Thursday, July 12, 2012

Great Falls...!

This was a pretty great hike. Alright, now that that pun is out of the way, I have to say it actually was really great! Great Falls (also known as Grindstone Falls) is probably one of my new favourite waterfalls in Hamilton - who knew! It's a good size, and the water flow was pretty substantial, considering how dry this summer has been!

It is really easy to get to, with a little viewing platform right there off of the parking lot. There are some conflicting directions online as to how to get there...we tried to get there off of Mill St. and that did not work (although maybe it is possible and we are just bad hikers) so I think the clearest way to get there is off of Waterdown Road. Take the 403 toward Toronto, and take the Waterdown Road exit. The Smokey Hollow parking lot will be on your left, around 2.5 km down the road, before the overhead railway bridge. And you're there!

We took a much more confusing route...which I am almost embarrassed to admit, but whatever - the directions we had found online were that the parking lot was adjacent to Mill St North...this is not the case. We parked and found a trailhead which led to some railway tracks and a stream. This was actually Grindstone stream, so we got that much right! There really was no trail whatsoever, and the stream wasn't even flowing that much to be impressive, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this route.We arrived at the base of a bridge and on the other side we found the falls! It felt a bit lame to emerge from the forest like that, with people casually standing around on the viewing platform, but we were too excited at 'finally' finding the falls.

photo credit: Veronica Pang

photo credit: Naomi Mahaffy

A section of the Bruce Trail starts at the base of the falls, and it is a very nice hike. It's very wide, and the stream is very picturesque. There are also some other falls along that way, Lower Snake Falls and Upper Snake Falls, but the Lower falls are not very distinct so it can be hard to know whether you are actually looking at it or not. We tried comparing them against some other photos online, but it is so hard to tell!

Is this a waterfall? Who can know...
Crossing the stream

Also crossing...
photo credit: Veronica Pang

There is another waterfall that is nearby called Boundary falls that we tried to get to, but you are supposed to use Snake Falls as a landmark to cross the stream. We kept going along the Bruce Trail, watching for our cue from the stream, but no such luck! If you feel like exploring, you can find the directions to the falls here.

This whole area is a really great section of the Bruce Trail, and even if you're not looking for more waterfalls, you should definitely check it out! Great Falls is very accessible and not a long hike, so it is easy to stop in for the view and head to one of Waterdown's many trendy caf├ęs or restaurants. We decided to finish off the day with smoothies again, this time from the Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe which also featured some photos of our newly discovered waterfall. The smoothies were also extremely delicious.

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