FALLS RESERVE CONSERVATION AREA
With the long weekend approaching, Sydney and I thought it was a great opportunity to once again Step into Nature and explore what other areas of Ontario have to offer. We set our sights on the Falls Reserve Conservation Area in the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority watershed. The series of low waterfalls created by the river carving its way through the rock was what caught our attention. Neither of us had ever swam in waterfalls and we were excited for a new and unique experience. So we gathered up our swimming and hiking gear (meaning our crocs), packed a lunch, and headed to Goderich.
Our day started out with some pointers from the friendly gate staff at the Conservation Area. Their knowledge and expertise of the area was very helpful when deciding on which hiking trails to take. As we drove to the parking area we were astounded by all the accommodating facilities for the campers and many recreation facilities such as a baseball diamond, volleyball court, horseshoe court and even swings and play parks. Setting out along the Maitland trail, we chose to make things a little more interesting by taking the Hiking Trail Loop. The loop was quite steep but extremely enjoyable to hike up. It wasn’t too difficult but it was definitely a more challenging route. The clearly marked trails were easy to follow and made for a smooth hike. With the help of our trusted trail map and the signs, arrows, and tree markers making our way through the trails was a breeze! While hiking through the forest we often heard the song of the cicadas. Their unmistakable pitch rang between the tall trees. It was incredible, I had forgotten how loud they were and it almost felt as if their sound was amplified and echoed within the dome of trees. Another creature we came across often were what appeared to be very tiny American Toads hopping along the trails. They were adorable and we had to keep a keen eye to make sure we didn’t step on one of those cute little guys.
The hiking trails were beautiful and the only obstacle we encountered could be solved by our fellow Ontarian hikers. Sydney and I concluded that everyone needs to Step into Nature a little more often. We came to this conclusion because of the abundant amount of spider webs crossing the trails that we were constantly caught up in. By the end of the hike we were ‘Spiderwomen’, covered head to toe in webs (or at least it felt that way!), but on the bright side we had cleared the path for the next hikers. Our journey had led us back to the parking area which was close to a lot of picnic tables and even a large picnic shelter that could be reserved by large groups. We settled in and enjoyed a peaceful picnic.
After we ate, we thought it was time we cool off with a swim in the falls. The falls were even more intricate and unique then I had originally thought. There were a variety of water levels and the river was flowing at different speeds. Some areas were completely dry with the water resting calmly a few inches below the surface of the rock, and others dropped down deep with a strong current running and falling throughout. As we explored the falls we felt as if we were kids again playing the ‘hot lava’ game. For those of you who didn’t play this game, it was one we used to play with the furniture in the room and scattered couch cushions on the floor. We would imagine the floor was made of hot lava and if you touched it you were out. You would have to jump and leap from object to object attempting not to touch the ‘hot lava’. Well this was like a childhood dream come true, the ‘hot lava’ game was as real as it could ever get while still being safe. We leapt from place to place trying to avoid touching the ‘hot lava’, or in this case the running water. We really did become Spiderwomen earlier in the day on the trails and we used our new ‘super spider powers’ to leap all around the falls.
We explored the many different levels of the falls, and played in the still water as well as the areas where the current was flowing strong. There were many families and couples visiting the falls and there seemed to be something that appealed to everyone’s interests. Young kids swam with life jackets, older kids travelled about the same way Sydney and I were, and others just calmly sat and enjoyed the breath taking view the falls offered. We finally thought it was time to get our hair wet and we took the plunge into the falls. We joined with another group of young girls swimming around. We even explored behind the low falls’ current of flowing water. It was quite the spectacular experience!
There is so much the Falls Reserve Conservation Area has to offer whether you’re camping or just visiting for the day. There’s nothing better than cooling off after hiking and exploring nature by swimming in the unique beauty of the low waterfalls.
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.