Located in the aptly named Borer’s Falls Conservation Area, this beauty is another one of Hamilton’s beautiful waterfalls. While there’s 100+ in the city alone, Borer’s Falls is one of the most underrated waterfalls. Crowds flock to Tiffany and Webster’s Falls, so if you’re looking for a waterfall that’s just as gorgeous but without the crowds – you’ve come to the right place!
Getting to Borer’s Falls
Borer’s Falls is along the beautiful Bruce Trail and owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens. This waterfall is located within the Rock Chapel Sanctuary in Hamilton, Ontario. Where to start your journey depends on how long of a hike you’re looking for!
If you’re aiming for the easier route, there is a paid parking lot off of Rock Chapel Road. Click here to get directions to this parking lot within the Rock Chapel Sanctuary. I should mention that it’s closed in the winter months. Don’t fret as you can park on the road’s shoulder close to the gate. From here, you’ll see a trail sign on the right side of the parking lot. Follow the arrow for the Borer’s Falls trail and you’ll see the familiar Bruce Trail blazes.
However, if you’re looking for a good hike and a solid workout, follow York Road to the Borers Falls Dog Park where you’ll find free parking. Click here for directions. From here, take the York Road Side Bruce Trail to the Ray Lowes Side Trail. Be warned though… getting to Borer’s Falls is an uphill battle!
The Easy Route to Borer’s Falls
If you park in the Rock Chapel Parking lot or along the road here, follow the Bruce Trail blazes along Rock Chapel Road. Depending on how much snow there’s been, it can be a little tricky as the snowplows do their work. Take your time and follow the trail along the road until you reach a bridge. Here you’ll have to hop on the road for a little bit, so make sure the coast is clear before continuing. Oh, and sneak a peek at the crest of the falls!
Follow the trail to the right and you’ll come upon the lookout… and voila! You’ll see the areas has plenty of trees, so winter makes viewing this beauty a lot easier.
Borer’s Falls stands 15 metres tall and is a ribbon-style waterfall. Also known as Rock Chapel Falls, she powered the Rock Chapel Village sawmill back in the early days of colonization. It was run by the Borer Family for 100+ years, hence the name. I need to mention here that the area where Borer’s Falls is located originally belonged to the Anishinaabe, Attiwonderonk (Neutral) and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Colonization forced these people off their homelands so people like the Borer Family could settle.
The sawmill was the lifeblood of the Rock Chapel Village for a long time. However, the land in the area was later cleared which altered the flow of the creek. This diverted water from Borer’s creek, making it not powerful enough to run the mill anymore.
If you keep following the Bruce Trail, you’ll come upon a few lookouts. Enjoy the beautiful views of Hamilton and take a moment on one of the benches if you feel so inclined. Now you have two options, you can take the easy way and head back to your car or you can continue into the hard route. While you’ll be dealing with some bumpy terrain, you’ll be rewarded with yet another waterfall. Are you game? Read on!
The Hard Route to Borer’s Falls
I call this the hard route as no matter where you park, you’ll need to backtrack at some point, meaning some uphill hiking. Continuing from above, you’ll follow the Bruce Trail until it meets the Ray Lowes Side Trail. From here you’ll descend down the Niagara Escarpment. Enjoy the trails as it winds through the tall trees. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for creatures of the forest. It’s not uncommon to spot a squirrel, chipmunk, and even a woodpecker if you’re lucky!
Once the trail levels out, keep your eyes peeled for a small trail to your right. If you’ve reached the bridge, you’ve gone too far. Open Google Maps and it’ll help you spot the trailhead. This small trail (side-side trail if you will) will lead towards the riverbed. Take a moment to enjoy the view, especially in the winter as the icicle formations are gorgeous. Continue upstream and you’ll come upon your reward! Watch in awe as the water twists and turns amongst rocks and through small crevices. You’ll also see some unique ice formations in the wintertime.
INSIDER TIP: In the winter, this path can be quite slippery. Be sure to wear sturdy winter boots with great traction, and don’t be afraid to take your time. However in the summer, beware of poison ivy. This dastardly little plant frequents many spots along the Bruce Trail, and this area is no different.
The alternate spot to start the hard route is to park at the Borer’s Falls Dog Park as I mentioned earlier. One of the perks of starting here is that you’ll witness the river first, working up to the true larger counterpart. You’ll also get the uphill stretch done first, meaning the hike back down will be a rewarding change your legs will appreciate.
Lower Borer’s Falls & The Base of Borer’s Falls
This beauty is a complex curtain cascade that stands about 3 metres tall. Located just 200m downstream from its larger sister, she’s gorgeous in her own way. I had thought I witnessed it myself, however I was wrong. The side-side trail I mentioned earlier leads you in the right direction but you’ll have to continue following the river, clamouring over slippery rocks and rough terrain. I’ve heard you can get there by scaling the Niagara Escarpment as it levels out. Although I don’t think winter is the time to do this.
Additionally, it’s apparently possible to reach the base of Borer’s Falls. You’ll have to follow along similarly to how you’d access Lower Borer’s Falls. This would be an incredibly tough hike, and unless you’re extremely fit and sure of your footing, I would advise against it. If you have done either of these treks, I’d love to hear more so feel free to contact me or drop a comment below.
Lastly, recently on Google the label Sugar Shack Falls has appeared further south in the Rock Chapel Sanctuary. I have yet to visit it myself but I’ll be sure to update this post when I do!
When Is the Best Time to Visit Borer’s Falls?
As with many of Hamilton’s waterfalls, the timing of your visit really depends on you. Personally, I prefer winter as there are fewer crowds, no bugs and the ice formations are just incredible. However, I know that not everyone is a fan of the cold weather as I am!
If you visit in early June, you just might catch the beautiful lilacs in bloom along the trail. I didn’t realize there were so many bushes around Borer’s Falls and it was a real treat to both my sense of sight and smell! I have yet to visit in the fall but there’s no doubt in my mind that the autumn colours would just add to the natural beauty of the area.
One thing to note is that because Borer’s Creek doesn’t have a strong current, there is a possibility of it drying up in the summer months. If you’d like to ensure you see it with some flow and not just a trickle, I’d recommend visiting in the winter or in early spring. The yearly thaw will ensure you see Borer’s Falls in all her beauty!
Ready To Plan Your Own Visit?
Whether you take the easy or hard way, Borer’s Falls is a great destination for waterfall chasers. Another perk is that there are plenty of other waterfalls in the area, so you can easily make a full day of it!
Looking for More Bruce Trail Adventures? Check Out These Articles!
Hiking Indian Head Cove, Tobermory Grotto & More in BPNP
Sherman Falls, Tiffany Falls & More – the Best Waterfalls in Hamilton, Ontario
Dundas Peak – The Ultimate Guide to Hamilton’s Epic Lookout
Exploring the Beamers Falls Conservation Area in Grimsby
Belfountain Conservation Area & the Cheltenham Badlands