When I was growing up several hours north of here, my Mom often talked about the Hamilton Mountain and in my mind, I pictured snow-capped peaks with maybe a few yodelers, like the Sound of Music. I’m not sure when I clued in that the ‘mountain’ was the Niagara Escarpment but I do recall feeling rather let down that it was, well, pretty small.
Fast forward to my move to Hamilton several years back and my first time driving up Highway #403 from Main Street to Ancaster. I could hardly keep my eyes on the road because of that amazing view up the escarpment and out across the valley to another arm of the escarpment a few miles away. Wow.
Hamilton is blessed with the Niagara Escarpment encircling its eastern, western and southern edges and Lake Ontario on its northern edge. We do not lack for amazing views and over the past three weekends, we have been up to Dundas Peak twice to drink in all the gorgeous fall colours that push the view from wow to WOW!
Our first trip up was on the trail from Webster’s Falls, past Tew’s Falls and out to Dundas Peak. My husband persuaded me that the pictures would be best if we could arrive soon after sunrise. Oh my. I don’t function really well without a coffee first thing but out we went and it was definitely worth the delayed caffeine hit.
We found a few people out there already and we all quietly snapped pictures and took in the view below and beyond. You can almost see Lake Ontario to the left and to the right the valley goes for miles and miles.
Tiny Dundas lies directly below and an early morning mist gave all the buildings and trees the kind of cozy atmosphere often shown in story books.
By contrast this past weekend on Thanksgiving Sunday, the trail up and the peak itself were more crowded. Our kids were home from university and we walked up together by a different route. From the base of the escarpment at Cascades Park, near Sydenham Road, we took in the increasingly great view as we climbed higher and higher.
It was a bit unnerving at the top as people jockeyed for the best angles for pictures. There are no railings and you need to watch where you step.
But probably the most unnerving thing was turning around to find my own kids on the escarpment edge with a good five hundred foot drop just ahead of them!
There are also trails up to the peak from King Street West in Dundas but if you come from Webster’s Falls and Tew’s Falls, the trail is relatively flat so it’s not difficult. However you reach the mountain top the view is spectacular – just don’t expect any yodelers when you get there.