Bruce Trail Part 5 – Ball’s Falls to Mountainview

We’ve passed a lot of farms over the past few treks but this is the first time we encountered a friendly farm dog with lots of little goats eager for anyone passing by to feed them something.  It was funny seeing all of these animals chasing after us as we walked past them.

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A rainbow next to Ball's Falls

Continuing where we left off at Ball’s Falls, our hiking group decided to start off by visiting Ball’s Falls again under better weather and we were in luck — in time to enjoy a rainbow or two!  We anticipated some rain but nothing too significant.

We’ve passed a lot of farms over the past few treks but this is the first time we encountered a friendly farm dog with lots of little goats eager for anyone passing by to feed them something.  It was funny seeing all of these animals chasing after us as we walked past them.

Passing by a farm with some little friends.

It continues to impress and amaze me as I hike through the trail during the spring time.  The relatively bare trees and early-spring green sprouting and blooming creates such a beautiful contrast of life.

Enjoying the green floor

I could not be more in-awe when the sun came out and made the whole landscape change.  The carpet of goldish-white fallen leaves simply made the whole scene glow.  We all generally agreed that this was a stunning area to sit down and to even sketch.

One of my favourite areas of this section of the hike.

We finally pried ourselves away from these amazing areas and pushed ourselves up the escarpment until we got to the top.  It was a steep hike but it was worth it.  Some good lunch spots once we got to the top of the escarpment where we were able to enjoy lunch while birdwatching.  We saw a number of blue jays and turkey vultures playing hide and seek.

A pretty steep hill up to a great lunch spot

The turkey vultures were an interesting bunch.  They would often just hover and glide over the trees — going around and around in circles in the air.  However once it began raining, they all stopped and would just perch on the tree branches.  The escarpment made for a great opportunity to observe these turkey vultures because we were practically on the same elevation as the birds themselves!

Turkey vultures along the escarpment.  They stopped flying as soon as it rained.Enjoying views near the top of the escarpment.

I began raining harder than we anticipated so we quickly pulled out the rain jackets and the pack rain covers.  I didn’t have a rain cover for my 30L pack yet so I borrowed the one from my 85L pack.  From certain angles, it looked as if I had a parachute behind me.

We rather enjoyed this section of the trail.  Some of the hiking group thought that it was reminiscent of landscape in the Hobbit?A really pretty stream along the way.

Fortunately, the rain didn’t go on for too long and I was able to switch back from my waterproof camera to the Fuji X100 which I have been using regularly for all the photos that I am taking.  We came across some really pretty areas as we got closer to the end of this hike.

Almost like a lagoon but right next to a vinyard.  Very peaceful.There are a lot of peculiar vinyard names.

We did come across Mike Weir’s winery but the most bizarre winery we stumbled across was the Organized Crime winery.  Is this supposed to be a reference to the prohibition era?  Or were people supposed to dress up as gangsters when they visited for wine tasting?  Bizarre.

Arriving at Mountainview.  Very small parking lot.A little flower shop.  A bit informal.

The end of this hike wasn’t necessarily exciting but there was this little flower stand or booth right across from Mountainview’s tiny parking lot.  I’m curious how much in sales this booth receives but my friends weren’t impressed with the offerings when they checked it out.

We’ll be taking a short break from the Bruce Trail to hit up the Adirondacks so check out photo album for part 5 of the trek in the meantime!

Bruce Trail Part 4 – Short Hills to Ball’s Falls

This time I was prepared for the mud now that I found my gaiters, but the moment we stepped into Short Hills Provincial Park, we rejoiced that the muddiness had greatly subsided.  No longer were we struggling with quickmud (like quicksand?).  It was easy to make our way to Swayze Falls and even step foot on to the edge of the falls like my friend did.

Taking advantage of the drier weather by enjoying a different vantage point from the waterfalls itself.

Starting where we left off at Short Hills, we passed by Swayze Falls again. This time since it wasn’t as crazy muddy, we were able to explore the waterfall from much greater vantage points.  We also had another friend (and part time hiker)  join in on the fun and making the trek even more interesting with our hiking group growing temporarily to party of five.

This time I was prepared for the mud now that I found my gaiters, but the moment we stepped into Short Hills Provincial Park, we rejoiced that the muddiness had greatly subsided.  No longer were we struggling with quickmud (like quicksand?).  It was easy to make our way to Swayze Falls and even step foot on to the edge of the falls like my friend did.

And of course we started off with a muddy encounter.  My friends trying to step around it.

Alas, we celebrated a little too soon because some parts were still pretty muddy.  Those who didn’t have gaiters got their pants dirty pretty quickly.  This situation repeated itself numerous times that day.

Passed by a lot of nice views of farms.

Hiking along the Bruce Trail and escarpment is becoming quite fascinating.  We never know what we’ll end up seeing next.  I do enjoy the rustic old wire fences and farms in the distance but it makes me wonder how this land really appeared before it was settled.

Signs of spring on the ground.

Despite the trees being bare and the relatively cool temperature, you could easily see that signs of spring were everywhere to be found.  In fact, one of our friends was on a mission to photograph all the signs of spring.  I’d say it was mission easily accomplished!  Lots of flowers in the early stages of blooming and numerous patches of muted green found sporadically wherever you looked.

We encountered a nest of garter snakes while walking down this part of the trail.

The dry (and dead) leaves with their near-white, light brown, and beige colours blanketed the bare forest with a very nice and tranquil earthy atmosphere.  It doesn’t always provide for an interesting view but sometimes you can find an unexpected surprise along the way — like snakes.  Other times, rusty old machinery or equipment and even the odd concentrated patch of daffodils ready to bloom.  My only concern here is that the rust may be toxic to the vegetation.

Spotted rusty farm equipment sporadically along the trail.First green patch of daffodils along the trail.

Breaks can often be one of the most peculiar and interesting moments during the trek.  People seek out the local “restroom” (i.e. behind the bush, boulder, etc.) while others look over what others are snacking on or have brought along.  Usually I’m a little lazy when it comes to snacks so I pack a ton of energy and granola bars.  I think I might change that up a little in the future.

Took a break right about here next to the road.The vivid spring green all over.Having fun crossing the brook.  I took the opportunity to wash off some mud from my boots.

Streams and brooks are ideal for washing off some of the mud accumulated from the hike.  The trail passes through (or over) a number of these.  We like to observe one another attempt to find a way to get across without getting wet.  Me?  I just wade right through to wash off the mud on my boots (thank you waterproof boots).

Thought this was one of the prettiest streams and waterfalls we came across.

This section of the trail was actually very pretty.  We saw numerous streams and small waterways with many leading towards some beautiful waterfalls.  The geological formation in some areas like the photograph above is simply stunning on its own even without the greenery that we expect from the vegetation surrounding it.

Hiking with a larger group can slow you down but for what it takes away, you get in return lots of laughs and chuckles.  The many personalities shine through, and things you never thought of or noticed are brought to light thanks to the folks who join in on the fun.

Noticed this guy along the wayNo Trespassing! Hiking past a rifle firing range area. Yikes.

As we progressed through this section of the trail, we came across a rifle firing range.  We had initially thought we were hearing fireworks but we came to the realization that it was a firing range when we saw a large set of trucks parked in the distance — not to mention large signs warning us not to trespass.

Bewildered by all these rusty vehicle parts laying around.

When we arrived at one of the steepest hills that the group had to climb, I noticed a fair amount of “junk” laying around at the base of the valley.  I am still puzzled how all these pieces of a vehicle or machine managed to find their way here.

Probably one of the steepest climbs uphill for this section of the trail.

The groups toughest challenge was likely this steep hill and a large staircase later in the section of the trail.  We did however encounter a volunteer who was clearing out some branches and taking care of the trail.  I’m thankful for all the people who sacrifice their time to help make this trail accessible to folks like myself.

Hiking past a local vineyard.

You just can’t continue through the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail without passing by vineyards over and over again.  I think at some point some members of the hiking group have begun contemplating acquiring their own vineyard as part of their retirement strategy.

Stopping next to a stream to enjoy lunch.

As always, lunch on a hike is fantastic.  We parked ourselves next to a stream and even had a friendly toad that hung around us until we finished eating.  So far my lunch has always been a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and an apple.  Suggestions for changing it up are welcome!

Louth Falls, probably the prettiest waterfall of this section of the trail.

Briefly hiking further after lunch, we encountered what we should have chosen as our lunch spot.  Louth Falls was a beautiful waterfall that we were completely not expecting during our hike. I highly recommending stopping by and taking in the surrounding area around Louth Falls.

Some interesting rocky terrain to hike over.

The terrain that we’ve begun noticing as we are trekking along the escarpment is the rocky formation that you see in the photograph above.  It’s tricky for less experienced hikers to watch over because you can trip easily but as long as one paces themselves and is careful, it shouldn’t be a major issue.  It is a very nice change in scenery and footwork.  Of course, that was only a short run until we returned to looking at vineyards again.  I wonder if the plan is to try and get Bruce Trail hikers to stop for wine tasting.

More vineyards that we crossed paths with along the way.A very peaceful babbling brook that we crossed over.A few daffodils had bloomed.A view of the residential area we were passing by.

Surprisingly enough we passed by very few residential areas during this section of the trail.  From the escarpment we did notice some very nice houses.  I don’t know if I would want my home at the base of the escarpment though.

Amusement is seeing other people hiking through mud.

It never ceases to amuse me how everyone finds amusement in others crossing through mud.  I guess it’s the fact that it simply is so messy that most would try to find any way to avoid it.  There was a time when I even lost my boot in the mud.  Left standing with one foot, I had to call out to my friends to retrieve my boot so that I could that make my way out of the muddy patch.

A serious set of stairs!

As we progressed through the remaining section of the trail, which might I add is another very pretty section but I have to limit the number of photos somehow — the major challenge left right before the finale is a giant staircase.  Unfortunately for those who have weak knees or knee issues, this does pose an issue as it did for a couple of our hiking group members.  It simply takes a little more time with a gradual ascent.

Finally, we arrived at Ball's Falls

After climbing that giant set of stairs, we made our way through a historical “pioneer village” of sorts and arrived at the lookout point for Ball’s Falls.  Not exactly the nicest looking waterfall but it was a nice way to end the hike.

We then continued back to the Ball’s Falls conservation area parking lot (they have a nice LEEDs building there), and encountered a family rolling Easter eggs down a hill.  I’ve heard about people doing this but this was the first time I’ve seen it in action.  Pretty cool but funny to see 🙂

Take a look through the full gallery for part 4 while we set off for part 5 of the Bruce Trail trek!

Bruce Trail Part 3 – Glenridge to Short Hills

Finally a little warmer and sunnier, we returned to Glenridge to continue our Bruce Trail hike from where we left off.  Our hiking party grew by one!  Starting off a little earlier that day, we found ourselves passing through Brock University in the earlier section of the trail.

Passing by Brock University early in the trail

Finally a little warmer and sunnier, we returned to Glenridge to continue our Bruce Trail hike from where we left off.  Our hiking party grew by one!  Starting off a little earlier that day, we found ourselves passing through Brock University in the earlier section of the trail.

It was interesting how the Bruce Trail took us past a part of the Brock University campus.  I think we even saw some rock climbing walls gated away.  After passing by a university student centre and some interesting architecture, we finally moved on into a forested area where we got to enjoy the beginning of a muddy journey.

Enjoying the surroundings along a trail bridge.

After some initial muddy areas, we arrived at a clearing with a small bridge.  Had a great view of the surrounding reeds and wetlands.  Spring is finally showing itself but then, so is the mud.  As we progressed, the muddier the trail got.  We didn’t even realize how bad it would get.

Pretty muddy today...

We stopped for a quick snack break after trudging through some serious mud.  Thankfully, we got a break once we got to sunnier and higher ground.

Enjoying the view while passing by a reservoir.Enjoyed lunch next to a nice waterfall and old mill.

As always, I enjoy the places we stop off for lunch.  They always have unique character or stories.  In this case, we were halfway through the section of the trail we planned to the complete when we came across Ecew Falls and the mill.  There were a couple of picnic tables nearby so this was perfect for a lunch spot.

Looking for directions?  A misplaced signs.

The trail gets more interesting.  Oddly enough, the trail weaves around some buildings just metres away from the old mill and Ecew Falls.  I wonder the handful of metres we walk on the trail are sometimes a bit arbitrary.

We crossed many muddy areas and streams, trying not to slip and fall.

I really enjoyed the latter part of the trail but we were all getting a bit weary of the mud.  In fact, we all took fewer photographs due to the amount of mud we had to trek through.  Not too much fun when your boot is about to get stuck in the mud every few steps and alas, I couldn’t find my gaiters my time.

The trail just got muddier.  Almost quicksand-like.

We eventually got to a point in the trail where the conditions were extremely muddy.  Almost like wading through a shallow swamp in some places.  Eventually we discovered signs indicating that over a hundred soldiers had apparently marched through the trail churning up the mud.  I’m surprised that they were allowed to hold such an event.  The trail must’ve widened significantly due to all that foot traffic.

Escaping the muddiness, we find ourselves walking down a gravel path.Always interesting to hike past the power lines.

Eventually once we made it past the muddiest section of the trail, we enjoyed a section of gravel path as a break from the mud and made our way to a field.  I’m pretty sure I’ve been here before during the autumn time quite a few years ago.

A pretty muddy part of the trail.  I slipped on the way down.

After enjoying the view of the field and power lines, we descended down this muddy hill.  While attempting to side step some serious mud, I slid on to my side.  Fortunately I didn’t get mud all over myself thanks to my backpack.

Our last stop -- Swayze Falls.  Too bad we weren't able to reach the bottom of the falls.

Finally after trudging through the mud madness.  We finally arrived at our destination, Swazye Falls.  It was a bit of a disappointment because the surroundings were too muddy to safely get closer to the waterfalls, but it was still a beautiful sight.  A little bit of reward after taking a few dunks in the mud.  In fact, only one of us managed to avoid falling.

Can’t wait for the next section of the Bruce Trail — hopefully with less mud! For now, you can view the full gallery for Glendridge to Short Hills.

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