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