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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SHORT HILLS PROVINCIAL PARK
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.
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!
|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|
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