Leaving off from where my last hike ended in Niagara wine country, I forged ahead for Bruce Trail hike #12. Specifically, I finished my hike at the 60.4km point in the Bruce Trail guidebook at Cherry Avenue in Lincoln, Ontario. The majority of this next hike winds through Cave Springs Conservation Area, as well as some of the surrounding areas.
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Why I Didn’t Start my Hike at Cherry Ave
This was the first time on the trail that I didn’t hike directly from where I left off. You see, between Ball’s Falls Conservation Area and Quarry Road (just beyond Cave Springs), there is nowhere to park your car. So, you have a couple of options.
You can hike directly from Ball’s Falls Conservation Area to Quarry Road (a 10km hike). In my case, I hike by myself quite frequently and end up hiking the trail twice: once to my end point, and in reverse back to the car. If I was hiking with a partner and take two cars (one to leave at the start, and one to leave at the end), I’d hike the whole thing in one go.
There’s also the option of taking an Uber from your end point back to the start. I did this once last year on a hike. But, this region isn’t really near any major towns, so I got the feeling that calling an Uber might be more difficult or not possible.
So, I split this 10km hike into two sections: one from Ball’s Falls to Cherry Avenue, and one from Cherry Avenue to Quarry Road. As there’s nowhere to park around Cherry Avenue, I ended up parking my car at the end point (Quarry Road), hiking to Cherry Avenue, and returning back to Quarry Road. It was my first time hiking the trail in the reverse direction. But, it doesn’t matter at all because I’m still hiking the stretch of trail that I need to complete my end-to-end journey.
My Hiking Route for Hike #12
As you can see, I hiked between Quarry Road and Cherry Avenue in the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail. A large portion of the hike goes through Cave Springs Conservation Area. I’d rate this hike as a medium difficulty, depending on the conditions. If you are hiking in the early winter or any kind of muddy season like I did, it edges closer to a difficult rating. I’ll soon explain why that is.
There is a small area at the side of Quarry Road for parking as marked by the “P” on the map at the 65.0km mark. The parking lot fits about five cars and it is free to park. When I arrived on a weekday afternoon on a chilly day, there were already a few cars in this little parking area. It’s possible that you might not be able to park there. If that’s the case, you can park your car at Kinsmen Park at the 66.9km point and you’ll just need to add a couple more kilometres to your journey.
Hiking To Cave Springs Conservation Area
Starting at Quarry Road, I backtracked on the Bruce Trail and entered the path at the side of the road. Between Quarry Road and Cave Springs Conservation Area, the hike is a relatively flat path. You will walk across lots of rocks and gnarly tree roots, so it is important to watch your step.
I hiked at the end of November, so mostly all the leaves had fallen from the trees. The ground was covered in orange and brown dead leaves, as well as the green moss that covered much of the rocks. It’s still very pretty this time of year. As this portion of the hike is at a higher elevation, I didn’t find that it was very muddy.
Cave Springs Conservation Area
Eventually, you’ll reach Cave Springs Conservation Area. This natural space does not get a lot of attention or foot traffic. There isn’t a parking lot for Cave Springs, so it’s not as easy to reach as other places to hike in Niagara. There also aren’t any restroom facilities. You’ll need to follow the Bruce Trail to reach Cave Springs Conservation Area. The area itself is super interesting and offers beautiful views, so it’s definitely worth the trip. It’s likely that Cave Springs is mostly visited by Bruce Trail hikers.
According to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority website, this area is steeped in cultural folklore and mystique, as well as natural diversity. You’ll first notice that your hike follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, offering pretty views overlooking vineyards and farms that extend towards Lake Ontario. There’s also a rich diversity of plants and animals in this bedrock and Sugar Maple forest.
The late Margaret Reed donated this property to the NPCA, and she noted that the area has several interesting features. First, there was once a famous ice cave, known for its refrigeration properties. Unfortunately, the cave is now blocked in and not accessible. Next, the springs at Cave Springs are mentioned in folklore as a “fountain of youth”. In terms of the history of the area, it was once used as a hideout during the war, there’s an underground lake, and there are apparently some rock carvings, too. I didn’t see any of the carvings on my hike, have you?
Please note that there are a few other trails through Cave Springs Conservation Area. If you want to stick to the Bruce Trail, follow the white blazes. You’ll need to pay a little extra attention in this area as it’s easy to follow the wrong trail if you get distracted.
The First Bruce Trail Blaze
At Cave Springs Conservation Area, I came upon a sign placed by the Bruce Trail Conservancy. It states that on March 25, 1962, the first blaze on what was to become the Bruce Trail was placed there. Members of the Niagara Escarpment Trail Council placed the blaze on the farm of Delby Bucknall.
It was really cool to stumble upon this little piece of Bruce Trail history on my hike! I love little landmarks and pieces of history like this.
Hiking Between Cave Springs and Cherry Ave
Now, this is where the hike gets…interesting. At the edge of Cave Springs Conservation Area, there’s a really big hill that descends down into the valley below. When I hiked there in late November, this hill was extremely muddy. When you put your foot down, it not only sinks into the mud, but it slides down the hill a bit.
As I stood at the top of the hill, there was a fellow hiker making his way up the hill. He was struggling, big time. He warned me about the hike ahead. It was going to be an extremely muddy and slippery trek. He actually told me that I should attempt it at all, and that it’s taken him a few attempts to try to get up the hill!
I’m a pretty stubborn person, and there wasn’t any way that I was going to abandon this section of the hike. I want to complete my end-to-end, and I didn’t want to have to return to attempt hiking here in the future when it might be just as troublesome. Facing this really muddy hill, I decided to go for it.
In hindsight, hiking poles are an excellent idea here. I actually don’t own any hiking poles. After this hike, I will be investing in a pair. Thinking on my toes, I looked for a big stick that I could use to keep myself from slipping down the hill. With every step, I planted a big stick into the mud ahead of me to keep myself from rolling down the hill.
Success! I didn’t manage to slip in the mud once! I was pretty impressed with myself. Once I reached the bottom of the escarpment, the hiking trail was still really muddy. But, there weren’t too many hills so I didn’t slide around too much. Thank goodness for my waterproof hiking boots. My feet stayed dry and I managed to stay pretty firmly planed on the ground for the rest of the trek.
On the way back to the car, I opted to follow the country roads instead of the trail between Cherry Road and Cave Springs Conservation Area. While this was a pretty boring option, I didn’t want to attempt hiking up that muddy hill again. While there aren’t any sidewalks in this area, there also aren’t many cars. It took a little longer to walk back to the car and it definitely wasn’t exciting.
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.
|Date||November 27, 2020|
|Location||Map 04 (Ball’s Falls)|
|Total Trail Distance||65.0 km (829 km remaining)|
|Finish||65.0 Quarry Rd|
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