lovely hike in hilton falls

There is nothing like walking in the woods to clear my head. Swimming makes me feel much better, too, but this brain-fry was too big for the Mississauga Y.

I found this very good resource: Toronto Hiking. It has a list of hikes in and around the Toronto area, and a separate list of waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment. There are detailed descriptions of each hike, so you can judge in advance the terrain, degree of difficulty, or whatever features are important to you. Every hike is linked to a road map, a trail map, photos and other info.

Although all the Ontario parks and conservation areas have good websites, I haven't found a good way to judge the appropriateness of any given area until we're there. We're not into climbing, and we have a senior dog to think about, so if we feel like a nice long walk in the woods - as opposed to just getting out in the country - it's nice to be able to plan.

Yesterday we went to Hilton Falls, part of the Conservation Halton system. It's a beautiful area, with several overlapping loops (none very strenuous) and a small waterfall. At the falls there are remnants of an old mill that was constructed around it in the 1840s. It may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad... or not. The park is a big destination for mountain biking and cross-country skiing, too.

I love how the Escarpment forms these little waterfalls all over the area. I never knew about the Escarpment before I moved to Ontario, although I've intersected with it several times before. Most famously, of course, through Niagara Falls. Imagine the little Hilton Falls we saw yesterday is related to the mighty falls of Niagara. But I've apparently encountered the Escarpment at the Genesee River in Western New York State, where it forms waterfalls and gorges, and through the New York State town of Lockport. I knew a series of locks were built there for the Erie Canal - I love my New York State history - but I didn't know they were needed to get the Canal over the Niagara Escarpment.

In general, I'm still amazed at how quickly you can reach farmland in this area, how the sprawl ends like a knife edge and "the country" begins. In the New York metro area, you have to drive much greater distances to find the country (although there are pockets of country within the city and suburbs, same as the Greater Toronto Area). Here, you can practically see the sprawl pushing at the farmland in place like Oakville, Milton and other towns.

Hilton Falls is really very nearby, which is nice when you have a barking, spinning dog in your car. Tala barked the entire way there, walked around 10 kilometers, barked most of the way back, then wanted me to throw her ball in the backyard.

Allan and I are much more like Cody. She's content to relax in the car, go for a walk, then return to relaxing.

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