Ride just an hour west of Toronto and you will find yourself in a waterfall mecca. I’m not talking about the touristy Niagara Falls that your parents would drag you to every time family visited. I’m talking about the 100+ waterfalls that call the Hamilton area home. Within roughly a 15km radius of the city, you will find all sorts of amazing waterfalls to ride to, hike to, and potentially swim in.
I recently spent a day exploring a few of the waterfalls in the Hamilton area and mapped out a fun little route that you and your friends can take. Be prepared for some semi-serious to pretty serious hiking and climbing in order to get you to the base of most of these waterfalls. That is really the only proper way to experience a waterfall. You with me?
Pick Your Route
Pick Your Route
The Fast Route
The No Highway Route
What to Pack
I recommend wearing a pair of solid boots that you can hike and climb in. If you ride in a fancy pair of motorcycle touring boots then I recommend bringing a pair of hiking boots in your backpack or luggage. I ride in a pair of Chippewa Service Boots and they did both jobs well although having a thicker tread would have been helpful in certain climbing situations. If you’re checking out the falls in the summer, I would also suggest packing a swim suit and a quick-drying camping towel. You will be tempted to jump in on those hot days.
I personally didn’t pack much for this day trip. I was riding my wife’s 1978 BMW R100/7, I had a Kriega R20 Backpack loaded with my camera, and my portable Battery Pack to charge my phone and potentially boost the bike if it died. I started my day early to avoid traffic and to stop for breakfast and a coffee in Dundas, Ontario. Detour Cafe is a always my go-to shop in town. I really appreciate their welcoming attitude and their attention to quality in everything that they do. I hung out for a bit, drank a latte, ate an amazing salmon and cream cheese bagel and then headed to waterfall number 1.
Borer’s Falls is northeast of Dundas, Ontario, just outside of town along the Bruce Trail. This waterfall is just off of the main road on the north end of Borer’s Falls Conservation area. It’s in a fairly quiet area with a couple homes nearby and it very much feels like the countryside. The hike down to the base of Borer’s Falls seemed like it would take at least a good hour, so I snapped a couple photos from the lookout and decided to move onto the next one.
This was like walking into a scene of "The Goonies”. There was no one around, the waterfall is roughly 50 feel tall pouring into a giant pool of potentially swimmable water. It’s surrounded by cave-like rock and trees and it totally feels like you’re on tropical holiday somewhere. Chedoke Falls is in a residential area, so find a legal place to park and find your way down to the bottom. My hike down took roughly 30 minutes and it was well worth it.
My third and last waterfall of the day, and a nice change from the rest, was Albion Falls. Located on the southwest side of Hamilton on the west end of King’ Forest, Albion Falls is a beautiful 60 foot tall cascade surrounded by giant boulders. The climb down from the main parking lot is fairly challenging but absolutely worth it if you plan to hang out near the falls for a bit.
I visited the falls just after 12PM on a Wednesday afternoon and it was quiet with only a few people hanging out and enjoying the sun. Spending a few hours at Albion Falls with a book would be a fairly easy thing to do. I would even recommend it for a fun early afternoon/evening motorcycle date.
Before you plan your visit, have a look through the Hamilton Conservation Authority website and make a list of the waterfalls you actually want to visit. I would pick 3 or 4 to fill your day but still have enough time to hike, climb, hang out and enjoy each one. After you’ve picked out your preferred waterfalls, cross reference them on google maps in earth mode and use street view to try and narrow down access points and parking. The more you prepare before heading over the more time you will have to enjoy the falls. Remember folks, the more epic waterfalls are tall and fall from the top of a gorge. Climbing or hiking down to the base of these waterfalls is tricky, technical and dangerous. Please be careful but have fun!