Friday, 14 October 2011

Enjoying the Fall Colours

I took the opportunity last week to get out and explore the Niagara Escarpment and the views of all the fall colours. I hiked with a group from Escarpment Views Magazine up at the Silver Creek Conservation Area in Georgetown on one warm and sunny afternoon, and spent a little time photographing my pals, the turkey vultures (I’m sure I’ll be talking more about them some other time), up at Mount Nemo Conservation Area in Burlington. It almost doesn’t matter where you go along the Escarpment; there always seem to be excellent views of fall colours and vistas. I find that some of my favourite areas to view fall colours, though, are right here in Hamilton.

The massive Carolinian forest in the Dundas Valley, which includes the Spencer Gorge, provides some of the best colours when the conditions are right. I often hike with either one of my daughters in the Valley. My younger daughter keeps up with me (sometimes it’s the other way around) on the many trails in the DVCA. On a side note, I do also hike with my older daughter, but hiking with her is much different. When I take off to grab a photo or some video, she likes to curl up under a tree and have a nap until I get back. Don’t worry, though. I know she’ll be all right. She’s 27. Sorry Sarah, but it’s too funny not to tell. Aside from the colours, we had great opportunities to see pileated woodpeckers, white-tailed deer, hawks and vultures and all sorts of creatures. One of our best days was a salamander hunt on the Headwaters trail. But I think it was overshadowed by our early morning Thanksgiving hike in the Spencer Gorge

The waterfalls and escarpment features are a big draw in that area, but what struck us most that day was the variety of experiences we had. On the hike from Tews Falls to the Dundas Peak, there were areas of forest that looked like it was spring. The leaves were green and the sun was reflecting down through the mists in the forest even though it was the middle of October. When we came out of the forest at the Peak, we waited for some shadows to pass and watched as the Gorge’s colours were revealed. It’s always a breathtaking sight. Our next experience was walking the trail at the bottom of the Gorge along the Spencer Creek. It was almost surreal with the sound of flowing water, the golden-coloured forest floor, and the walls of the Gorge stretching upwards around you.

So, while there are still some colours left on the trees, try to get out. The sights, the smells, the experiences of hiking at this time of year will be missed in a few weeks when the blahs of winter start to settle in. Feel free to share your stories with us here or on our Social Networks. We’re just getting started with our blog and hope to bring you some interesting perspectives from some guest bloggers about climate change, environmental issues, outdoor education, recreation, water and natural resources and fish and bugs and creatures and all sorts of stuff! Until then, good hiking!

Chris Hamilton
Community Relations Information Officer
Hamilton Conservation Authority

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