One week later, and we’re ready to hike some more! This time, I have recruited a third person to join in on the fun, my sister, Robyn! Shannon, Robyn and I all started where Shannon and I left off one week prior. On this hike in the Niagara area, we’d pass through the Screaming Tunnel (a haunted tunnel), wander through vineyards, and encounter some unique finds.
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Starting things off, our beginning point might appear to be a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere. Well, it kind of is a dead-end road in the middle of nowhere. But, it also happens to be a point where you can link up directly with the Bruce Trail. Technically, the stretch of trail extends between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, heading towards St. Catharines, Ontario. We end up hiking this path twice in actuality: one way there, and one way back to the car. It ended up being about 12km in total length for the day.
To summarize really quickly, my goal is to hike the entire Bruce Trail throughout Ontario, Canada. It extends from north to south, spanning almost 900km in length. You can read about all of my Bruce Trail hikes to see how far I’ve traveled on my own two feet over the years.
Starting our Niagara Hike
Our journey began when we immediately hiked in the wrong direction. Yes, we started walking down a farmer’s field that had a huge sign reading, “No trespassing!”. Oops. And the only way we figured that we were going the wrong way was when we saw someone jogging on the other side of the fence. It was a big, “Ohhhh…this makes sense” type of moment, so we backtracked and got onto the actual Bruce Trail path.
It was much chillier outside than last week. We had some crazy weather patterns this past summer. For instance, you may recall that on our hike last week, I was wearing shorts and a tank top. And this week, I’m wearing jeans and a jacket. It was breezy, cool, and it even rained a little bit at the end of the hike. However, I thought the weather conditions were optimal: not too hot out, but not too cold. It was pleasant enough to wear a sweater without a coat.
The trees were only starting to change colour, just as they were last week. We saw some splashes of yellow and red leaves, but the trees were mostly green. There were plenty of leaves on the ground. Fall is on its way.
In this spot, there were some “stairs” created with some wooden boards down the hill. This was really helpful. There were less steep places that didn’t have steps that became a little bit slippery as the ground was moist.
Crossing a Major Highway
Next, we reached a clearing and a huge bridge. The bridge actually crosses over top of a main highway, the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). The bridge was built by the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the government in order to link up the trail. Before the bridge, I have no idea how people must have crossed to the other side!
Soon after the bridge, we encountered one of the main attractions of this stretch of the Bruce Trail: The Screaming Tunnel.
The Screaming Tunnel Niagara
The Screaming Tunnel in Niagara Falls is a small, limestone tunnel constructed in the early 1900s that runs beneath some railroad tracks. It was built as a drainage tunnel to remove water from the surrounding farmlands. The farmers also walked through the tunnel to get beyond the railroad tracks. So, how did it get the name, “The Screaming Tunnel”?
As legend goes, the Screaming Tunnel is haunted by the ghost of a young girl. Back in the day, there was a fire in a nearby barn and a young girl with her clothes ablaze died within the tunnel. There is another version of the story where the young girl is set on fire by her angry father after he loses custody of his children. Apparently, if you light a wooden match at the stroke of midnight in the tunnel, you will hear the young girl’s dying screams.
Thankfully, we weren’t there at midnight and couldn’t test this theory. I wouldn’t say that I am the type that believes in ghosts haunting people, but I do still get scared quite easily by my own imagination running wild. The tunnel is haunting, atmosphere, and even a bit creepy. The three of us hiked through the Screaming Tunnel Niagara without any incidents, but I’m not sure I’d want to visit at night. Would you go hiking in a haunted tunnel?
Hiking in Wine Country
Once we escaped the tunnel, we continued along a quiet road in the middle of the country. We enjoyed typical country scenes and even came across a few farm animals. But, as we were in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there were also vineyards. We were in the heart of wine country in the Niagara Region. That meant walking past plenty of grapes growing on the vines on our hike.
A Shoe Tree
Here’s a very interesting sight that I’d never seen before…a shoe tree. Yes, shoes on the side of a tree. Why were they there? Whose shoes were they? I’ve heard of shoe trees before where people toss their old pairs of shoes up into the trees (don’t ask why they do that either). I have never seen a tree with shoes deliberately nailed to the side of a tree trunk. Have you?
Woodend Conservation Area
After walking down Warner Road for a little over a kilometer, we headed back into the forest leading into Woodend Conservation Area. There are numerous side trails that split off from the main trail. As we were following the Bruce Trail, we stuck to those white trail markers on the trees. We enjoyed gorgeous views of the forest and surrounding rock formations of the escarpment. While most of the trees were still green, it wouldn’t be long until they changed color.
And there’s Robyn and Shannon at the end of our hike. This is the spot where we’ll start our next hike!
Post-Hiking Beer & Pub Grub
After a long afternoon of hiking, we were starving. We drove a short distance away to a local pub, the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines. It is a microbrewery and restaurant, and I recommend trying their beer as it’s delicious. There are lots of vegan selections on the menu (which is rather rare for a pub!). We drank beer, ordered some “meatless wings”, and I ordered a soy chicken quesadilla with vegan cheese.
I highly recommend checking the restaurant out if you’re in the St. Catharines area. Plus, they have lots of live music there on the weekends. Many years ago, I used to play guitar and keyboard in a band, and my old band played a few shows at the Merchant Ale House.
If you go hiking on this section of the Bruce Trail, you’ll encounter haunted tunnels, peaceful vineyards, and a very random work of art. It certainly makes for an interesting day! We all thoroughly enjoyed our encounters with the Screaming Tunnel, even though we didn’t end up meeting a creepy ghost child.
|Date||October 5, 2014|
|Location||Map 02, St. Catharines|
|Distance||6.2km (x2 = 12.4km)|
|Total Trail Distance||15.2km (878.8km remaining)|
|Start||9.0 Mewburn Rd.|
|Finish||15.2 Taylor Rd.|