With legs feeling like jelly, quivering from exhaustion, and my ankle joints in pain, I kept on climbing over limestone rocks and tree roots on the Bruce Trail near Hilton Falls. I was hiking a section of the Iroquoia area of the Trail just east of Hilton Falls Conservation Area with my husband Frank.
With it being Fall, the trail was covered in leaves, slightly damp from dew and a light rainfall from a couple days before.
At the start of our excursion, what I didn’t know was that my husband’s goal of reaching the pedestrian bridge over the road leading into the Dufferin Aggregates Quarry would be a 14 km round trip on this trail. Holy moly! A fantastic workout with great views on a trail few people hiked on is like finding the Holy Grail of hiking experiences.
Watch Your Step
In my lifetime I’ve hiked various sections of the Bruce Trail, but usually in small doses. For the most part the trails are rocky and full of tree roots ready to trip you if your feet get lazy and you aren’t paying attention.
This excursion on the Bruce Trail near Hilton Falls was a challenge, heading up the side of the Niagara Escarpment to the top with the trail stretching along the edge. In sections, one misstep would mean a disastrous fall off the Escarpment.
What made our fall hike a bit more dangerous was the carpet of leaves, some of which were a bit wet from the previous day’s rainfall. We stuck to the part of the trail that was away from the edge, even when taking photos. The perfect shot is not worth it if you are putting yourself in potential danger.
Be Aware of the Beauty Around You
Many of the trees on this part of the Bruce Trail are deciduous (maple, oak) with some conifers – mostly cedars. At the height of the Fall season, this part of the Iroquoia section of the Trail is full of gold, orange and occasionally the red-coloured leaves.
While focusing on the obstacles on the ground is so important to your safety, taking a moment to look up and view the colourful scenes around you and above you is a must-do.
Expect to Get a Workout
Unless you are hiking on a regular basis and are a Stepmaster fanatic, you can expect to feel the burn after several kilometres on this part of the trail.
It all depends on how far you go as well. My husband’s desire to reach the bridge over the quarry meant we were walking hard, farther than usual. Anytime you are walking over uneven ground, your muscles in your legs, feet and ankles get a workout as they work to keep you on balance and not tripping.
Stripping and Dressing Up on the Trail
Caught your attention.. that stripping part, didn’t it? Get your mind out of the gully!
The day of our Fall hike was a cool 5 C morning that was slowly inching up to a “balmy” 12 C – you’d think that when doing a fast-paced, demanding hike that you’d want to dress lightly you may be fooling yourself.
Sections of the Bruce Trail were within the woods, while other parts were in open fields and atop of exposed hills with a brisk breeze whipping up your fine hairs and cooling your lightly sweaty skin.
The rule of thumb is this – when there’s a chill breeze and you’ve been doing any sort of strenuous, sweat-inducing workout, you want to have a piece of clothing to put on over top. You don’t want to “get a chill.”
This is why my several layers on the hike, including a beanie cap, were so important. You can always remove a cap if you get hot and put it back on when the chill gets to you. Wearing moisture wicking clothing is a great solution to days when you know you will sweat and get a potential chill.
Why is it important to have layers and keep warm? You don’t want the result of your hike be a cold or something worse… after all, your goal is fitness not a quick way to getting sick.
When Hilton Falls is Busy
Hilton Falls has become a very popular trail for locals and nature-seeking Torontonians. I recommend getting of the beaten path and onto the more rugged Bruce Trail to take in the scenery. Few people can be found on this trail, that starts on the east side of the parking lot, just past a row of rhododendrons.
You will have to pay for entry into Hilton Falls and to use the parking lot ($6.75 for adults), but the cost is worth the views, the time spent outdoors in nature and the exercise you get for a few hours.
4985 Campbellville Road
More information on the Conservation Halton website.