UPDATE: July 7th, 2017
It has come to my attention that the Hamilton Conservation Authority is now using a wristband policy for visitors to the Spencer Gorge area. I have not visited in the summer myself, but chances are you will still have to pay the $5 per person fee.
More information on accessing the area can be found in this article.
Dundas Peak is a beautiful lookout spot nestled in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area. From here you can enjoy a gorgeous view overlooking the town of Dundas as well as a glimpse of Hamilton. The Bruce Trail runs through this area along with other side trails that connect to additional conservation areas including Crooks Hollow and Christie Lake. Waterfall lovers such as myself will be delighted as this area is also home to Tews and Websters Falls, which is why Dundas Peak may ring a bell.
The most common way to access Dundas Peak is by starting at Tews Falls and taking the aptly named Tews Falls Lookout Side Tail. However, I suggest taking an alternate, quieter route by starting at the opposite end of the trail that’s close to the outskirts of Dundas. Why? If you don’t mind walking a little further, you can avoid paying not just the parking fee, but also their new per-head entrance fee without parking illegally and risking a parking ticket. More on that later.
To start, park on the side streets close to Fisher’s Mill Park where street parking is free and follow King Street towards the escarpment on the right side. Along it you’ll find an access which leads uphill towards the train tracks. Be VERY careful and cross ONLY when clear. I am in no way endorsing walking along the train tracks, as too many unnecessary accidents and deaths have occurred from this.
After crossing, follow the trail to the right and you’ll come to a fork which has a sign stating the Websters Falls stairs are closed. This trail leads to the base of Websters Falls and was an alternative way to get to the top, but now that they’ve been removed it’s a dead end. Keep to the right of this and follow the trail until you see two trees across the trail. There is an unofficial (but slightly intense) trail to the left of the first tree which scales the side of the ridge, but I’d suggest taking the Tews Falls Lookout Trail straight ahead.
The trail is steadily uphill so be prepared to be out of breath by the top, and don’t hesitate to take a break or two when you need it! Just follow the blue blazes until the trail widens. Here you’ll find Dundas Peak, which gives you a fantastic view over the town as well as a glimpse of Hamilton. Despite that many of the leaves have fallen, the view is fantastic no matter what time of the year!
And because I know many of you (like myself) will want one of those push-the-limit photos on the edge of the peak, be VERY careful. There have been an increase in accidents at many of the waterfalls and conservation areas because of sheer carelessness, and while I do take these photos myself, I always make sure I’m in a steady position without the risk of falling.
This hike is quite short as it takes about 30min each way, so if you’d like something longer then head back towards the Tews Falls Lookout Side Trail and go to the left. Following the trail will now take you to Tews Falls only. Unfortunately the connecting trail from here to Websters Falls is no longer accessible as it passes through private property. The owners have revoked access due to too many people disrespecting this gift, which is heartbreaking… too many people take what we have for granted and ruin it for everyone else! In order to access it now you’ll have to head for Harvest Road, take a left onto Short Road, and another left onto the well-named Fallsview Road. However be prepared to pay an entrance fee here.
Following that trail of thought, the Spencer Gorge area has been making news headlines because of the aforementioned per-head entrance fee on top of the parking cost. While I understand that much of these fees go back into maintaining the areas, I’m not in favour of charging admission to a natural area. The Hamilton Conservation Authority has made it clear that the sole purpose of this increase is to deter visitors – even their loyal ones! Get this, if you purchased a Hamilton Conservation Authority pass for $105, you still have to pay both fees from May until October. While this is one way to go about fighting the damage to the area and the increase in garbage, it isn’t teaching visitors to respect the area. If anything, I’ve seen an increase in garbage since the pay hike. Alas, I’ll keep bringing my bag with me to collect the trash I see and hope that the Hamilton Conservation Authority will step up its game with the extra income it’s receiving from the fee increase.
Hopefully my little guide to Dundas Peak will help you fully enjoy this beautiful area in Hamilton! If you can’t find parking near Bond St like the map below shows, you can also find free street parking along Livingstone Drive in front of Cascades Park. It seems as though there’s an access to the trail from Sydenham Road just around the corner from the park. I haven’t checked it myself but if you do and can confirm this is correct, please let me know!
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