As my way of saying thank you for being a reader of this blog, I am going to share a secret with you. What if I told you that there is a local trail nearby, one that is rich in wildlife, offers stunning escarpment views and one that at most times, is almost devoid of other visitors. Would you be interested?
Rock Chapel Conservation Area on Valley Road in Dundas is an area that is a must to explore. Named after a chapel that was built in this area in 1822, it features numerous vantage points from which to view the rocky escarpment and the talus slope below. Circling hawks and turkey vultures are plentiful here as are many songbirds.
Years ago, I was a regular visitor to this 72 hectare nature sanctuary, often running my Jack Russell Terrier and meeting up with friends for a walk along the Escarpment Trail. Although I hadn’t been back in years, a recent visit left me wondering why. It really is a gem, and the trail, part of the Bruce Trail system, travels through exquisite wooded areas containing a diverse assortment of rare and uncommon plants and birds.
It follows the Niagara Escarpment edge and is part of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
The escarpment area provides habitat for many significant species, including old eastern white cedars which cling precariously to the cragged escarpment wall and the largest single population in Canada of Red Mulberry (a nationally endangered tree species).
A favourite stop for me is Borers Falls, an 18 meter classic fall that is beautiful any time of year.
Walking the escarpment trail, you pass the site of an old sugar bush building and can still see the equipment where maple sap extracted from the area trees was once turned into sweet syrup. A sudden craving for pancakes hits me as I take in this view.
Continuing along, you come to a geological interpretive trail, one that winds down a section of steel stairs towards the valley floor, providing a unique glimpse at the layers of rock that make up the escarpment wall.
There is a large map by the parking lot that provides directions as well as a number of informative panels along the trail that feature specific relevant information. Remember that this trail follows the escarpment edge so care must be taken at all times. Although the trail is reasonably level, proper footwear is recommended and dogs and children should be closely watched at all times.
Get outside and do some hiking here and I am sure that you will enjoy a sense of reverence as you explore this area, the site of a former chapel.
“What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more,
to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks
where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes,
or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that
tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness! “
~ Helen Keller
But let’s just keep this beautiful trail our little secret, okay?