Balls Falls Conservation Area

My inaugural blog post from Canada! A quick two-week trip to Toronto means a pause in Hong Kong hiking, but the cold and snow of a Canadian winter shouldn’t prevent a good trek on some local trails. And so I headed out this weekend with my foodie friends to the Balls Falls Conservation Area, about an hour’s drive from Toronto near St. Catharines. The weather was perfect – sunny and crisp with blue skies, and while cold, there was no windchill. Toronto has been going through a pretty tough winter this year (or so I’m told 🙂 ), so it was good to catch a break.

The hike tracked in Runkeeper.

The hike tracked in Runkeeper.

The conservation area is part of the Niagara Escarpment that spans southern Ontario from Niagara Peninsula on Lake Ontario to Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron. There are a myriad of trails (many of which I plan to explore this summer), the most famous being the Bruce Trail. The hike today along the Twenty Valley trail is actually part of the larger Bruce Trail.

Balls Falls consists of the Upper and Lower Falls along Twenty Mile Creek, and a number of heritage buildings have been preserved on the site. The Twenty Valley Trail is a short but steep and rocky descent alongside the creek, and can be a bit tricky in the snow. It then follows the creek before continuing as the Bruce Trail, and you can loop back to the starting point via a paved road. In terms of elevation changes, there really aren’t any – however walking through some areas with knee-deep snow can present its own challenges. You can rent snowshoes at the conservation centre, although they really aren’t needed.

Click on the photos for a larger version.

Balls Falls

The Upper Falls now just a trickle of water, the rest frozen solid.

Balls Falls

The ruins of Woollen Mill.

Balls Falls

Rocky outcrops typical of the Niagara Escarpment.

Balls Falls

Felled trees in the dense woods.

Balls Falls

Most of the trail is well-maintained. If preferred, you can rent snow shoes at the conservation centre.

Balls Falls

In some areas, the snow can be quite deep.

Balls Falls

A rest area near the heritage site.

Balls Falls

Twenty Creek, frozen over.

Balls Falls

Pedestrian bridge over the creek.

Balls Falls

Church at Balls Falls.

Balls Falls

Fairchild Cabin.

Balls Falls

Furry Cabin.

Balls Falls

The Grist Mill.

Balls Falls

The Blacksmith Shop.

Balls Falls

The Lower Falls, mostly frozen.

Balls Falls

The gorge at the Lower Falls.

Balls Falls

Luckily we had great hiking weather today.

Balls Falls

A beautiful smooth white tree.

Balls Falls

Up these stairs toward the Twenty Valley Trail.

Twenty Valley

The trailhead where the initial section is a very steep descent into the valley.

Twenty Valley

The trail is snow-covered, but clearly marked on the trees.

Twenty Valley

Looping back from the trail, we follow a paved road next to farms and vineyards.

Twenty Valley

Typical Niagara vineyard.

Twenty Valley

Roadside mailboxes along the return route.

Twenty Valley

After about 5km, it was back to the starting point.

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Let me know.

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