In the early afternoon this past Sunday, I was busily working away at my computer when I received a call from my brother, Clayton. He was planning to take his children on a hike to Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Campbellville and wondered if we would like to come along. Hilton Falls Conservation Area is on the list of World Biosphere Reserves as part of the Niagara Escarpment.
As I gazed out the window at the rather dreary day and wet windowpane, I wondered if it was such a great day for a hike, however after a short discussion with Louis, we decided to take Clayton up on his offer.
Hilton Falls Conservation Area is a short drive from Oakville and Burlington. It took us about 20 minutes to get there and as we drove down beautiful country roads and up over the Niagara Escarpment, I couldn't help but marvel at what an intriguing area the Golden Horseshoe is.
The Niagara Escarpment lends so much diversity and natural beauty to the region that one never has to go far to view stunning vistas or gaze in awe at the magnificent rock formations.
Hilton Falls Conservation Area is a 645 hectare park that runs along the Niagara Escarpment.
As a Provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and also a World Biosphere Reserve, it is a place of refuge for a diverse array of plant and animal life.
The trails are extremely well groomed and easy to walk.
Hilton Falls welcomes hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers and the 33 km of trails are sure to leave the visitor looking forward to coming again.
We enjoyed a refreshing hike to the falls and the historic mill site and I took particular delight in observing the forest floor where a variety of spring wildflowers were putting on a show.
It seems that not everyone gets as excited as I do over a pair of Wakerobins in bloom, however I don't mind that at all.
I believe I must have been an herbalist or medicine woman in a past life and those who hike along with me seem to enjoy my chatter about the native uses of our indigenous plants. At least they appear to be interested!
As we hiked along, the sun broke through and the wind died down. My nephews and niece ran ahead in excitement as they made discoveries of giant fallen branches with the rushing sounds of the falls in the distance calling to them.
Near the falls there is firepit stocked with firewood where a weary traveller or group could rest while dinner cooked or get warm on a wintry day.
Dogs are allowed, as long as they are kept on a leash no longer than 2 metres.
Here are more pictures from this rejuvenating piece of paradise:
Bloodroot in bloom. The natives used the orange sap from Bloodroot as an antiseptic and dye.
Wild Columbines just about to bloom.
Three little hikers, my nephews and niece, lead the way down the well groomed trails at Hilton Falls Conservation Area.
A sinkhole at Hilton Falls. Sinkholes were formed when the pressure exerted by glaciers on rocks swirling in water, wore deep round impressions in the limestone.
The pioneers made use of the water pressure formed by falling water and built mills. Here are the remnants of an old mill at the Hilton Falls site.
Trout Lily leaves carpet the forest floor. Trout Lillies are so named because of the mottled appearance of their leaves. Soon dainty yellow flowers will bloom above the beautifully patterned leaves.
Strange and mysterious, the Mayapples draw the eye with their striking appearance as they near their blooming period.
The plants grow in groups and the flower must be searched for under the leaf canopy.
The Mayapple fruit is edible when completely ripe, however all other parts of the plant are extremely toxic.
Indigenous people used a tincture of the plant as an insecticide.
Rivulets of fresh, clean water, from Sixteen Mile Creek, cascade downwards as they make their way to the rushing stream below.
My nephews lay claim to the title 'Kings of the Forest'.
This astounding area is unique in all of North America as four species of salamanders can be found in it's wet pools and under damp rocks.
Nature lovers will enjoy viewing over 100 varieties of plants and numerous unusual mammals such as the Northern Flying Squirrel and the American Water Shrew.
If you live in Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga, Guelph or Hamilton, Hilton Falls is just a short drive away.
Enjoy a peaceful day hiking and wrap up your visit with a barbecue (barbecues and picnic tables are provided) as you relish in the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Visitors to our region should make sure to take time out for a daytrip to this UNESCO site where wilderness that once could be found throughout the Golden Horseshoe area, may still be found.
Jo-Anne Smith, the author of this article, is a REALTOR® with Brekland Realty Group., Oakville, Ontario and welcomes your real estate inquiries. To contact her, visit www.Oakville-BurlingtonHomes.com