Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Borer’s Falls CA & Rock Chapel Sanctuary

It’s a beautiful sunshine-y day out there which makes it a lot easier to get out of bed to explore. Today I head out to Hamilton to check out Borer’s Falls Conservation Area, and Rock Chapel Sanctuary.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

I parked Sully on Valley Road. There’s a small road side area, for maybe three vehicles if the first two park properly. I did, the guy that pulled in when I was leaving did not.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Trail access is about 20m down the road. You can see the distance in the photo – not far at all. (You can also follow the Bruce Trail on the other side of the street for a different adventure that I’ll be doing sometime in the future).

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

In to the forest we go! Once you descend from road level, you come across this little bridge over the Lower Hopkins Cascade. 

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

There are several water crossing along the Bruce Trail in Borer’s Falls Conservation Area and all of them have sturdy bridges.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Shortly, you’ll come upon a fork in the trail – to the right continues to Borer’s Falls. I went left because I like to cover all the trails and I know if I don’t do it now, I won’t do it on my way back.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

The trail to the left is a side trail called Ray Lowes. It will lead you to York Road, crossing a dog park on your way. You can continue here to the Royal Botanical Gardens and Cootes Paradise – which are more future adventures for me.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

So I turned around and head back to the fork in the trail to continue on to Borer’s Falls. And of course the path is up. I hate up. But what is to b expected when you’re  heading towards a waterfall? You go up!

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Once you’re up the path levels out and it’s fairly easy going. There are a couple more access points along here, though I’m not certain about their parking situations. 

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

And here it is – Borer’s Falls! In case the sun was throwing you off, it’s actually pretty cold out today, as is evidenced in this photo of a half frozen waterfall. 

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

On we go around the falls, and on to the Rock Chapel Rd a bit. This is a short run from the Rock Chapel parking lot, which is the main access the this area. If you are looking to avoid those stairs above, park here.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Straight ahead from the parking lot we come to this lovely lookout with some signage explaining the escarpment.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

The Bruce Trail continues through Rock Chapel along the escarpment, on a wide level path. 

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

I assume this is the “Rock Chapel” but I could be wrong. I was a little distracted here.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Do you see it yet? Look closely at the doorway, behind the twigs.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Apparently I was trespassing and this guy was not letting me through. First instinct is “So fluffy!” but then I remember this is a wild animal and I should probably keep my distance.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

I thought maybe I was in his way for escape, so I backed off. But he followed me. Around the building. So I let him be, and he watched me leave down the trail. I’ve never seen raccoons show such assertion? Maybe there are little ones inside.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

At the end of the Rock Chapel Loop (a hop, skip and a jump from my buddy) there’s a stairwell descending in to the valley. This is the Armstrong Trail and doesn’t appear on any of the maps (except Google). It’s a small loop, and explains some of the different layers of the escarpment as you descend.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

Back up on Rock Chapel Loop, I keep right to avoid ending up in Niagara along the Bruce Trail, and head back to Sully on the other side of Borer’s Falls.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

I do love the long shadows through forests of bare trunks so one more here before we finish up.

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

And here’s that first little bridge we crossed. You can see the guardrail of Valley Road above – my last climb for the day!

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

2hrs 1min

8.66km

307m elevation gain

Hiking Bruce Trail through Borer's Falls Conservation Area and Rock Chapel Sanctuary - Hamilton, Ontario - Merely McCool

About Mia

I'm a weekend warrior, escaping the bustle of Toronto by exploring a new trail in south central Ontario nearly every weekend. Hiking, camping, backpacking, crafting, baking and beer are a few things you'll find here.

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