Waterfalls are one of my favorite geological features. Hiking Tews Falls and Dundas Peak in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area gave me the opportunity to enjoy a frozen waterfall and a sweet view from the lookout. What more can you ask for in a quick day hike?
Planning the Hike
We lucked-out by visiting the park in the winter (March). We were able to park easily at Tews Falls off of Harvest Road. The machine to pay the $10 parking fee wasn’t functioning, nor was there a box that you could drop cash into. Shrug.
Our experience is not typical. Parking is at least $10 at Tews Falls and it seems there is a station for an attendant. Parking is very, very limited. Maybe 15 cars can fit into the lot. During warmer months, visitors must often park miles away at Christie Lake and take a shuttle. Though Tews Falls and Dundas Peak both permit dogs on the trails, the shuttle from Christie Lake will not accept pets.
During winter, there are no restrooms though others have taken pictures of port-o-potties during warmer seasons months.
Tews Falls is a ribbon waterfall about 135 feet (41 meters) high. The first views of the falls are easily accessible from the parking lot. It’s less than a quarter of a mile walk on level terrain.
Tew Falls is lovely, particularly in winter! The shallow waterfall forms a hollow cylinder of ice at the base.
There are several ways to get to the base of the waterfall. None of them are condoned by the park service. There are several signs saying as much. We saw footprints along the bottom, though, so…there’s that.
Crampons are definitely recommended for most winter hikes in Ontario. The Spencer Gorge conservation area is no exception. The wooden bridges, concrete walkways, and trail up to Dundas Peak ice over. Save yourself the unnecessary exertion or potential fall. Put some low-grade spikes on your shoes and you’ll be just fine.
Dundas Peak trail is a 1.8-mile loop that hugs the edge of the gorge. When the foliage has died back in winter, there are beautiful views of the gorge throughout the hike.
Even when you can’t see the gorge, you can still hear the falls and see ribbons of Spencer Creek below. It’s really relaxing!
The tree canopy provides some protection from the sun during the warmer months. For us, we were grateful the that trees blocked the winter winds! As we climbed higher, the winds got stronger and colder. My husband’s body heat rose from exertion as the temperatures dropped. He started to steam!
From the outlook, you get great views of the town of Dundas and the surrounding gorge. (In the video, I thought it was Hamilton.) I’m not a huge fan of all of the graffiti but if you are, there is plenty of it on the stone divider between the peak and the abyss below.
The gorge walls are also interesting in their own right. There are plenty of dramatic ledges. None of them are blocked off, which is great for preserving the natural beauty of the place.
I basically just like this picture because the shoe spikes look rad. The cliffs aren’t bad, either.
The trail up to the peak is heavily trafficked. You’d have to try to get lost. It’s mostly compact earth and gravel so it’s gentle on the ankles, too. Those factors make the trail easy although AllTrails lists the hike as moderate. That’s likely because of the 20-story elevation gain along the way.
See You Next Time, Webster Falls
There used to be a trail that connects Tew Falls and Webster Falls. That portion of the trail has closed indefinitely, unfortunately. To see both falls, you’d have to leave one park and drive to the other. We’ve heard good things about Webster Falls so if you aren’t pressed for time, make the short drive over.
With 232 feet of elevation gain in about 2 miles, Dundas Peak trail can be a nice workout if you put some speed to it. If you’re not looking for heart-pounding exercise, join the locals who take a nice, casual stroll up to the peak. There was no sense of competition or urgency when we visited. Just people enjoying the beauty around them.
In winter, there are fewer visitors. We shared the trail with fewer than 10 people. The quiet atmosphere gave the hike a meditative vibe that was refreshing yet calming. I imagine that it’s a different experience in the warmer months. Expect to be invigorated by the energy of your fellow hikers.