The metro port city of Hamilton resides in Southern Ontario. With an approximately rectangular shape, the port tips the west side of Lake Ontario. The mountains, waterfalls, parks, and bays all exhibit the vibrancy and beauty of this major Canadian city. The city combines unique wildlife, urban and industrial sectors, waterfalls and beaches, calm neighbourhoods and many more. This article will give you a vivid picture of how interesting it will be for you to explore the mountains in Hamilton!
The mountains in Hamilton are a significant place to visit in their specific conservation areas, especially for adventurous tourists, geologists and photographers. This is due to their magnificent views of sightseeing, hiking and trekking. From gorges, and valleys to creeks and waterfalls – wonders and ventures fill the majority of the port!
1. Geography and Geomorphology
The rectangular Hamilton region is centred geographically in the Golden Horseshoe. You will find it in Google Maps at the west end of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario Province. Hamilton Harbour and the Niagara Escarpment are the two main physical features of the place.
Kettles, kames and moraines are the glacial depositional features. Cascades and Waterfalls are numerous in Hamilton. This is because of the dominance of cliffs and mountains. You should be aware of the map study and the landforms study of Hamilton if you’re planning to visit.
2. Conservation Areas and Waterfalls
A Conservation area is a well-delineated, natural geographical region. It is a legal environment-protected region of particular public interest. The Conservation Areas of Hamilton are well known for their gorges and waterfalls. Different hiking trails with varied vantages are the striking sport craved by all tourists here. The mountains in Hamilton are the gemstones of these environmental areas.
The famous conservation areas include Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, Crook’s Hollow, Christie Lake Area, Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area, Confederation Beach Park, Fletcher Creek Area, Saltfleet Area and Fifty Point Conservation Area.
Hamilton Mountain accredits its hydro beauty to its impressive waterfalls and cascades, which must be more than a hundred in number. Some of the best are Albion Falls, Webster’s Falls, Tew Falls, Sherman Falls, Buttermilk Falls, Tiffany Falls, Borer’s Falls, Smokey Hollow Falls and Felker’s Falls.
Read more to know about 16 amazing waterfalls in Hamilton and their associated hiking trails.
2.01 The Niagara Escarpment
One of Canada’s most prominent and longest escarpments is the Niagara Escarpment, from which arises the Niagara Falls. In simple words, an escarpment is a cliff. Geologically a cuesta, it extends a long way, a part of it being in Ontario. The rock type of this cliff is dolostone. UNESCO has cited it as a World Biosphere Reserve. Different conservation areas of Hamilton expose several sections of this escarpment and host many waterfalls. The Hamilton Mountain and Dundas Peak are exposed divisions of the Niagara escarpment.
3. Everything You Can Do
The mountains in Hamilton are famous for trekking, hiking and other such adventurous sports activities. Although there are other beautiful geological wonders too, the striking features of mountains top the list! Some of the significant peaks of Hamilton are listed as follows:-
3.01. “The Mountain”
It is a part of the Niagara Escarpment and runs like a vertical wall from western New York until it reaches the Illinois border. It intends the shoreline of Lake Ontario by about 4-5 km. Locals call it “The Mountain”. It offers a varied range of scenic views of the city and harbour. This Mountain hosts more than 100 waterfalls in the area. The elevation is marked at 194 meters above mean sea level.
3.02. Dundas Peak
Though risky, Dundas Peak is a small rocky outcrop near Webster Falls and Tew Falls of the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area. The spot is quite popular because of its accessibility. The fiery views of the peak are best displayed during the autumn season. The peak is elevated at about 234 meters above mean sea level.
3.03. Burlington Heights
Burlington Heights is an elevated landmass over an isthmus formed mainly of sand and gravel. It lies across the east end of Dundas Valley and above the west end of Hamilton Harbour. There are many botanical gardens, parks and cemeteries in the place. It can be called a promontory, though not a mountain, by terminology. The height of the landmass is 108 metres above mean sea level.
3.04. Fifty Point
The Fifty Point conservation area lies on Lake Ontario. Fifty Point is a hill with an elevation of about 75 meters above mean sea level that lies in this area. It has got some excellent lakefront views. A large 80-hectare area park hosts first-class marina facilities on Stoney Creek. Activities like fishing, boating, backpacking and camping, kayaking, and birding are available here.
You can read more to know a broader view of which are the popular Hamilton Mountains.
4. The Special Hamilton Mountain Trail
One of the best workout hikes of Columbia River Gorge is the Hamilton Mountain Trail, which is about 7 miles long and has a height of 2800 feet.
There are two routes for reaching the peak of the Mountain, either the “Out and Back” version or the “Lollipop” version. The route choice has to be made at some distance after crossing Rodney Falls.
4.01 The Hiking Styles
The “Out and Back” version is the shorter route as it takes you directly up the trail and back. However, you may miss some splendid views and parts on this route.
The “Lollipop” version is longer but less hectic since the route to return is very gradual. It first takes you up and then down, crossing the Don’s Cutoff and paving ways in the Hardy Creek trail.
The vital point that you have to note during the Lollipop Hike is that there is no view from the peak because of the bushy tree canopy.
Little Hamilton Mountain, which you’ll cross in the Out and Back version and The Saddle, which you’ll travel in the Lollipop version has the best views along the trail.
This trailhead is located at the Beacon Rock State Park siding Washington. There are two ways to reach the park. One is by heading north on I-5 (without a toll). The other is heading east on I-84 (with a toll of $2 for crossing the Bridge of the Gods over the Columbia River). The direct and fastest path from Portland is the first route, i.e. through Washington.
4.02 The Anticlockwise Lollipop Trail
A trail report that tackles the Lollipop Section in an anticlockwise manner enlists the hiking routes and steps as follows:-
Step 1: Way to Rodney Falls
The head of the trail to the fork is a 1.6-mile distance and is primarily mellow. You will cross a dense forest this way and finally reach Rodney Falls. To the left at the 1.25-mile marked fork, you will find the stunning Pool of Winds and the Upper Falls.
Step 2: Hardy Creek and Lollipop Fork
The wooden bridge also has a good view from there. Returning to that junction, you have to go in the steep descending way where you’ll reach the foot of Rodney Falls. Hardy Creek will fall in that way. After some time, you’ll have to climb again. The fork deciding the Lollipop trail will fall after you’ve climbed another 0.2 miles.
Step 3: Fork to Peak and Saddle
The next part of the journey involves traversing from that fork to the peak of the Mountain and the Saddle. This journey will be more hectic since you will find a set of steep switchbacks at regular intervals. The climb is quite tough, nearly 1300 feet out of a total of 1.8 miles up to the summit.
Step 4: Reaching Little Hamilton Mountain
However, the rise is worth it because you’ll find two best views of the hike. The last set of switchbacks will finally land you on Little Hamilton Mountain. It is a good place for snacking and resting.
Step 5: Way through switchbacks
From that place, the path is ridgy, and when a set of switchbacks enter the forest, you’ll know that you’re near the summit. As you move gradually, you’ll reach the fork from where Mount Adams will have superb views.
Step 6: Reaching the Peak
You will find the peak after heading right. To descend the Saddle, you have to run left. The Bonneville Dam, Table Mountain and other great gorge views can be seen there.
Step 7: Descent from Saddle up
Follow the “Equestrian from Trail” to descend from the Saddle. This is the route where the Saddle swerves into the trees. You’ll find the Don’s Cutoff signboard just after that turn. Take that road and reach the base of the Cutoff.
Step 8: Way back to the Parking Lot
It’s best to follow the Upper Hardy Creek Trail after heading left. You’ll get the Lollipop start. Return to Rodney Falls, and climb again till you find the way downhill to the parking lot.
5. Exploring Spencer Gorge
The best of the Spencer Gorge Conservation area are exploring Websters Falls, and Tews Falls and hiking Dundas Peak.
The Dundas Peak is a part of the Dundas town but is blended into Hamilton. The glimpses of the Dundas Valley and the Hammer appear heavenly from the peak.
The Bruce Trail is one of the finest adventure hikes in Ontario. Besides this, there are many other trails for hiking in the Dundas area of Spencer.
You should pay for parking over here rather than searching for alternatives (which are mostly not going to work because you’re likely to get fined).
Two platforms of the Tew Falls will fall on your right-hand side just at the beginning of the trail, one at the base and the other after you climb a few stairs. The higher stance of the fall point is from the second platform.
There are different parking for each of Tews Falls and Websters Falls. So, you have to reserve each separately. From its parking lot, you can easily reach Webster Falls via a cobblestone bridge.
6. Hiking the Dundas Peak
The Dundas Peak Hike is not an easy one. Though the surface is relatively even, you should be aware of a fair incline. The 1.8 km loop trail via the Tews Falls from the parking lot is a good option.
- There’s a staircase walk from Tews Falls at first, which the wooded hike will follow. The last stair step will give you the best views of Tews Falls.
- After the wooded walk, there is a bushy wooden platform on the right, from where the aerial view of the gorge is the best.
- The total time from going up via the Tew Falls to the peak and finally back to the parking lot will be about 35 minutes. Plus, the time that you’re investing in clicking photos from different angles. And the time and energy will be much worth it.
The views from Dundas Peak are immensely captivating. You will feel as if it is a wonderland. Autumn is the best season to visit Dundas Peak.
The striking splashes of orange, green and yellow colours, making a distinct lining beneath the clear light blue skies, have a divine and heart-soothing charm.
7. Summit Vistas: Exploring Hamilton’s Most Breathtaking Mountain Views
There are top-notch spots for sightseeing in the mountains of Hamilton. Mountain Brow West Park, Mountain Brow Lookout Point, Mountain Drive Park, Waterfront Trail Lookout Point, Sassafras Point Lookout and Armes Lookout Park are good ones with ratings between 4.5 and 5.
8. A Stay or Just a Vacay
Before you move to the city, be aware of your budget and other preferences. If you’re a busy employee working in a company, selecting a place near the station or highway is better. But, if you wish for a big area to settle with your family in an affordable home, it’s good to opt for something other than East Hamilton or Stoney Creek. A newcomer to the city may need help to adapt and navigate. But, they will be acquainted with the ways of the place with a steady living.
9. Final Note
With names like Steel City, The Hammer, City of Waterfalls and Tiger Town, Hamilton City booms with many exciting things. On a clear and crisp note, there are some points you should keep in mind if you are thinking of shifting there. Local shops, business settlements, and the Wild Water Works, Lakeland Centre banquet hall reside in the beachfront area. The port’s most flourishing areas are the escarpments, waterfalls and the seashore. There are various shopping centers, restaurants and malls too.
The Art Gallery, African Lion Safari, Dundurn Castle, Pier 4 Park, and HMCS Haida National Historic Site are exciting places to look into. The highways and expressways interconnecting main areas and locations make the tour even more accessible. There are about 40 best routes on the Hamilton Street Railway.
Hamilton is known for its popular hiking trails that connect its waterfalls and cliffs. Being a good travel destination, it may be on many people’s bucket lists. Hamilton Mountain hikes are the most sought-after adventures which one cannot afford to miss, when on a visit to this exciting place.