Hamilton Off The Beaten Path

  • A cascade at the bottom of the gorge
    A cascade at the bottom of the gorge
    by Faiza-Ifrah
  • Rugged beauty of the falls
    Rugged beauty of the falls
    by Faiza-Ifrah
  • Taking a respite from hot weather
    Taking a respite from hot weather
    by Faiza-Ifrah

Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Hamilton

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    Journey behind the Smokey Hollow Falls

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 9, 2010

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    This journey behind the falls is free
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    There was a roughly done track by hikers and teenagers populating the area all the way down to the bottom of the gorge. The stream was shallow below the falls and rocks from landslides made crossing over it easy. Children under the guidance of our friend descended the gorge, crossed the stream downstream of the falls and then headed for the falls to go behind the falling waters, i.e. under the outcrop. This is not always the best thing to do under falls located in an unstable area due to (1) the outcrop may be weak and may fall down anytime and (2) the clay / rock may be very slippery. The 2nd of those problems hit the youngsters hard. Not only did they tremble, they had all their clothes muddied.

    My friend and I watched in horror from the platform on top of the falls. My husband was not part of either group. He kept busy monitoring thunderstorm :-)

    The thunderstorm did come, but the second and a heavier one caught us during our next adventure of exploring Cliffview Falls.

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    Experience a cascade

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 10, 2010

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    The view of Darnley Cascade
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    We took a narrow trail from the park entrance to reach Darnley cascade. The trail went through dense foliage and Ifrah being leader of the pack had to struggle with many spiderwebs to enable us reach the Cascade. It was so hot that we were perspiring from head to toe with our T-shirts drenched as if we had come out of swimming pool. Black flies and mosquitoes, perhaps starved of human blood for many days, became another problem for us. Once there, we found the site very impressive. The shallow river was cascading down the sloping rock bed. The half sunk rocks afforded an easy passage downstream of the Fall.

    Darnley Cascade is classified as Curtain, Cascade or Washboard that cascades 4 metres (13.12 ft) down, having a width of 22 metres (72.16 ft).

    Darnley Mills (picture 4) was a profitable venture in 1800s, but turned into the ruins when other more economical means of generating power were invented. The Mill was in real ruins. Not only that, the visitors had turned the standing structure into a trash can. Not that bad, but still unacceptable. A cleaning operation is in order here.

    Other attractions nearby include convenience store, picnic table, BBQ, fishing, swimming, boat rentals, washrooms, Bruce Trail, Town of Dundas, Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Hermitage Ruins, Royal Botanical Gardens, Dundurn Castle, Hamilton Farmers' Market, Crooks Hollow Conservation Area, Christie Lake Conservation Area.

    However, earlier, when we reached the environs of the Fall, we could not locate the Spencer Creek Bridge and had to drive back and forth on Crooks Hollow Road to determine what bridge was referenced on the website to locate the Fall. Once we found the bridge (on 4th attempt) and the Darnley Mills ruins, we figured out the cascade itself a few hundred metres upstream.

    We had first gone to the Borer's Fall by taking Hwy 401 West towards London from Mississauga. We had then taken the Hwy 6 S (Hamilton) exit and travel approximately 20 km to Hwy 5 E. (Dundas St. E.). We turned right on Hwy 5 E. and then turn left onto Rock Chapel Rd. to reach Borer's Fall. In order to reach Darnley Cascade, we returned to the Hwy 5 E. and turned left (westward). Then we turned left onto Ofield Rd. S., turned right onto Harvest Rd. Harvest Rd. became Crooks Hollow Rd. We parked on the right, past the Spencer Creek bridge (unsigned), at the Darnley Mill ruins (see picture to familiarize yourself).

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    Top of the Smokey Hollow Falls

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 8, 2010

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    Top of the Fall and downstream view
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    This was our 3rd falls / cascade of the day and it looked great in terms of beauty and rugged environment it was located in. There was a viewing platform right next to top of the Falls where we waited to be joined by the other family, our long time friends and company in many earlier adventures, such as Sudbury in 2005, Niagara Glen in 2008, Islands Lake Conservation Area earlier in June 2010, etc.

    And it was expected. When there is so much heat, thunderstorm is bound to follow. When it came, we welcomed it for it also brought temperature a wee bit lower.

    Needless to mention, Smokey Hollow Mills was only noticible by its ruins (picture 3).

    Smokey Hollow Falls is also known as Great Falls. It is classified as a Ribbon, Falls, Terraced and drops 10 metres (32.8 ft) with a width of 5 metres (16.4 ft). It lies in Smokey Hollow Resource Management Area. Other nearby attractions include a convenience store, restaurant, motel, Town of Waterdown, Rock Chapel Golf Course, Royal Botanical Ground.

    From Cooks Hollow Road (Darnley Cascade), we returned to Hwy 5 E. (Dundas St. E.). We crossed the Highway 6 intersection and then turn right onto Mill St. before the railway tracks. After the overhead railway bridge the Smokey Hollow Resource Management Area parking lot was on the right. The waterfall is located next to the parking lot.

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    Activities galore at Christie Lake Cons Area

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Christie Lake Conservation Area, with its 336 hectare of one of the most beautiful lake settings on the Niagara Escarpment, has activites for almost everyone. We joined two other families to enjoy our two favorites - canoeing and hiking.

    In order to avoid traffic jams on Highway 403 / QEW we took Dundas Street all the way, crossing Highway 8, to the Christie Lake. The Conservation Area comes on the left hand side.

    We hiked through 10 kilometres of trail. These trails pass through green meadows and tall pine forests. A wide range of wildlife makes it home. In the summers trails are open for hiking, but more adventurous can try snowshoes or cross-country skis.

    360-metre sandy beach can get crowded, but when we reached the area on a hot day, the crowd was thin that suited us. Children rented out tubes and flutter boards from the nearby Beach House.

    One of the families were fishing enthusiasts and they immediately went for one of the nine ponds that were reportedly stocked with rainbow trout. We stationed ourselves halfway between the lakeshore and one of the fishing ponds. Although the family had brought their own bait, they ran short of it soon and had to buy it again at the gatehouse.

    Unlike the other family, we took to canoes, which are available for rent (see pictures). Exploring the lake on canoes was the most thrilling experience of our lives.

    Christie Lake has plenty of parking space, but be careful to park your vehicles closer to the picnic tables.

    Other attractions that we missed visiting due to our preoccupation with hiking, canoeing and fishing are many historically and environmentally significant landmarks, including Crook's Hollow and Spencer Gorge/Webster's Falls Conservation Area.

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    Copps Coliseum

    by coolpanda87 Updated Feb 27, 2004

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    Copp's Coliseum

    Copp's Coliseum is one of the GTA's favourite entertainment venues, serving as the stage for many internationally renowned artists and performers, including David Copperfield, Elton John, George Carlin, Hilary Duff, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart & the list keeps going on. Usually once entertainers are finished performing at Toronto, they will come right away to Hamilton to perform, then continue their tours. Copp's Coliseum has also hosted the WWF championships, Monster Trucks & Disney on Ice.

    Copp's Coliseum is also known as an excellent venue for sports, for it has hosted the Canadian Figure Skating Championship, NHL Hockey, The World Curling Championship, the World Junior Hockey Championship & World Judo Championship. It is currently home to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. No NHL team has been established here yet, for there is a fear that it could detract fans from the Buffalo Sabres & Toronto Maple Leafs. Both are only about an hour away! The most memorable sports event at Copps Coliseum is Mario Lemieux's Cup-clincher against the Russians in the 1987 Canada Cup. If you have a chance to visit the building, you will find that it is a high standard hockey rink compared to many other cities.

    The building is easily accessible & parking is easier than at Toronto. Copp's Coliseum's acoustics is absolutely wonderful, so watching concerts here is perfect!

    The facility is located in downtown Hamilton, right beside The Ronald V. Joyce Centre for the performing arts, the Hamilton Convention Centre & Hamilton Place Theatre.

    Copp's Coliseum has a total of 117,000 square feet of exhibition space & can handle a full size show for 19,000 people.

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    Hiking on Bruce Trail for reaching Borer's Fall

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 9, 2010

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    Taking a respite from hot weather
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    We were totally drenched by perspiration during the hike in a sweltering 36C (with a humidex of 41 C) on the Bruce Trail (Ontario's very humble answer to the great American Appalachian Trail) to reach the Borer's Fall. This was July 7, 2010. The foliage was dense all along the trail, adding to the humidity (picture 4 and 5). My daughter always questions me on my clothing during the hikes. She says I am overdressed, but that helps me. You may not believe, but I have gotten sunburns on quite a few occasions and my stole acts as a protector.

    At couple of places the trail squeezed past between the Rock Chapel Road and the deep ravine, forcing us to jump over the railing on to the road for security. Ideally, we should not be doing it though. Hiking on Bruce Trail is a pleasure normally, specially for the variation in foliage all across Ontario. However, on this particular day, it was a total nightmare.

    A small departure from the Bruce Trail took us to the head of the Fall. We sat down here for a rest, drinking fluids, and pictures (pictures 1, 2, and 3). The heat had taken a heavy toll on our spirits.

    In order to reach the Fall, we took Hwy 401 West towards London from Mississauga. Then took the Hwy 6 S (Hamilton) exit and travelled approximately 20 km to Hwy 5 E. (Dundas St. E.). We turned right on Hwy 5 E. and then turn left onto Rock Chapel Rd. At the Escarpment brow, we parked at the Rock Chapel Sanctuary (unsigned) and followed the Bruce Trail north to the waterfall lookout.

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    Viewing the Borer's Fall

    by Faiza-Ifrah Written Jul 8, 2010

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    Borer's Fall lookout
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    Borer's Fall, located in Rock Chapel Sanctuary, can only be viewed from the distance from a lookout in dense foliage. It turned out to be a Ribbon fall that Plunges 15 metres (i.e. 49.2 ft). It is 5 metres (16.4 ft) wide.

    After taking another rest under the shade, we continued our hike on the Bruce Trail to see if there was any track going down the ravine. We could not find any. The only track we could find was located close to Rock Chapel road and had become victim of a landslide. My husband did make an attempt to see if it is worth exploring, but gave up soon.

    Other attractions in the vicinity include restaurants, a motel, Borer's Falls Conservation Area, Town of Waterdown, Smokey Hollow Resource Management Area, Spencer Gorge / Webster's Falls Conservation Area, Dundurn Castle, and Hamilton Farmers' Market

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    Exploring Smokey Hollow Falls downstreams

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 9, 2010

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    The rocky streambed
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    The track leading down the gorge was difficult but the entourage managed to negotiate it (picture 2). The walls of the gorge were heavily vegetated (picture 3), but seemed unstable as many evidences were seen of landslides on the other side of where we were located, even uprooting trees at ridge (picture 4).

    The river flowed through a rocky terrain filled with dead trees (picture 1). Even under this hostile environment, some flowering plants were showing their colours off in the most majestic of ways (picture 5). We also saw some trash that visitors had left after picnicking and we found the culprits. This falls is very popular with teenagers who we saw coming in groups for a quick dip in the pool. Some of the youngsters threw the paper glasses in the river that got caught amongst the rocks.

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    Lower Cliffview Falls - tribulation and triumph

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 12, 2010

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    The Falls turned out to be disappointing
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    Barring the youngsters, the adults in the group were panting like dogs after ascending the 289 steps of the metal stairs that we had descended earlier in search of the Cliffview Falls. Yes we made it, but only to the less impressive Lower Cliffview Falls and that too after taking time to catch our breaths every now and then. We attributed our poor performance to our depleted energy due to exploring three falls earlier in extreme heat and humidity.

    The falls itself turned out to be disappointing with no access due to a fence probably erected by Chadoke Golf Course. Besides, there was some small kind of construction going on. It was the stairs, the thunderstorm that caught us when we ascended to hike on Chadoke Radial Trail, the Bruce Trail, and finally, a little picnic at the Cliffview Park featuring Chai (Tea) that turned our disappointment into an excellent adventure finale. Perhaps a better view of the Falls can be had from the Bruce Trail that traverses the cliff at about halfway mark. This could be an adventure for another day.

    Cliffview Falls is a Talus Classic Cascade measuring 4 metres (13 feet) in height and 3 metres (10 feet) in width. Other nearby attractions include Bruce Trail, convenience store, motel, Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area, Chedoke Radial Trail, and Chedoke Golf Course

    From Smokey Hollow Falls, we drove back to Highway 5 West (Dundas Street), took Highway 6 south down the escarpment to Highway 403 West (Brantford). From Hwy 403 we took the Aberdeen Ave. exit and then turned right onto Queen St. S. We followed Queen St. S. up the Escarpment, where it turned into Beckett Dr. and then Garth St. We turned right onto Denlow Dr. and followed this road until it became Scenic Drive. Just past Upper Paradise Road, we parked at Cliffview Park. The waterfall was located at the mouth of the gorge on the west side of the park behind the fence.

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    Experiencing the eerie and lonely Sherman Falls

    by Faiza-Ifrah Written Jul 20, 2010

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    The Falls
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    When we reached Sherman Falls after hiking on the Bruce Trail, we found the ravine so heavily forested that the light value was poor requiring us to either use flashgun (not recommended at all to cover waterfalls) or use 2-3 stops above the normal exposure.

    As at other waterfalls, we noticed mountain bikers exploring this Falls as well.

    Sherman Falls is a 17 metres ( 55.76 ft) high and 8 metres (26.24 ft) wide curtain waterfall, whose source is Ancaster Creek. It is located on private property near the Dundas section of the Bruce Trail. It has a year-round flow and also enjoys the romantic nicknames of Angel Falls and Fairy Falls.

    Other attractions in the vicinity include restaurant, retail stores, Town of Ancaster, Dundas Valley CA, Hermitage Ruins, Griffin House, Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum, Dundurn Castle, Hamilton Farmers' Market, Crooks Hollow CA, Christie Lake CA, Tiffany Falls CA, Iroquoia Heights CA.

    From Hwy 403 we took the Lincoln Alexander Parkway exit and merged onto Rousseaux St. At the ‘T’ intersection, we turned right onto Wilson St. E. Turned left onto Montgomery Road and then turned right at the stop sign onto Old Dundas Road. We went through the next three-way stop, Lions Club Road, and parked on the gravel shoulder, where few other cars were also parked. The waterfall is located on the opposite side of the road.

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    Waterfalls at Chedoke Radial Recreational Trail

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Oct 12, 2010

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    By the waterfall
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    We only could say 'Wow!' at our first experience with the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment, the Chedoke Golf Course and a magnificent view of the west end of Hamilton and the Dundas Valley by hiking on Chedoke Radial Recreational Trail (pictures 2 and 3). The extreme warm weather did not make our hike any easier.

    Hiking westwards of the parking lot of the Golf Course, we were able to see some small natural and man improved waterfalls like the one in the pictures 1 and 4. We had to leave the Radial / Bruce Trail to get up and close with the waterfall. The access was easy.

    The Chedoke Radial Recreational Trail is a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, both of whom we saw many in numbers. It is part of the Bruce Trail. The trail begins at Hillcrest Avenue, runs for 2.7 kilometers southwest, crosses the sprawling Chedoke Golf Course and traverses the escarpment to Scenic Drive. Here, the trail links with a Hamilton Region Conservation Authority Trail that crosses the Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area and ends at Highway 403.

    Trail entrances are located at Hillcrest Avenue (just east of Dundurn Street South), Chedoke Golf Course (which we used), and at Scenic Drive (at Upper Paradise Road), where the escarpment stairs located at Dundurn Street south and at the Chedoke Golf Course also lead to the trail. The stairs have a bike trough.

    In order to reach Chedoke Radial Recreational Trail, we took Highway 403 to Hamilton and exited on Aberdeeen Avenue. After 1 km, we turned right on Studholme Road and then turned left on Beddoe Road. We followed it till we reached the parking lot of the Chedoke Golf Course.

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    Awestruck at the rugged beauty of Albion Falls

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 20, 2010

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    Rugged beauty of the falls
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    We found it interesting that a model was having her shoot for building a portfolio to win contracts at model agencies. This falls was ideally suited for showing both the rugged terrain and rocks for positioning oneself for photo shoots (picture 1 and 2). Albion Falls turned out to be quite popular with visitors, who unfortunately were overwhelmed by the ruggedness of the surrounding and chose to watch from the other side where a natural lookout platform was available (picture 3).

    Needless to mention, the rocks at the bottom of the gorge, probably lying there due a landslide, offered avenues for the younger lot (my son and his cousin) to vent out their energy (picture 4)

    The access to the ravine below was difficult, yet we saw mountain bikers going down into the gorge (picture 5).

    Albion Falls is categorized as a Complex Classic Cascade waterfall. It drops 19 metres (62.32 ft), has a width of 18 metres (59.04 feet), and is located at the southernmost tip of King’s Forest Park in Hamilton, its source is Red Hill Creek. Albion Falls enjoys year-round flow.

    Other attractions in the neighbourhood include Mount Albion CA, Felker's Falls CA, King's Forest Golf Course, Mohawk Sports Park, Glendale Golf Course, Escarpment Rail Trail, Battlefield House Museum, etc.

    In order to reach Albion Falls, from Highway 403 in Hamilton, we took the exit for the Lincoln Alexander Parkway. We then took the Upper Gage Ave. exit and turned left onto Upper Gage Avenue, turned right onto Mohawk Rd. E. and then turned right again onto Mountain Brow Blvd. We parked in the parking lot at Arbour Road and followed the Bruce Trail across Mountain Brow Blvd. to the waterfall.

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    Failed brutal hike to explore Lower Chedoke Falls

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Oct 12, 2010

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    The cascade is devoid of any water
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    We hiked on Radial Recreational Trail eastwards of the Chedoke Golf Course parking lot this time to find Lower Chedoke Falls.

    When we found the west end of the ravine, we decided to leave that Radial Recreational Trail and hiked upwards following Bruce Trail markers. However, the crest of the trail was too far away from the waterfalls the sound of which we were hearing. Also, the foliage was thick with no views. So we went to the eastern end of the ravine and hiked up. The slope on the ravine and then the gorge was so sharp and slippery that we nearly avoided falling deep in the gorge. Besides, the foliage was so thick that there was hardly any sunshine reaching the forest floor (pictures 2 and 3). This hike was brutal and dangerous. I would not recommend anyone, except daredevils, to take it. And daredevils is exactly whom we met there - mountain bikers. They were trying to find a way to get down to the bottom of the gorge, but then they gave up too.

    More disappointment was in order. The fall was not the Lower Chedoke Falls that we were trying to locate, but some other falls that appeared to have degraded itself into a small cascade due lack of water in the creek (pictures 1 and 4).

    The mountain bikers bid us goodbye and said lets meet up at Webster Falls, which we declined, because we had already covered it.

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    Exploring Albion Falls downstreams

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 20, 2010

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    A family interested only in hiking
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    As my daughter and I decided to hike on the easier Escarpment Rail Recreational Trail back in the conservation area where we had parked our car, my husband, son and his cousin hiked along the fast flowing water of the creek downstream. The slope was comfortably sharp. The walls of the ravine were heavily forested, but the bed was full of rocks and the water was flowing at a high speed meandering through them.

    While we were still at the Falls, a mother with two kids and a dog came down and immediately started the hike down the ravine (picture 1). This was our clue to get going too. The trio found negotiating the rocks only moderately difficult, but I would surely recommend good quality hiking shoes that are waterproof, as one of the two younger lads later narrated to me horrors of slipping on the rocks.

    The party reported it to be a moderately difficult hike enjoying carefully stepping over the rocks, with greenery of the trees on the ridge line and muddy walls of the ravine in between.

    Surprisingly, they reported that wildflowers were conspicuous by their absence.

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    Pretty Mills Falls in a pretty neighbourhood

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Jul 20, 2010

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    The Mill Falls and Lower Mill Falls in one shot
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    We were pleasantly surprised to note that the Mill Falls and the Lower Mill Falls were located on private property, but as the land is the site of a restaurant, people are welcome to view the waterfall. We viewed the Lower Mill Falls (picture 1) at the lower parking lot just below the large stone mill building (picture 3) and the Mill Falls near the restaurant (picture 2).

    The Flour Mill, the Old Mill Restaurant, and the Falls are located in a beautiful upscale neighbourhood of Ancaster Township, which is part of Hamilton.

    The waterfall is named after the four mills once located at this site. The first three mills were destroyed by fire and the present stone flour mill was built in 1863. The building was constructed with limestone blocks taken from the actual site. Its walls are four feet thick at the base. The flour mill is one of the most substantial stone structures in the province. The Ciancone family bought this site in 1972 and built the “Old Mill Restaurant” in 1979.

    The Falls measures 6 metres (20 feet) in height and its crest width is 4 metres (13 feet). It is considered a Complex Classic Falls, and has water flowing over it year round.

    Other nearby attractions include Heritage Trail, Bruce Trail, convenience store, retail stores, Town of Ancaster, Dundas Valley CA, Hermitage Ruins, Griffin House, Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum, Dundurn Castle, Hamilton Farmers' Market, Crooks Hollow CA, Christie Lake CA, Tiffany Falls CA, Iroquoia Heights CA.

    From Hwy 403 we took the Lincoln Alexander Parkway exit and merged onto Rousseaux St. At the ‘T’ intersection, we turned right onto Wilson St. E. Turned left onto Montgomery Rd. and the turned left again at the stop sign onto Old Dundas Rd. Just past the Old Mill Restaurant on the left, we parked at the upper Old Mill Restaurant parking just after Ontario St. We crossed the road to the Old Mill Restaurant and found Lower Mill Falls downstream of Mill Falls.

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