Posted in: Outdoors

Bruce Trail: Niagara | Short Hills Provincial Park to Rockway Conservation Area

Today is our fourth trip along the Bruce Trail. We’re still in the Niagara section, over halfway through now. We hiked from Short Hills Provincial Park to Rockaway Conservation Area.

My tracking app is still being a piece of shit. At the 2km mark, Samsung Health told me I only traveled 0.67km. Um, yeah, no. So I reinstalled Google Fit and tracked on both.

We start on the east side of Short Hills and head south on the Bruce Trail. The paths through here are wide, and with the beautiful weather, extremely muddy.

The path forks at a stream, and the Bruce Trail turns right and follows along the north shore for a bit. Given the name of the park, Short *Hills*, there’s a lot of upside and downs. After a larger downward portion of the trail we come upon our first waterfall of the day: Terrace Falls.

We continue to follow the creek as it meanders through this part of the park forest. Shortly after the falls we pass over the creek. Then we pass over another one.

As this is a provincial park, there are several interesting trails in here. As usual, pay attention to Bruce Tail markers if you want to stay on the Bruce Trail. But if you’re just adventuring enjoy all the loops this park has to offer!

We meet up with the main trail on the west end of the park. This is about 2km in, and where I notice Samsung Health is being a jerk so I turned on Google Fit.

The Bruce Trail takes a right and heads north towards parking lot A. But we don’t go that far, as that’s a side trail. We veer left, up a steep bank.

And then up some more steep hillside. And keep left, up an even steeper bank.

Oh and did I mention it’s VERY muddy? So we’re doubling up these steep banks as we slide down with every step.

Super fun.

We sludge our way around the west end of the park. The trail is wide open here so lots of sun to thaw every bit of saturated mud. Definitely wear sunscreen if you’re heading out this way.

After weaving around this meadow-y hilltop, the trail cuts through the power avenue and comes to a T. The Bruce Trail keeps right and heads down a steep hill.. only to go right back an even steeper, muddier hill across a bridge.

Once we scrambled up that, the trail grew more and more forested. It offered a little shelter that kept the mud slightly more solid. Only slightly. As we made our way through the woods we started to hear running water and came upon our second waterfall of the day: Swayze Falls. This was much more falls-like than the last time I was at Short Hills.

We passed a couple people at the Falls and they look very muddy which gave us some hope for the upcoming portion. It was misguided hope as the Bruce Trail continues to the right, straight in to the mud, and another path goes left towards parking lot B.

There was an older couple trudging the mud ahead of us. They were just looking for the trail to loop back in to the park, which is what will happen if you keep to the right at the next intersection. We go left and exit Short Hills on Effingham Street. A short walk up the road will get you back to dirt.

The trail cuts across the edge of a couple fields and then over a turnstile. If you are sensitive to smells you’ll want to move fast through here. It’s down wind of a horse ranch and smells like manure. It’s a short stretch then over another turnstile and back in to the forest.

This is a revitalized area. According to a sign, a variety of trees were planted in 2001. They’re real big now. Helps to keep the thawed mud to a minimum. Thanks, trees!

This path winds its way up to Pelham Rd. This is the road our ending point is on. And after yet another steep climb, the path heads westward and follows Pelham.

The trail gets much more rocky along here. We’d been spared that for a good chunk of the Niagara section, which is nice on the ankles. And toes.

The moss covered rocks give a nice contrast of colour to the brown of everything else. A short jaunt later we descend, sliding down mud, on to Pelham Road. Here is where we planned to take the 100m up the street to the car. But we were feeling pretty good so we decided to carry on along the trail to the side trail that cuts back to car instead.

To the north in to Rockway Conservation Area we head, down the very steep, thankfully gravel hill. This area is really pretty. If you need a quick outing, I highly recommend Rockway.

Except for the part where the side trail goes straight up. After a long, muddy hike, up sucks. I mean, up sucks any time but especially at the end haha.

It does bring you to a nice view of the third and final falls of the day: Middle Rockway Falls. From here we also spy a bridge which we be along our path on our next outing.

Here’s a few misleading stats from various tracking apps (Samsung Health / Google Fit):

  • Length: 6.34km / 8.53km (Actual: 10.78km)
  • Time: 2:45:19 / 2:12:09
  • Elevation Gain: 198m
  • Average Pace: 26:02/km / 15:30/km

While Google Fit thankfully tracks distance for me, I now remember why I stopped using it on my old Huawei: the mapping is terrible! How do you suck so bad at mapping, Google???

Ugh. So my search for a tracking app continues. If you’ve any recommendations I’m open. Drop them in the comments, please.

Next up: Rockway Conservation Area to Balls Falls Conservation Area.

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