Posted in: Outdoors

Bruce Trail: Iroquois | Sydenham Lookout to Smokey Hollow Waterfall

The weather is slightly more agreeable with us this weekend. It snowed some more late on Thursday but it seems enough people were out and about yesterday that our trek isn’t quite as exhausting today.

We start out at Sydenham Lookout and make our way east along Sydenham St. The trail cuts across the boulevard and on to the dead end of Romar Dr before we get back in to the forest of Rock Chapel. Part of Royal Botanical Gardens.

Through Rock Chapel, the Bruce Trail is called the Escarpment Trail and rightly so. We have a great view over Hamilton. Or at least we think it would be if it wasn’t so overcast. Or so urban down there.

There’s a building along here with no info. We assume it’s the Rock Chapel but who knows. A few smaller lookout points and then we cross in to Borer’s Falls Conservation Area proper at Sugar Shack Falls lookout point. The Bruce Trail crosses through the parking lot that is currently closed.

Next, the Bruce Trail follows the Rock Chapel Rd. It is questionable through here in the uneven snow piled high by snow plows. And it’s very near to edge. At the bridge we make the right at Borer’s Falls.

The trail skirts a wide open valley next to the gorge of the lower falls. As we follow the escarpment around there is a bench with a nice lookout point.

The trail now comes to some stairs that descend steeply. There is a murder of crows being fed at the house on the hill and it’s very loud with all thier calls from the crow darkened trees. As we go, we pass Ray Lowes side trail and another trail that is unmarked. A bridge helps us over Hopkins Creek and we slowly ascend on to Valley Rd.

Thia brings us on to the Royal Botanicals Gardens Berry Tract. There are more intersecting trails in here to explore on another day. The Bruce Trail leaves shortly heading north across Patterson Rd.

We follow above Patterson Rd. At one point you cross what seems to be a backyard and there’s there’s sign that says no dogs. There are no side trails to detour here so just be mindful and leash your pup here.

The trail continues to follow above Patterson Rd and then makes a sharp right and drops over the side of the escarpment with no obvious blazes. Along here is a weird side trail Old Guelph Rd, which is a switch back to help climb where the main Bruce Trail is super steep that we just came down.

Across the parking at Old Guelph, we use the graffitti tunnel to cross under Highway 6. Stairs on other side bring us up to a wider path but the Bruce Trail splits away from this. We pass by some old stone building and continue west weaving through more forest.

We climb out of the forest area for a second to pass an old quarry site with more trails through it. And now we’re on to Clappison Woods proper.

At this point we technically in Burlington though we’ll still end up in Hamilton at the end. There are lots of intersecting unmarked trails. You can find some more parking at Rockcliffe side trail. And we come to a railroad crossing that still looks active.

More of the Clappison Woods and thier intersecting trails run through here. We pass a creek crossing with a sign that labels it “creek creek” where the first “creek” is rubbed out. Then we exit at the road crossing at Snake Rd.

The Bruce Trail does a little zig zagging around in here and we passed a group of RCers which looked like a lot of fun. Then we descend to cross over Grindstone Creek at a rickety bridge.

Now we follow Grindstone Creek on our last stretch to the car. We leave Burlington and head back in to Hamilton just as we pass Norman Pearson side trail (which is a giant zig zag of switchbacks up a steep hill face that I last climbed in 40 degree weather).

There are a bunch of stairs we climb at this point. More than I recalled from before. There were neverending. Finally we come to Smokey Hollow Waterfall, frozen over, with a bunch of people exploring its base.

The main Bruce Trail continues across the road but we take the Smokey Hollow side trail back to the parking lot.

This lot gets busy but there’s only about 7 legit spots. Everyone else had parking tickets. So if you’re visiting here, come early to make sure you can park legally.

Samsung Health / Google Fit

  • Distance: 12.58km / 13.25km
  • Time: 3:35:29 / 3:57:34
  • Elevation Gain: 465m
  • Pace: 17:06/km / 17:55/km

Next up: St Helena to Limehouse Conservation Area

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