Hiking the Bruce Trail: Louth Conservation Area and Bruce Trail Niagara Club (Hike #9)

Hiking the Bruce Trail to Louth Conservation Area

A continuation of my journey along the Bruce Trail in Ontario.

Finally, I’ve hit the trails again! It’s been way too long. That isn’t to say that I haven’t been hiking in a while, but it’s been a year and a half since I hiked the Bruce Trail. I have the goal of hiking the Bruce Trail in its entirety, from Niagara to Tobermory. That’s almost 900 km of connected hiking trails that spans one end of southern Ontario to the other. This will take years and years and I will happily slowly savor the journey. Some people choose to hike the Bruce Trail as fast as they can or to trek the trail over a month’s time. For my busy lifestyle, I think it’s more realistic to go for walks and hikes whenever I can now and again.

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Bruce Trail Niagara Club

I started walking the Bruce Trail in the Niagara region because it’s closest to home. The Bruce Trail is divided up into several clubs or sections. The Bruce Trail Niagara Club’s trails meander from Queenston to Grimbsy. All in all, there are 80 km of hiking trails in the Bruce Trail Niagara section, meaning I’m more than halfway done.

When you complete a section of the trail or the entire Bruce Trail end to end, you can request trail badges from the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Hopefully it will only be a few more hikes and I can request my Niagara End to End badge! Once I start earning more badges, I’m sure I’ll have a section on the blog devoted to them. Until then, I’m working hard to earn my very first trail badge.

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Map of the Bruce Trail: Hike #9

I like to visually post photos of maps of the Bruce Trail to show my hiking trip. I track my hikes through the Bruce Trail reference guide. However, I’ve also downloaded the app (for Android), and it’s also available at the Apple Store for iPhone. You can see updated to the Bruce Trail reference book online, but it’s even easier with the app that updates on its own. My hike started at Rockway Conservation Area, traveled through Louth Conservation Area, and ended right before reaching Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. This meant that I walked through the end of Map 3 (Short Hills, Niagara Club) and onto Map 4 (Ball’s Falls, Niagara Club).

Bruce Trail Hike #9 - End of Map 03 Niagara Club
Bruce Trail Hike #9 - Beginning of Map 4 Niagara Club

The Bruce Trail Hike Starts at Rockway Conservation Area

I started my hike at the entrance to Rockway Conservation Area, precisely where I ended my last trek. There’s a large parking lot at the Rockway Community Centre where day trippers and hikers park their cars to hit the trails. The Bruce Trail winds through a lot of Ontario Conservation Areas, so it’s wonderful to visit green spaces in the province that I might otherwise not have visited.

Rockway Community Centre for the Bruce Trail hike

Once you enter the path, you’ll see a rocky gorge to your left. It’s a little tricky to see with so many trees in the way. During times of higher rainfall, I’m sure there will be some water trickling over the edge. On this hot, summer day, there wasn’t any inkling of a waterfall. Even at some points on the journey where there was to be a small creek, the water had completely dried up.

Rockway Conservation Area gorge - Bruce Trail hiking

Rockway Conservation Area and Getting Lost

It’s really easy to hike around Rockway Conservation Area by taking the Rockway Falls Side Trail. The Rockway Falls Side Trail branches off the main Bruce Trail path and does a full loop back to the Bruce Trail. However, if you want to keep following the Bruce Trail, you must follow the white blazes and not the blue blazes.

Rockway Falls Side Trail and Bruce Trail at Rockway Conservation Area

This is where it gets a little bit confusing. I figured that the two white blazes in the photo above meant to veer straight ahead, which was to the left of the tree? Wrong. That’s actually following the blue blaze that’s above it. Silly me! I hiked along a good portion of the Rockway Falls Side Trail until I realized that I was no longer seeing any white marks on the trees. I backtracked and sorted out where I went wrong. The main Bruce Trail path becomes quite small, but you can see some white marks on skinny trees beside the path.

Rockway Side Trail blue blazes path
White blazes of the Bruce Trail in Rockway Conservation Area

Do you hear gun shots?

Right from the start of hiking the Bruce Trail that day, I heard sounds off in the distance. Boom! What the heck was that? Boom! Was it fireworks? Boom! But, it was the middle of the day. It almost sounds like…gun shots.

After looking on Google maps on my phone, I discovered that the Maple Leaf Marksmen Rifle & Revolver Club was right near the Rockway Conservation Area. Were those sounds possibly coming from the nearby gun club?

I kept hearing them all the way to Louth Conservation Area and nearly to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. That’s a little far from the rifle club. Since I first wrote this article, I shared it with the members of the Bruce Trail Facebook group, and I learned that the sounds were likely air cannons at the nearby wineries used to scare away birds.

Bruce Trail hike through Rockway Conservation Area
Bruce Trail hiking - The Niagara Club
Mushrooms growing on a dead tree log on the Bruce Trail

Little Wooden Bridges

On this Bruce Trail Niagara club hike, there were several small wooden bridges that pass over creeks and running water. You can see that there isn’t any water here in the middle of the summer. The riverbed has completely dried up. I’m sure that isn’t the case during the spring thaw.

Bridges on the Bruce Trail
Dried up creek on the Bruce Trail in Rockway Conservation Area

Hiking to Louth Conservation Area

Once I walked through the remaining parts of Rockway Conservation Area, I had to cross a road to the next area between Rockway and Louth Conservation Areas. The Bruce Trail gets quite overgrown here. I don’t imagine that this section of the trail is very popular. In fact, even on a sunny and beautiful Sunday afternoon in the summer, I didn’t encounter a single other hiker!

At times, it was difficult to see the path as it was overgrown with plants. While wearing sunscreen is something I’d recommend for many parts of the trail, I highly recommend spraying any exposed skin with bug spray before hiking here. There’s always a potential for ticks to be present in the forest. This section of trail involves walking through denser trails with plants rubbing up against your arms and legs at times. It’s better to be safe! And while we’re talking about things to bring when you go hiking, don’t forget to bring a water bottle!

Crossing the road to continue the Bruce Trail
Between Rockway Conservation Area and Louth Conservation Area on the Bruce Trail

Private Property on the Bruce Trail

On some occasions the Bruce Trail path travels through Ontario conservation areas and land owned by the Bruce Trail Conservancy. In order to connect this path from Niagara to Tobermory, the trail sometimes goes through private property. It’s up to the landowners whether or not to allow hikers to trek through their property. On many occasions, there are no incidents and the property owners have no issues with hikers. But, if people cause trouble on their land, they might revoke the rights for hikers to set foot on their land. In these cases, the Bruce Trail must be rerouted through other land. Many times, this means hiking on far less scenic areas like country roads.

The Bruce Trail and private property

On this stretch of private land, I came across a sign with a picture of a dog on it. I suppose that there must be a dog living nearby that likes to run around through the forest. If you encounter this dog named Bogey, he has an intense sounding bark but he’s actually quite sweet. Their only request? That you don’t feed Bogey as he’s on a diet!

Bogey the dog sign on the Bruce Trail Niagara

Reroutes of the Bruce Trail

It’s always a good idea to follow the white blazes on the path. The Bruce Trail guidebook and app do make this easier, although I know that my Bruce Trail reference guide is a little out of date. On many occasions, there are reroutes of the Bruce Trail due to ecological reasons or private property owners revoking the rights for hikers to use them. The blazes are completely up to date on this section of the trail, although there are little reminders that the trail has been rerouted.

Bruce Trail Reroute Signs
Beautiful forest and reroute of the Bruce Trail in Niagara
Hiking the Bruce Trail in Ontario
Trail closed on the Bruce Trail

Louth Conservation Area

You will know when you reach the Louth Conservation Area. The trail becomes much wider and groomed. There aren’t as many plants growing into the path, and you’ll have lots of space to stretch out on the trail. The Louth Conservation Area doesn’t have a lot of hiking trails, but you can take the Louth Side Trail to extend your hike. Otherwise, feel free to stick to the Bruce Trail to continue on your way.

Bridge at Louth Conservation Area in Ontario
Log cut in half on the path - Louth Conservation Area

Louth Falls

A main feature of Louth Conservation Area is Louth Falls. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there wasn’t a waterfall there when I visited at the end of August. Louth Falls almost completely dried up, though I could see some damp patches on the rocks. I’m sure this waterfall looks quite brilliant in the spring. If you’re seeking waterfalls on the Bruce Trail, spring and early summer could be the best times to visit.

Louth Falls in the summer - Louth Conservation Area
Plaque honouring J. Lloyd Oliver on the Bruce Trail

Plants, Mushrooms and Wild Flowers

I saw quite a bit of interesting flora on this Bruce Trail hike. There were many mushrooms growing all around. I also saw lots of different wildflowers and berries growing. Please be kind to the natural environment and don’t pick anything. And definitely don’t eat anything! Leave no trace when you hike, simply take photos and admire.

White berries on the Bruce Trail
Berries on the Bruce Trail
Mushrooms on the Bruce Trail
Wildflowers on the Bruce Trail
Flowers on the Bruce Trail

Seventeenth Street and Hiking by Vineyards

Eventually, you’ll come out to a clearing and a road by some farms. I soon discovered that this was actually a vineyard: the Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. While I didn’t stop for any wine tastings, I had no idea that this winery was there. I’d love to pop by in the future to try it!

Wine country and the Bruce Trail
Vineyards while hiking in Niagara wine region
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery entrance on the hiking trail

The next section is a walk up Seventeenth Street, which is essentially a country road. This road can get a little bit busy, so make sure you’re well off to the side of the road when you’re hiking. You’ll walk past the Shangri-La Niagara Family Campground and eventually will see a sign denoting the Bruce Trail on the right side of the road. The entrance to the next wooded path is on your left.

The Bruce Trail on Seventeenth Street in Jordan, Ontario
Bruce Trail Crossing Ahead sign on Seventeenth Street
Access to the Bruce Trail in Jordan Ontario

From Seventeenth Street to Glen Road

There’s another green space that you’ll hike through here, along with another opportunity to take a side trail for even more hiking. If you feel like veering off the Bruce Trail, feel free to explore the Jim Rainforth Side Trail. This trail used to be called the Jordan Side Trail, and it used to wind through different land. Please see the Bruce Trail website for the current path of the Jim Rainforth Side Trail.

Jordan hiking trails - Jordan, Ontario
Jim Rainforth Side Trail on the Bruce Trail
From Seventeenth Street to Glen Road on the Bruce Trail
A bridge in memory of Tys Murre from the Bruce Trail Conservancy

Crossing Nineteenth Street

There’s one more street crossing that you’ll make before reaching Glen Road, the place where I stopped hiking for the day. You’ll have to be on the lookout for the white blazes to find where the Bruce Trail continues.

White blazes crossing Nineteenth Street in Jordan Ontario for Bruce Trail
Hiking through the forest in Ontario

Finishing the Hike at Glen Road

I always complete my hikes where there’s a parking lot. That’s where I’ll park my car at the start of the next hike. There’s room for a few cars here at Glen Road. This marks an eastern entrance to the Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. I’ve never been there before, and I’ve heard that the waterfall is gorgeous. I’m really looking forward to this for Bruce Trail Hike #10, hopefully coming soon!

Glen Road parking area for the Bruce Trail

So, how did I get back to my car without hiking all the way back? Thankfully, Uber is available in this area. I requested an Uber, and it took about 15 minutes for my car to arrive. Please note that Uber might not always be available here. I didn’t have any trouble getting picked up, but my driver informed me that it’s too far for some Uber drivers to travel and they’ll cancel the ride. Ubers are also difficult to order here at night, so please take that into consideration.

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.

Hike #9
DateAugust 25, 2019
LocationMap 03 (Short Hills) and Map 04 (Ball’s Falls)
Distance8.6km
Total Trail Distance53.7 km (840.3 km remaining)
StartRockway Road Parking Lot
Finish53.7 Glen Road Parking Lot

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Have you hiked the Bruce Trail yet? What’s your favorite hiking trail?

4 Responses

  1. Veronika
    | Reply

    I love your Bruce Trail blogs. It really is a provincial treasure! When you’re in Lincoln( just voted the 21st best community in Canada) you’re in my stomping grounds. Sue Ann and her mom Wendy are so welcoming making the Sue Ann Staff winery a great stop. I spent a lot of time on nineteenth street because my cousins lived there and we would roam the countryside for hours. Every Sunday in the summer my whole extended family would gather for a BBQ at Ball’s Falls and spend the afternoon swimming and running up and down to the Upper and Lower Falls. I think I’ve given you the heads up before but Rev A Lee café in Vineland makes a great place for a fabulous vegan breakfast. (Warning: On the weekends it’s tough to get in before 1pm. They close at 3pm) Thanks again for highlighting this natural treasure!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Thank you SO much for all of the amazing advice, Veronika!! I’m looking forward to continuing my hikes. I’d love to stop at the winery you mentioned, and that vegan breakfast sounds fab, too! I’ll definitely take your recommendations on my upcoming hikes!

  2. Greg
    | Reply

    Hello,

    Just wanted to say hello and thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos on the blog. Nice to know I’m not the only one who is doing a very gradual end to end. I started in 2008 but have not been out every year due to life and family commitments – last year was my “best” effort in that I hiked 3 times. I’m currently midway through the Toronto section – hoping to make a new record this year for 4 or more hikes before the warmer seasons end.

    Anyway, have fun and perhaps see you out on the trails!

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Greg, yes for gradual end to end hikes! It’s a very long term goal as I’m only able to do a few hikes a year, but I do also hope to get out there and hike a couple more times before winter arrives. I can’t wait until I get to the Toronto section because that will mean less driving for me / closer to home! Haha! Have fun on the trails!

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