies. I love that someone made a hole in the fence for taking pictures.

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    • This was not just some random hole either. It was really well done which makes me think it may have been done by the people who put up the fencing.

      I admit that I do see the logic with the signs and perhaps the fencing. People will assume it is safe since there aren’t any signs to the contrary – ie sudden and dramatic changes in the volume of water coming over the falls.
      In terms of the potential for slipping on wet, slimey rocks – well that SHOULD BE common sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! You wrote both “common” and “sense” in the same sentence! If somebody didn’t have to risk their life to try and save a person too stupid to stay safe, then I’d be all for just putting up signs (maybe with a warning that they were on their own if they slip and fall). Darwin’s Theory in action (wait, was that mean?).

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        • I don’t know about the mean part, but Darwin’s Law is pretty unforgiving, that’s for sure.

          We watched incredulous as 3 or 4 people picked their way upstream along the rocky stream to the waterfall – in spite of the fence. I haven’t a clue where or how they managed to get down there – with a dog.

          IF I was going to attempt something like this, I would at least have hiking poles with me to help stabilize my balance on those wet rocks.

          One of the things Helen and I are always sensitive to is the risk of injury on the trail. We’re both a little long in the tooth and are sometimes in rather remote areas not easily accessible by emergency crews. Neither one of us ever wants to have to make that phone call – so common sense? You better believe that it’s taken out with us on each and every trip!!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ll be down that way this summer. I think a sidetrip is in order. What a gorgeous cascading waterfall! And I’m glad to hear there’s a fence to keep you and my husband on the path! I’d be the woman behind the fence hollering “For God’s sake, get back here!”

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  6. I also love waterfalls and hope now Carol and I have finished the trail we too can go back and do some interesting side trails. Also a great day trip – in the car – is the trip that explores the 7 waterfalls of Bruce County.

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  7. Beautiful, Joanne! I’m planning on getting Nicola Ross’s latest Loops and Lattes guide, which is all about Hamilton and it’s abundance of waterfalls. Hopefully it hits the shops soon!

    So far, I’ve only been to Webster’s Falls, which people were still wading at the bottom of…but that was several years ago so perhaps it’s been fenced off too, by now.

    Deb

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    • I remember Webster Falls from our Bruce Trail hike and even though it was November/December, there were people climbing on/near the falls. I haven’t heard anything about it being fenced off. It would be a shame if it was.

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  8. Beautiful waterfall, Joanne, and I’m probably NOT one of those people who would climb down the side of a waterfall to get a good photo unless I thought it was safe. I have been known to trip over my own feet, sooooo…

    If you and Guilles ever get to Virginia, you have to hike Crabtree Falls in George Washington National Forest. Up and up and up you hike on a trail that follows the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Gorgeous view at the top! It’s located in Nelson County, which is also home to several wineries and micro breweries…because that three-mile hike will make you thirsty. 😉

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    • Cool! Another blogger I follow just posted a few days ago about that trail! I remembered the part about the highest vertical drop east of Mississippi 🙂 Her pictures looked lovely, but I also imagined the continuous sound of that waterfall as you climb. Yes – I would definitely want a beer after a climb like that.
      Truth is, Helen and I always have a beer after any hike 🙂

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  9. You got some very good photos, Joanne. I love hiking to see waterfalls.

    There are waterfalls near us where volunteer firemen make several rescues every summer. You can safely walk around them, but some of the “desired” vistas are not safe. No fences yet.

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    • I was reading about these kinds of rescues and they’re pretty risky. In the Hamilton area, there are apparently 4 firehalls with specially trained teams to do ‘rope’ rescues – necessary when there are deep gorges. I understand why the fines are so steep.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad that you and Helen haven’t missed a beat in your trail adventures. (I’m also glad that those fences and signs were there to protect you!)

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    • I’m over my disappointment now 😉

      There is so much to explore and with summer quickly bearing down on us, our time out together will become considerably more infrequent. Summer is actually a time when we don’t seem to see each other very often … but it picks up again in the fall.

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