By George Bailey, Niagara Falls Review, link to original post
As a travel writer, once in a while I get invited to attend various travel-related events. When an invitation was extended to me to take part in one of the soon-to-be-introduced Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks (August 2013), I thought it would be just like any other hike. Boy, was I wrong. Yes, it was a hike, but much more.
Maria Fortunato, executive director of the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (www.theheartofontario.com), explained, “This walk has been a year in the making. It’s a type of packaged walking tour that’s never been done in Ontario. It’s most unique”. There are two tours offered, all-inclusive two-day and five-day waterfall walking holidays that wind along the Bruce Trail atop the Niagara Escarpment in the Hamilton-Halton area. Groups consist of anywhere from 12 to 20.Participants stay over night in top-notch hotels with scrumptious meals. No beans and wieners here.
From the moment I stepped onto the trail on the rocky collar of the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) near the edge of Hamilton, I knew it was going to be interesting. What was unique about this hike was that I observed my surroundings in a different way. It was because I was accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, Beth (Kummling) Gilhespy, executive director of the Bruce Trail Conservancy (www.brucetrail.org or 1-800-665-4453). She was a walking encyclopedia about the geology along the trail.
The morning walk took us through a Carolinian forest, past numerous waterfalls (there are 28 waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment) and scenic lookouts that left me in awe. Things you might see along the trail are paw paw, flowering dogwood and sweet chestnut. If you’re lucky (I wasn’t), you might get a glimpse of a southern flying squirrel or wooded warbler. This hike would be perfect for birders to add more names to their list of birds they’ve spotted.
After a full morning of walking 10 kilometres, we took a lunch break at the Ancaster Mill Restaurant. This landmark Ancaster dining establishment is a beautifully restored 19th-century grist mill. The nature theme continued with our Earth to Table cuisine. We lingered after lunch to absorb the lovely waterfall outside our dining room table.
After another afternoon of hiking (we were all wiped, but with that type of tiredness that you feel good about), we were shuttled to the Best Western Luxury C Hotel on Stone Church Rd. above the escarpment, which was home for the night. Home was never like this. After a real good shower, I rested for a few hours and then headed downstairs for another delicious meal, where we reminisced about our day of adventure. Sleep that night was easy.
I have to make a confession at this point. Due to other plans I had that day, I didn’t continue the hike. A few days later I spoke with a few of my fellow hikers who said they were now hooked on hiking and plan to do it again.
About the Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail starts (or ends, depending on where you are) at Queenston Heights and winds its way along the Niagara Escarpment through the Niagara region before heading towards the Bruce Peninsula at Tobermory. It is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, over 880 km beginning to end.
The Bruce Trail is funded almost entirely by individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations. Less than 1% is contributed by any level of government. Isn’t that refreshing?
Costs for the Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks
Keep in mind this tour includes a highly knowledgeable trail guide, accommodations in first-rate hotels, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and ground transportation between your hotels and restaurants. Also included are a one-year Bruce Trail Conservancy membership and an official Bruce Trail guidebook.
A two-day hike of 25 km where you view 19 waterfalls is $588 (+tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $794.
A five-day hike of 45 km where you view 28 waterfalls is $1,198 (+ tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $1,499.
www.grand-experiences.com/bruce-trail or 1-888-258-0441
To read about an adventure thru-hiking the entire Bruce Trail pick up a copy of Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.