HILTON FALLS CONSERVATION AREA
Since it is now half way through our university summer vacation, my friend Stephanie and I thought it was the perfect time to have a change of scenery from the desk at work and the backyard pool to something a little more in touch with nature. Neither of us had visited a conservation area since our elementary school field trips so we decided to take a look at them. I was amazed by how many different conservation areas Ontario has to offer and how ecologically diverse each of these areas are. One area whose natural beauty and available hiking and cycling activities that stood out to me was the Hilton Falls Conservation Area located in Conservation Halton’s watershed. We were sold!
Before we left I checked the hourly weather report for the area, and it wasn’t predicting rain until late afternoon. We thought this was perfect, so we hopped in the Prius and off we went! But weather can be quite unpredictable and change its mind at any time. Little did we know that was just the case on this particular day.
When we arrived, we took a map of the area that would help guide us through the day. We decided to start our adventure by walking the Hilton Falls Trail. The 4km trail would take us right to the falls where there was a fire pit and picnic facilities providing a perfect opportunity to stop and enjoy our lunch. As we started out the sun was shining and the forest was so beautiful! The tree’s height surrounded us and we felt like we were in a protective bubble of wildlife and nature. The forested landscape sparked our inner child and made us imagine we were Katniss from The Hunger Games books. We truly felt like kids again.
Along the way, a father and his four young children biked past. The trail was wide enough for all of us to fit comfortably and the terrain wasn’t too tough. We also noticed many other biking paths that were much narrower and ranged from intermediate to advance throughout our hike. The Hilton Falls Conservation Area is a great place for all cyclists to enjoy.
At around the half way point to the falls, the beautiful sunshine peering through the trees began to vanish and we could feel the wind pick up. Suddenly we could hear the rain against the trees surrounding us. Thankfully they provided us with some cover and we could only feel a few stray drops. It wasn’t until we came to a small clearing that we realized how hard it was raining. “I think we found the falls!” Stephanie said, pointing to the sky as we bolted through a clearing of trees. We both laughed as our hiking pace quickened to a brisk walk and switched to a sprint wherever the trees cleared.
By the time we reached the falls we were absolutely drenched, but as we stood there looking at the view it didn’t matter. The tumbling falls were breathtaking and the sound of the running water mixed with the pitter-pattering of the rain on the leaves was so calming. We talked about how we didn’t understand why people would buy CDs with these exact sounds and pay for professional pictures of these exact sights when you could just go out and experience the real version for yourself.
We decided a picnic wasn’t the best idea at that point and directed our journey back to the car. But as we were reaching the end of the trail we felt the rain come to a stop. We could feel the warmth on our skin and see the rays shining through the spaces between the trees. It looked like our day wasn’t going to be cut short after all. We enjoyed a peaceful picnic outside the visitors centre taking in the allure of the Niagara Escarpment around us. After our lunch we set out on another journey, this time taking on the 3km Red Oak Trail. But once again our journey was interrupted by a torrential downpour and we were forced to head back.
Although our day was cut a little short due to the unruly weather, we still had wonderful time and got to experience the beauty the Conservation Halton’s watershed has to offer. The Hilton Falls Conservation Area is definitely somewhere I would love to visit again with...or even without the sunshine.
Kaitlyn MacEachern is a summer student at Conservation Ontario going into her second year of studies at Dalhousie University in the fall. She is passionate about learning about the environment, leading a healthy active lifestyle, and exploring the great outdoors.