It’s time for my next Bruce Trail hike to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. As a quick recap, I’m slowly hiking the entire Bruce Trail – all 900km of it. It’s a hiking trail in southern Ontario that runs continuously between Tobermory and Niagara. And when I say “slowly”… I’ve been on this mission since my first Bruce Trail hike back in 2013 (close to when I first started this blog!).
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I started my Bruce Trail hike in Niagara in 2013, specifically at Queenston. On my last hike, I ventured through sections of Rockway Conservation Area and Louth Conservation Area (and everywhere in between). I ended my hike at a small parking lot on Glen Road in Lincoln, Ontario. This is precisely where I started my hike this time around, continuing on the trail.
You’ll notice that I didn’t actually hike that much of the Bruce Trail this time around. I only made a 1.3km dent in my total hiking goals. It’s because I really wanted to fully explore Ball’s Falls Conservation Area on this Bruce Trail hike. None of the other trails at Ball’s Falls are part of the Bruce itself. Once I reached the conservation area, I ventured off the Bruce Trail to see the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls.
Bruce Trail to Balls Falls (From Glen Road)
There’s a small parking lot on the side of Glen Road where the Bruce Trail continues into the forest. I left my car there (it’s also free of charge!) and hiked into the valley of Twenty Mile Creek. If you have the Bruce Trail guide book, this is at kilometre 53.7 of the Niagara Club.
The trail winds down into Twenty Mile Gorge and runs alongside the creek. For the first while, you won’t be able to see the creek, but you’ll start to hear the flowing waters in the distance. Then, Twenty Mile Creek will come into view. The trail itself is slightly challenging in terms of the terrain. While there aren’t any big hills or tricky moments, the trail is covered in jagged rocks and tree roots. You really have to watch your step the entire way because there are major tripping hazards here.
The Stairway Towards Ball’s Falls
Eventually, you will reach a really big staircase that ascends to the top of the escarpment. If you want to see the Lower Falls of Ball’s Falls from down below, don’t take these stairs. Instead, continue following the creek from down below until you reach the waterfall. This isn’t an official hiking trail, so take care and be mindful of the weather conditions (it might get flooded in some seasons).
There are many steps with one landing on the way up. It’s pretty steep, so take care as you climb the stairs. Once you reach the top, you’ll enter the Bert Miller Arboretum. There’s a small pond called Dugout Pond surrounded by plenty of vegetation. It provides a habitat for local wildlife, too.
Another Stairway Heading to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area
Yes, more stairs! This time, the staircase descends from the Bruce Trail to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area itself. You’ll reach the heritage village and the Lower Falls lookout from here. If you want to continue hiking on the Bruce Trail, walk out of the heritage village and hang a right turn over the road bridge. You’ll take another right through a small field and past a vineyard until you see the trail markers to walk back into the forest.
Exploring the Trails at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area
If you’ve never been to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area before, I highly recommend taking the time to fully explore the park and its waterfalls. Here is a fully detailed guide to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area that I’ve written on my blog entirely devoted to hiking called Ontario Hiking. I’ll cover a few main points here and if you’re interested in learning more about the park in depth, I suggest reading my guide at Ontario Hiking.
Hiking Trails at Ball’s Falls
Other than the Bruce Trail, there are two main hiking trails at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area that you’ll want to walk: the Village Trail to Lower Falls and the Cataract Trail to Upper Falls. From the Bruce Trail, you’ll practically run right into the lookout at the Lower Falls. It’s an amazing viewpoint of a beautiful classical waterfall, at two-thirds the height of Niagara Falls.
I also really enjoyed walking around the heritage village and reading all of the historic plaques. There’s a wealth of information here regarding the history of the site, from its rise to its fall. At one point, this space became one of Ontario’s ghost towns until the Niagara Region Conservation Authority gained ownership and turned it into a park.
To get to the Upper Falls, cross the road and make your way over a small pedestrian bridge to the other side of Twenty Mile Creek. Keep walking on this trail and you’ll reach the top of the Upper Falls. You can take an alternate route off the Cataract Trail to see the waterfall from its base, too.
After I hiked around Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, I returned to the Bruce Trail and backtracked to my car on Glen Road. For my next Bruce Trail hike, I’ll start at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area and continue west towards Vineland and Cave Springs. Even though my Bruce Trail hike officially ended at kilometre 55.0 in the guidebook, I did a lot of hiking through the conservation area for a few hours that day.
The Bruce Trail: My Hiking Journey
Here are the stats for my Bruce Trail hikes. Here’s how far I’ve hiked and how far I have to go on my goal to hike the Bruce Trail in its entirety. This also serves as a trail log of my treks. If you’re interested in reading about my past hikes, please check out my Bruce Trail Hiking Page.
Want to read on? Here’s Bruce Trail Hike #11!
|Date||June 12, 2020|
|Location||Map 04 (Ball’s Falls)|
|Distance||1.3km (2.6km in total, out and back)|
|Total Trail Distance||55.0 km (839 km remaining)|
|Start||53.7 Glen Road Parking Lot|
|Finish||Ball’s Falls Conservation Area|