Disclaimer: A lot of our journey took us through some daunting unofficial and official trails, it was pretty dangerous so I don’t suggest following in our footsteps. I suggest you use the official Bruce Trail which goes throughout the area, and use caution wherever you go as even official trails are dangerous at times.
This summer some friends and I decided to take a hike into the Ball’s Falls Conservation area. We started where Bruce Trail intersects Glen Rd and made our way towards the small town and neighboring waterfall that awaited us in the heart of the conservation area. The trail was quite rocky and beat up for much of the journey, it had some rather steep drops on the side at times. Definitely not the sort of trail you’d want to walk down if you are out for a calm stroll, however, I’m not an experienced hiker by any means and was able to manage my way down the trail well enough as long as I took my time. I was also carrying a camera bag on me at the time, which was luckily not that large or heavy, but didn’t help my journey as it frequently swung out of place and let out an audible squeak from the sling with every step.
The trail ran parallel to the runoff of the waterfall which took the form of a small stream that varied in width and depth as we walked along. It made for a great view for the hike, changing from a small river, to daunting rapids, to almost no waterflow at all in the span of a few walking minutes. We explored the coastline at times and spent some time skipping rocks before eventually continuing our journey.
After about an hour of exploring the coastline we reached a point in the trail in which we could either take stairs up the escarpment wall, or take a extremely dangerous human-made trail up a very steep part of the escarpment manually. Two of us, myself not included, took the stairs like normal individuals. The rest of us went up the extremely steep hill, ignoring the fact that what we were doing was clearly much more difficult than climbing stairs. After much struggle, we met up with our stair-climbing companions and headed into the town (Note: You should definitely take the stairs).
The town, a preserved relic from a time since passed, was almost completely abandoned, barring a few park workers. It contained an old church, a rather large estate house, a blacksmith’s hut, and an old barn which was left open to explore. Inside we found historic artifacts with corresponding plaques outlining their function. Moving through the barn, we exited on the opposite side where we found a rather large building, whose purpose escapes me and a platform overlooking the waterfall. At this time I grabbed my camera to take a few shots of the waterfall and it’s sheer size. We spent several minutes taking in the scenery before we decided that another great view of the waterfall would be from it’s base and we decided to try and traverse the small stream to take in that view for ourselves.
Backtracking down the stairs and down part of the trail, we tried to find an area of the stream that would be easy to traverse. We decided on an area with large boulders that formed some rapids, hoping that the boulders would provide enough relief from the water to allow us to cross. Luckily, our assumption was correct, and we were able to get to the other side of the stream. Now on the opposite side from the trail we started working our way towards the waterfall, climbing over boulders, and using some of the muddy coast to try and keep our feet dry. We did this for about 15 minutes until we reached a section of the stream that forced us to either walk through a bunch of weeds; which were poking out of a very rocky section of coast, cross the stream again to try and use the other bank, or climb a hill which had a small trail going up it. We opted for the trail and started climbing. The trail was definitely not official by any means and it was quite a struggle to get up the hill. At the top we realized that instead of continuing towards the falls we had actually gotten to the top of the escarpment on the opposite side of our original trail and we ended meeting up with another section of the Bruce Trail.
At this point our group was divided, half the group wanted to walk down the Bruce Trail, towards the town, and eventually work their way back to the car by looping back. The other half, which I was in, wanted to work our way back the way we came and get to the car that way. After some deliberation and water rationing, we decided to split and meet up at the car. Glossing over the fact that my group may or may not have made a wrong turn and ended up having to backtrack an hour just to get back to where we deliberated, the fact that I may have fallen in the river at some point, and the fact that we met a beaver up close and personal, we made it back to the car, another successful hike.
Here are some of the photo spots that I took note of during our journey:
- The heart of Ball’s Falls Conservation Area | Map
- Historic town with variety of buildings
- Great landscape shots of surrounding area
- Viewing platform of Ball’s Falls
- Bruce Trail (North of the town, side closest to Glen Rd) | Map
- In-forest shots
- Shots of the stream (Ball’s Falls runoff)
- Bruce Trail (North of the town, side furthest from Glen Rd) | Map
- In-forest shots
- Some great views from the top of the escarpment of the forest and stream below
- Path with tree-cover shots possible in some areas of the trail
Here’s a couple of photos that we have published from our journey right now, available for download:
- Ball’s Falls Focus Shot – Lower Falls
- More coming soon!