Rock Chapel Falls is nestled in North Hamilton on Highway 5, near where it crosses Highway 6. Getting there is relatively easy from the QEW highway.
Pulling into the parking lot, the park seems uninteresting. A small gravel lot with a dozen cars, and of course a ticket wicket to pay for parking. There is also a sign which states to keep your dog on a leash at all times.
This small conservation area is crossed by the world famous Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail, however does not dare venture into the gorge itself. Too dangerous. This conservation are has three distinct habitats located within it. The trail starts at the upper plateau. This area has a Cliff face habitat, followed by a Talus slope.
My goal was to reach the base of the waterfall. This could not be accomplished by simply following a trail. Most main trails have a habit of keeping you away from the fun, in order to ensure your safety. I would be sure to seek a side trail which would lead me to the base of the gorge, and follow it to the waterfall.
A steep, windy pathway led from the upper plateau past the cliff face. The path was narrow and damp. There was a lot of broken glass which slowed me down with bare feet. The base of the gorge revealed a large series of boulders, rocks, and trees cut in half by the river. This would be the pathway to the base of Rock Chapel Falls.
I love waterfalls. I especially love standing at the base of a large waterfall and enjoying the mist spraying in my face, and the feeling of wellness from being exposed to the negative ions which are released as the water tumbles. Rock Chapel falls is an 8 metre high horsetail ribbon waterfall.
The riverbed was strewn with giant boulders, and dead-fall which made navigation a challenge. My husky Luka had to be lifted over several sections. My two Jack Russell Terriers Merlin and Morgana also needed some assistance.
Looking around, the area was stunningly beautiful. Like nothing most city dwellers ever experience. Giant trees lay across the river, some with root systems still intact. These trees have managed to weave chunks of rock into their complex root systems. Boulders re-route the otherwise straight path of the river and create dozens of small rapids, and waterfalls. Some as large as 2m in height.
There was little evidence of human intervention here. Only a few pieces of scrap metal, and an old bicycle were visible. Nature had removed the rest and swept it somewhere downriver.
The terrain presented quite a challenge. The boulders were tough to negotiate and some were covered in slime which made them very slippery. Going barefoot is the best way to scramble the large, porous rocks. My hiking partner Tori sustained quite a few scrapes and bruises. The Jack Russells also received quite a few bumps, and scrapes.
Two hours of rough, battering terrain led to the base of Rock Chapel falls. The narrow, tree covered gorge expanded out into a rocky area with a large talus pile edging it. There was little sound other than the splattering of water. The water poured effortlessly over the edge of the falls and plummeted the 8 metres to the shallow basin below.
I took some time to relax at the base of the falls and get some photographs. I also ate lunch which consisted of some power bars which I had purchased at Mountain Equipment Co-Op en-route to the falls.
Leaving the basin was easier than expected. A small pathway led up the talus pile to the cliff face. There was a thick, but damaged rope hanging from a tree. The rope led to the plateau of the escarpment, a few metres from the roadside. I helped the dogs up the cliff face, and hoisted myself up with the damaged rope. It was an easy exit.
The pathway from the exit point led to the parking lot where the car awaited. I removed my pack, and headed home. It was a fantastic waterfall to visit.
Remember to keep your dog on a leash. Locals say that Royal Botanical Gardens park wardens will cause a real headache for you if your dog is off leash. They will sometimes ask for your dogs vaccination and registration tags. Failure to have these on your dog can result in confiscation of you pet on the trail.
For a slideshow of the trip, click here