This weekend I set out to get some quality nature time, and what better place to head than to the city of waterfalls! The plan was to seek out Mineral Springs Falls, however the closest parking lot is at the Hamilton Conservation Authority… which much to my dismay was closed for a private event. This, along with every other parking lot I could find in the area – and NO indication of where else a hiker could park! By chance I stumbled upon the Ancaster Wells (43°15’04.2″N 80°00’15.4″W), which had a small parking lot and free running, drinkable water. With how hot the day was, it was something to take note of! A quick consult of Google showed me a trail – the Sulphur Line Rail Trail – about 15 minutes south of the parking lot. So I set off along Sulphur Springs Road.
The road itself is extremely narrow with little to no shoulder to walk on, so you need to take extra caution when walking along it. Be on high alert while listening for cars, and at times you may need to stop on the side of the road for a car to pass. After about a kilometre I found the entrance to the Rail Trail.
This trail follows along an abandoned Canadian National Railway line which extends from Albion Falls down The Escarpment through Hamilton and all the way to Brantford. At 32km in length, it’s Canada’s first multi-use interurban trail way that’s fully developed! It also connects to the Trans Canada Trail, meaning there’s lots of possibilities for avid hikers and cyclists. I made my way towards The Bruce Trail, which brought me into the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
Shortly after entering the Rail Trail, I came upon the Trail Centre. At first sight you may think it used to be a train station, however it’s an amalgamation of sorts. Signs at the Trail Centre state that the structure is very similar to the former Canadian National Railway station in Grimsby about 45km away. Despite this not being a real station, train travel had a huge influence on Hamilton. The route between Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo brought 700,000 passengers along the route in 1913 alone! During its peak in the 1930s, the TH&B Hamilton passenger station opened in 1933 and has an art deco influence. You may still recognize it as it was reborn as Hamilton’s GO Centre – now a protected heritage building!
I made my way along the main loop trail, which partially follows The Bruce Trail. I did the trail counter-clockwise, first crossing the quaint Sulphur Creek as I made my way to the Hermitage. Unfortunately the area was closed off for a private event, but I was able to see what I really came for – the Hermitage Cascade. This beautiful cascading waterfall can be seen from a small lookout, and can be accessed from Sulphur Springs Road, however it is on private property.
Don’t be disappointed though, the main loop trail boasts loads of beautiful little nooks to explore. You can take a seat on one of the many benches along the trail and enjoy their view, or go a little off the beaten path. I’d suggest grabbing a seat up close with the Hermitage River. There’s plenty of spots to rest along the way as the trail’s elevation does vary, so be prepared for a good leg workout! The full trail loop is about 3.5km long but if you’re looking for something longer, there’s a variety of side trails to add some length to your hike. I’d suggest the Heritage Trail to the south, I promise you won’t be disappointed – but you’ll have to find out why in another post!
Want to go on your own adventure? Check out my map of Hamilton’s waterfalls, I’m updating it whenever I find a new slice of waterfall paradise!