UPDATE: November 14th, 2016
Unfortunately due to the influx of disrespect to the area, the Websters Falls Side Trail is no longer. The trail connecting Websters and Tews has be closed as the owners of the land have revoked access due to a number of incidents. You can still get around by taking the roads, however you’ll now also be paying a $5 per-head entrance fee on top of your parking fee.
More information on this can be found in this post.
One of the downfalls of moving to the Kitchener-Waterloo area is that I’m no longer a hop-skip-jump to a variety of trails and lookouts. I didn’t realize just how fortunate Niagara was until I left (that’s usually how it goes, right?), but luckily I have a set of wheels and decided it would be a good time to use them! I had been meaning to head towards Hamilton as the city is home to a number of waterfalls, most of which I didn’t even know existed until last year! Time to continue those 26th year resolutions I made (yes, remember those things we do in January-ish that we forget about?) and explore my ‘backyard’… and off to Hamilton I went!
It’s a 45 minute drive from KW on less major roads which is a nice drive, especially on a beautifully sunny day! There are a few different places to park, but I chose the lot right by Tews Falls and it costs $10 for the day. If you look at the two stars close together on the map below, you can see Tews is extremely close to Websters Falls, so it was two for the price of one! The icing on the cake? There’s a beautiful lookout there as well! I’ve put together a map where you can follow me as I explore the many waterfalls of Hamilton, and use the map for your own adventures as well! Just click on the map to view them all!
As the parking lot was closest to Tews, I made my way there first. Unfortunately from this location you’re unable to access the base of the falls, but it may be possible if you follow the river upstream. The area is quite gorgeous though, especially right now as it’s partially frozen! Tews Falls is actually the tallest of Hamilton’s waterfalls at 41 metres… just a few short of Niagara Falls! Although it may not look that high in the winter because of the frozen water building up at the base. There’s a few different lookouts you can view it from, which follow the Websters Falls Side Trail. Just be careful as the stairs are fairly steep and can be a little slippery. Heading this way takes you further from Websters Falls itself, but trust me in that it’s worth holding off on Websters for now!
The trail itself is fairly easy with some uphill stretches. As it is
somewhat winter, it’s a good idea to have a solid pair of boots on for traction. Some parts can also have a decent amount of snow on the ground, and nobody likes snow in their shoes! There are a few places along the trail where you can veer off for a nice view, but they can be extremely steep. I wouldn’t suggest heading down them, but if you’re feeling adventurous then be VERY careful. Slippery + steep hill + close ledge = recipe for disaster!
As you continue along the Websters Falls Side Trail, you’ll come upon Dundas Peak. Two waterfalls AND an amazing lookout point?! SCORE! You can see across Dundas on a clear day, as well as along the gorge back towards Tews Falls. It’s a great place to take a break and have a snack so you can fully enjoy the view!
From here you have three options. First, you can backtrack and arrive again at Tews Falls. Second, is you can take a slightly more round about way by following the Glen Ferguson Side Trail. Lastly, you can continue along the side trail and see where it takes you! I’d say it’s less travelled and more peaceful, but think about where you plan on going before heading that way. Unfortunately for me I thought it would lead back to Websters Falls, so I walked all the way down… only to find out I needed to go back up again. As you can see below, that’s quite the hill. Imagine how I felt when I realized I had to go right back up again!! However, upon further research, you can access two MORE waterfalls, Dundas & Sydenham Falls. I missed out on these, but I’ll keep them in mind for my next trip! Click the map further up for more information on their locations.
After finally making it around back to Tews Falls, I continued forward and looped around the top of the gorge. Beware though, the trail goes through private property. They’ve generously allowed us adventurers to use the trail still, but don’t go wandering off. Respect the property and trail so we can continue to use it! Also be sure to admire the beautiful modern-style house that sits on the property. I think I’ve found my new dream home!
Soon after you’ll arrive at a parking lot, and just past it is the ever so beautiful Websters Falls. A cascading curtain waterfall, it’s fed by Spencer Creek. The land used to belong to James Hamilton back in the 1818, which was then purchased by Joseph Webster 2 years later. Their family manor is still standing on the property, however the area now belongs to the Hamilton Conservation Authority and has been further developed into a public park. Along with this came a fence to protect visitors from the ledge by Websters Falls.
However, you’ll notice that there’s a set of stairs leading downwards a little further downstream. With the new fence, these stairs cannot be accessed, and signs on said fence suggest that you stay behind it. As the weather was beautiful and the stairs fairly clear of snow, I took it upon myself to be a bit of a rebel and see where those stairs lead. They take you to the base of Websters Falls where you can truly admire her and all her semi-frozen glory. I do not endorse doing this as the base of the falls is EXTREMELY slippery as it’s covered in ice, but I didn’t listen to my own advice so do as you will! After a few minutes of enjoyment, I made my way back up the stairs and back to the right side of the fence as if nothing ever happened.
The Spencer Gorge area is perfect for a day trip with lots to see and do. ONE THING TO BE AWARE OF: the outhouse at Tews Falls is LOCKED in the winter… aka nowhere for one to use the facilities! I’m glad I used the bathroom before heading out but it’s something to take into consideration while wandering the area. Websters Falls is said to also have facilities, however I have a feeling they’ll be locked as well.
This is only my second time fully exploring waterfalls in Hamilton, but I’m excited for more! Keep an eye using this map of my progress, or use it to check out a few yourself! If you do, I’d love to hear about your adventures so tag me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and I’ll share!