Looking For The Best Hamilton Waterfalls? Us, Too – Here’s Our Experience!
Did you know that Hamilton, Ontario is considered the “waterfall capital of the world”? Yeah, seriously.
Even without Conde Nast writing about it – there was no question that this urban area with over 100 waterfalls and a dense network of hiking trails was one of Ontario’s most unique places to discover! We can thank the Niagara Escarpment for this.
We really liked our visit to Hamilton. We weren’t necessarily looking for the best waterfalls in Hamilton – just a memorable day exploring.
You might want to explore the waterfalls on a weekend trip. However, we realized that we would basically have to make up our own Hamilton Falls itinerary. So we researched the area, tied our hiking shoes, hopped in the car, and off we went.
From Albion and Buttermilk Falls to the popular Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls, here’s our experience exploring the area.
Whether you are visiting to hike part of the famed Bruce Trail or you’re coming for those waterfalls and views, there’s plenty of natural beauty to be seen.
We also include need-to-know tips for other things to see like Conservation Areas as well as parking fees, locations, and more!
Before we begin: It’s important to note that to have any chance at seeing lots of falls in a single day, you will likely need to drive.
This is because – depending on which waterfalls you want to see – they can be VERY spaced apart. Also, the Greater Hamilton area can get pretty jammed up with traffic depending on the time of day so keep that in mind as you explore.
It’s also important to note that we visited in the early summer. The trails and paths can be very icy in the winter season and there can also be trail closures.
So, if you are visiting in winter take extra care when hiking, and be sure to check ahead for closures to avoid disappointment and/or a nasty accident.
As for sleeping nearby, we stayed at Serenity Ranch Bed and Breakfast in Ancaster (a quick drive to/from Hamilton) and it was amazing!
The place is so peaceful, the breakfast was great, and the host – Shane – is just fantastic. We’d highly recommend a stay if you are in the area (and we paid for this stay ourselves so this is an honest recommendation).
Read More: Ontario’s Best Bed and Breakfasts (Our Favourites)
The first stop on our list on the day we explored the waterfalls was the Devil’s Punchbowl. This is a more popular one located to the east of downtown Hamilton – technically speaking it’s in Stoney Creek.
Legend has it that they used to push cars into the basin “back in the day”… but that’s another generation talking.
We found the parking lot and paid for parking – $5.00 was worth it given the ease to find and the amount of time we spent there.
People say you could park over at the Market and walk over but a) then their parking lot fills up unnecessarily and b) the road/shoulder is kinda dangerous to walk over.
The trail is quite short if you stay at the “top” and gets you close to the edge to see the falls. The upper waterfall is a ribbon waterfall and there’s a lower fall, too – but we didn’t see that one.
The upper basin is massive and it’s one of the best examples of the exposed layers of rock in the area. When we visited the waterfall was only a trickle but we’ve seen photos of heavier flow and it looks amazing.
If you walk a little further away from the parking lot, you will come across a giant cross and a beautiful lookout platform.
The views are lovely – and it’s just a short walk from the waterfall itself. If you park, you’ve got loads of time to go and take in the little park area and the views.
We even found a bench and had time for a quick snack in this area because it was very tranquil!
Overall, the Devil’s Punchbowl was neat to see and a good way to start the day.
We heard you can hike to the “bottom” of the basin to see the falls from a lower angle but honestly the trails weren’t well marked when we visited and we weren’t prepared to bushwhack at the first stop of the day.
We could see where people had gone down but we weren’t into it that day. Maybe next time.
Address for Parking Lot: 204 Ridge Rd, Stoney Creek, ON L8J 2W1, Canada
Before driving away, we made a stop at the Punch Bowl Market and Bakery. This classic market is exactly what you’d expect driving by: country baked goods, sweets, old toys and other souvenirs, the works. They even have a greenhouse onsite.
Because we wanted a bit of a snack and they had a MASSIVE selection of baked goods in the bakery section – from butter tarts to bars and more – we had to get something.
We settled on a Chocolate Peanut Butter bar and ate it outside on the picnic table. It was honestly amazing. Definitively stop by for a visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Address: 136 Ridge Rd, Stoney Creek, ON L8J 2W1, Canada
The second stop on this day was to see Felker’s Falls – named after the Conservation Area it is located in. We were a little confused by the map because it looked like this waterfall was located right in the middle of a sub-division.
Spoiler: that’s because it is. Once you arrive at the parking lot you’ll notice that it’s a little green park with a playground and that parking is free. YAY!
We walked into the forest following the signs and quickly came upon the waterfall. It wasn’t far from the car which made it an easy one to spot.
Honestly, the flow was good and we basically had the place to ourselves so we really liked this stop. We even saw a blue jay super up close and that was neat.
The trails in the area are really nice (and wheelchair accessible) and so we walked the long way back to the car.
At one point, you get views from the top of the Escarpment which are always lovely. It’s a small green space but it’s worth the stop we think. You can learn more about visiting the conservation area on the Conservation Hamilton website here.
Address for Parking Lot/Entrance: 43 Ackland St, Hamilton, ON L8J 1J4, Canada
Albion Falls and Buttermilk Falls
Continuing to head west, we had to make a stop for one of the most popular waterfalls in the whole area: Albion Falls. Honestly, it did not disappoint.
This massive waterfall (seen from a distance if you park where we did) is made up of many little “steps” and layers so the water cascades down and down into the pool below.
Once we arrived at the large parking lot, we realized parking was free again and that this one was definitely more known for the visitors.
From the small trail, you get great shots of the falls. There are other ways to approach it (and to get closer) but this is what we did. They have a little wooden viewing platform where you can also get great photos.
Once you’re done looking at Albion, you can hike the trails (they are marked) to Buttermilk Falls. This plunge waterfall took about 15/20 minutes to hike to.
The trails on the way are good BUT they have very steep edges so be careful if you have kids with you.
The flow that day wasn’t great but we snapped a photo and enjoyed it. We’ve seen photos of Buttermilk in the winter with ice climbers and it looks magical so we definitely want to try that out given the chance!
Overall, two waterfalls from one parking spot and a nice little hike in between. We really liked this stop and would recommend it.
Address for Albion Parking Lot 750 Mountain Brow Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8W 1R6, Canada
We carried on west (we’re up on the Escarpment, for those keeping track) to go and see Chedoke Falls.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t planned that well because we didn’t realize you couldn’t see Chedoke Falls because it’s off Scenic Drive (the road).
Instead, you need to pull off into Balfour Park or come at it from the Bruce Trail to the north and follow the water in the reserve direction of the flow.
Either way, we drove by and caught a tiny glimpse of this ribbon waterfall but nothing enough for a photo.
That said, it’s a very popular ribbon waterfall worth seeing if you are keen. You can learn more about visiting on the City of Waterfalls website here.
Address for Balfour Park (close by): 406 Scenic Dr, Hamilton, ON L9C 4W7, Canada
Lower Cliffview Falls
Just down the road close to Chedoke Falls was another waterfall we set our to see: Cliffview Falls.
After realizing (once again) that it would be hard to see this one from the road area, we parked in Cliffview Park. This was free to park and a great idea because we ended up having a short break here.
This park sits above the Chedoke Civic Golf Course and you can get to the bottom to see the falls via the Chedoke Stairs.
This giant metallic staircase (seen below) was really long but a great bout of exercise. In fact, there were numerous people just jogging the stairs for what looked like their workout.
Once at the bottom, you can see the golf course easily. We turned left and went down the trail for about 20 seconds until we came upon a fenced-off area.
This is what we could see through the fence. Apparently, this is a lower section of Cliffview Falls. The upper portion of the waterfall (what we were aiming for) is supposed to be much nicer.
The actual Cliffview is a terraced ribbon cascade waterfall, for those keeping track – and we’ll have to come back and go off-trail to see it!
So, we went the stairs back to the park at the top and headed for the car. Not a complete loss, though – there is a water bottle filling fountain at the bottom of the stairs which was SO handy!
Address for Cliffview Park: 26 Upper Paradise Rd, Hamilton, ON L9C 5B5, Canada
Deciding the day was growing long, we decided to just head for another one of the most popular waterfalls in the entire area: Tiffany Falls.
We once again headed west (for what would be the final time) and it was a bit of a drive from the last few waterfall locations. Located in Tiffany Falls Conservation Area, the entrance to the parking lot comes up fast as you drive up or down Wilson Street East.
We paid for parking at this one – $5.00 again – and headed into the woods for the main sight. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow.
It only takes about 10 minutes to reach the cascade falls but you can tell why the area is so popular. The layout of the forest, the lighting, and the winding creek are very picturesque and peaceful.
At the end of that trail, you come upon Tiffany Falls (named after the area’s first doctor) to be viewed from a wooden platform with some information on it.
To be honest, there are signs that ask you to stay on the trail but people straight-up don’t care and basically walk under the falls (usually just to get the perfect photo). It kind of ruins the atmosphere but to each their own.
Address for Tiffany Falls Conservation Area: 900 Wilson St E, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K5, Canada
That concludes the actual day that we did moving from east to west. There were more we wanted to see (up in Dundas, which we will get to below) but it can be really hard to gauge the distances between locations. We were also getting too tired and had already had a great day.
So, having said that – there are a number of other waterfalls (dozens more, actually) that you can check out. Here is a little more detail about what we had planned and where you can find them.
Washboard Falls/Shaver Falls/Sherman Falls
If you stay in the Tiffany Falls Conservation Area, you can access Shaver Falls via the Bruce Trail (which you can hop on near the Tiffany parking lot).
Washboard is apparently very pretty but hard to access without going on private property.
The legal way to go has you climbing up a legitimately dangerous hill which is only for hikers with climbing/hiking gear so maybe think twice about that one.
Sherman Falls is a more accessible fall that is a terraced curtain waterfall. You can get to it by hiking a small portion of the Bruce Trail – it’s a short drive from Tiffany’s parking lot but you could hike there in about 20 minutes if you wanted to stay parked.
The other major area to head for is up in Dundas. This is technically a separate town from Hamilton but it’s still very much connected to the idea of Hamilton.
Enough so that people from there say they are from Hamilton and then when people ask where exactly they say “Dundas”. Kind of like Waterdown. Right, people from Waterdown?
Anyways, to the north of downtown Hamilton is Dundas/Greensville with a number of waterfalls, conservation areas, and hiking trails that you can explore.
One of the top attractions is Dundas Peak – a stunning cliff-side lookout in the area. We actually haven’t been but search the photos and you’ll quickly see why it’s such a stunning spot to see – especially in the autumn.
Webster Falls/Tews Falls
If you are in the area for Dundas Peak, you will be in Spencer Gorge Conservation Area – where you can also hike to both Webster Falls and Tews. You have to pay to park at/enter Spencer Gorge but it’s apparently very worth it.
Tews is the tallest waterfall in the region with a size comparable to Niagara Falls! Webster has this famous tier shape and a super-wide crest. It’s also got some local folklore about it which is really fascinating!
It’s important to know that there is no walking trail between the two waterfalls – only to each one separately from where you park.
Tews and Dundas Peak are accessed from the parking lot at Harvest Road and you take in the Tews Falls Lookout Trail into the area.
Webster is accessed from Fallsview Road but it gets popular in the summer so just aim to park at the Tews lot anyway.
And there you have it – a rundown of our day exploring some of the Hamilton waterfalls! In the end, we only got to see a handful but we had such a great day hiking and driving around to see the ones that we did.
We plan on exploring a few more times so we will add to this post as we go. If there are any “hidden gems” that you know about, get in touch because we’d love to go see them!
As always, Keep Exploring, eh?
If you’re looking to explore more of Hamilton (or the surrounding area), check out these other helpful posts:
- One Day in Hamilton (coming soon!)
- Great Day Trips from Toronto