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Bruce Trail Hike #6 – DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill

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This blog post follows a series of Bruce Trail Hikes as I attempt to hike the entire Bruce Trail, 900km of preserved trail paths in Southern Ontario, Canada.

To catch up on my past hikes and adventures, please check out my Bruce Trail Hiking Page.

Picking up from where I left off on my fifth Bruce Trail hike, I started at DeCew House Park in St. Catharines, Ontario. My sister, Robyn, joined me on the hike. She’s hiked the last few ones with me, so I’m hoping that she’ll continue and eventually complete the trail with me.

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Decew Falls

We picked a real scorcher of a day to go for a hike. The sun was shining brightly. At the beginning of this hike, there weren’t many shady sections. We hiked around Lake Moodie with the blazing sunlight beating down. Within moments, I was dripping with sweat.


Lake Moodie is a man-made reservoir, supplying water to nearby hydroelectric plants. The water comes from Lake Erie via the Welland Canal. Due to changing water levels and currents, swimming and boating are not allowed. Though breaking the rules and jumping in the lake was certainly tempting. We settled for admiring the views of the wildlife from the shore, including watching the geese, ducks, and swans wade in the water.

Bruce Trail Hike #6

Bruce Trail Hike #6

Bruce Trail Hike #6

Soon enough, there was some relief in the form of shade. We didn’t have to worry about the path being too muddy, like in previous hikes. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and rain had not fallen for a while. Thankfully, there weren’t any pesky bugs or warnings of ticks that we’d encountered on past hikes.

Bruce Trail Hike #6

Bruce Trail Hike #6

We started to hear the sound of rushing water. As we forged ahead, it got louder and louder. We couldn’t see much beyond the path itself. There was a steep gorge beyond the trees to my right. Before long, we reached a small wooden gate. Walking through it…


Morningstar Mill is a restored 19th century gristmill, built beside DeCew Falls. It’s the only functional water powered mill in the Niagara region. It’s also one of the first milling operations in the country to be powered by a turbine rather than a traditional waterwheel. The Miller’s House is completely restored, containing a lovely garden. We enjoyed stumbling upon a piece of our province’s history on our hike.

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Morningstar Mill

Restored Cottage


Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Morningstar Mill

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Morningstar Mill

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Morningstar Mill

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Morningstar Mill


We observed DeCew Falls easily from the top of the gorge at Morningstar Mill. The water flows over the edge of the gorge behind the mill. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a perspective on exactly how far the water drops below. From the top, we weren’t able to see the bottom of the waterfall due to a chain-link fence. We didn’t see a way to hike down to the bottom of the gorge either. Apparently, it’s pretty dangerous to try to hike down the escarpment to access the base of the waterfall. For those that make it to the bottom, many aren’t able to hike back up and get stuck down there. In a few situations, an emergency rescue team had to help some hikers get out of the gorge. Even though I’m pretty adventurous, I’m not that adventurous. I really didn’t feel like falling down a cliff or getting stuck at the bottom of a gorge.

Between 1890 and 1910, there was a spiral staircase that wrapped around a tree trunk. This allowed people to climb down to the bottom of the escarpment. However, it was pretty dangerous and was eventually torn down.

We caught some safe glimpses of DeCew Falls before continuing on our hike, following the white blazes of the Bruce Trail.

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - DeCew Falls

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - DeCew Falls

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - DeCew Falls


With the exception of hiking down one paved road, we were walking through the forest from this moment on. The Bruce Trail meandered through Short Hills Provincial Park. It was my first time visiting this protected section of the greenbelt – I didn’t even know it existed until now. Short Hills Provincial Park is the largest park in the Niagara Region. That’s one thing that I truly love about this journey of hiking the Bruce Trail: I discover so many natural areas close to home that I never knew about.

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Short Hills Provincial Park

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Short Hills Provincial Park

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Short Hills Provincial Park

Bruce Trail Hike #6 - Short Hills Provincial Park

We will start our hike here next time!


We really didn’t tackle too much of Short Hills Provincial Park. We’ll save that for next time. The heat was getting to us, so we turned around and hiked back to the car. As per our tradition, we went out for vegan nachos, meatless wings, and cold beers at the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines. I may or may not have run through a random sprinkler on the way back. Don’t judge – it was REALLY hot out there!

Hike # 6
Date June 17, 2016
Location Map 03, Thorold
Distance 5.2km (x2 = 10.4km)
Total Trail Distance 35 km (859km remaining)
Start 29.8 Decew House Park
Finish 35.0 Short Hills Provincial Park parking lot


[mapsmarker layer=”13″]


Bruce Trail Hiking - Ontario, Canada. Hike #6 - DeCew Falls and Morningstar Mill.

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Sunday 5th of May 2019

Hi! I'm from St. Catharines and I just wanted to let you know that it is very possible to get down to the base of the waterfall. There is a hiking path that is easy-medium difficulty. It is a really gorgeous hike (Just be sure to bring a towel)! I have hiked there many times with many different people of different hiking abilities and I've never had any trouble. I have really enjoyed reading your posts and I hope you continue on with your journey!


Monday 6th of May 2019

Cassandra, that's amazing! I have seen photos from the bottom so often wondered how people got down there. I'll have to return and get down there for better views of the waterfall. Thanks for letting me know! :)


Friday 30th of June 2017

i've enjoyed reading your post on hiking the Bruce Trail! Are you guys still hiking the trail?

Nika Jane

Thursday 7th of July 2016

Hi, Lauren.This is the essence of nature. Clean and green. Thanks for sharing us your adventure. This might not too beautiful compared to other adventure but sometimes it's good to recoup our soul to nature and wander along the lake.

Barbara Radisavljevic

Tuesday 5th of July 2016

It's beautiful country, and from the photos you can't tell how hot it is. There is so much gorgeous scenery I'll probably never see in this world. Thanks for sharing yours so I can at least see it second-hand.

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