With temperatures dipping below the freezing mark now most nights, the air is definitely cool and refreshing! But it’s not too late to enjoy the fresh autumn colours of the fall leaves as you hike or mountain bike on the trails of Hilton Falls — in fact, it’s perfect! Located in Campbellville, ON, near Milton and close to the 401 Highway, Hilton Falls is only one of seven parks under the Conservation Halton umbrella. There are a myriad of trails to choose from in the parks, most of which are open year round, depending on your activity of choice and level of difficulty you prefer.
This time around, my footpath of choice was, of course, the Hilton Falls Trail. Considered “Moderate”, this trail has much less in the way of roots or craggy rocks in the ground along the path, (compared to trails at its sister park at Crawford Lake), however there are sections that are steep and there is a high multi-flight set of stairs to reach the Hilton Falls themselves.
Along the way to the falls, you are met with the sweet sounds of our bird friends, including Pileated Woodpecker, Warblers, Tanager and more. The diversity in habitats, from deep valleys and high cliffs, marsh, swamp and vast forest area provides homes for a great variety of interior forest birds and other animal species. While on my hike I witnessed numerous squirrels, mostly black and grey, scurrying up and down trees, in and out of burrows, preparing for the ensuing winter. Even more exciting, I managed to catch a quick glimpse of a woodpecker knock-knock-knockin’, doing his thing!
Make sure you wear proper footwear, (closed toe footwear/hiking boots or shoes with non-slip rubber soles or rain boots when muddy), and dress appropriately for the day’s weather, (layers are often best), so all that’s left to do is to enjoy the sights, sounds and breathe in that fresh air. Further along the trail, just before you reach the falls, you may smell the woodsy aroma of a burning bonfire if someone has gotten there before you and already started one. It’s ok, it’s allowed! In fact the park has a shelter across from the designated fire pit where they store the firewood for guests of the park to use while there. Wonderful for a summer campfire lunch or to warm up with during the early spring, autumn or winter. Yes winter! During our Canadian snowy season, Halton Hills trails are great for continued hiking but also perfect for cross-country skiing & snowshoeing when the snow levels are at their best. Remember to bring your drinking water to keep hydrated, snacks and, of course, hot-chocolate or apple cider for those cold and damp snow days! Please remember, what you bring in with you must also leave with you to keep the conservation area clean, beautiful and safe for all human and animal creatures, great and small.
Down the path and through the woods, you will finally come across the stairs that will take you down to view the sight you’ve come to see – the 10m high Hilton Falls! Also in this valley are the ruins, what’s left of what had at one time been three stone mill structures. According to history records, the mills supplied lumber to the Nassagaweya Township. Inspecting the remains of the stone mill walls, we can see that they had been well constructed. Records show that at least 2 of the mills succumbed to fire and the area was completely abandoned by 1967 (Conservation Halton website).
If you look carefully, you will notice in the waterfall and bonfire area, there are some small tree seedlings that are marked with orange ribbons. These seedlings are part of the ever-growing and developing Natural Regeneration Program. So by all means, bend down and take a look, point them out to the children, but be very careful to walk around them. They will be our tall trees to come for future generations!
Although many leaves have already fallen, there are still lots of beautiful and colourful views to see. Picnic tables are currently still out and available if you would like to sit and have an outdoor lunch surrounded by reds, oranges and yellows of Canadian autumn.
Remember, there are 7 parks in total to explore, each with their own unique characteristics and extremely well-kept trails to provide a safe, natural environment for fun activities all year long during all 4 seasons. There are various holiday and seasonal events held during the year at the respective parks so check their site often for a list of current events. Annual park passes are available. If you believe you will frequent the parks often, it’s a worthwhile savings. Most of the Conservation Halton parks have a day-use fee, however, if you pay at one of the seven parks, you can go to another Conservation Halton park on the same day with the same paid day pass. Great deal! So get up, get dressed and get outdoors!
Till next time…Happy Trails!