Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Planting for Pollinators! Sat. July 22 Urquhart Butterfly Garden

Come learn about ways to plant with pollinators in mind at the beautiful Urquhart Butterfly Garden in Dundas Ontario. Free, and you can linger among the garden and explore the historic Desjardins Canal and the exciting developments underway.

Nice bike or walking route to the garden along the Spencer Creek Trail or the Cootes Drive Multi-Use path. HSR transit stop steps away! (hint: you can leave the car at home!)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Crack Willow

The lower Spencer Creek trail is slightly obstructed by a giant fallen branch at the trails Eastern junction with the Cootes drive path.
The branch is from a creekside Willow, which a long time ago someone referred to as "crack willows" due to their propensity to snap. I'd never set up a picnic lunch or a tent under one, having seen this scenario played out many times over the years.
You can still hike through, cyclists will need to dismount and carry through this blockage until it is removed.
Happy trails, and let's be careful out there!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Season of Trail Closures (paying for climate change)

Heavy rain from storms, in combination with high water levels in Lake Ontario, have made visiting the trails a much-truncated pastime in the city.

Signs posted at entrance to Spring Creek Trail
In the Dundas Valley Conservation area, the Spring Creek Trail is still closed after getting washed out, including footbridges over the creek, in the spring. Other trails in low-lying parts of the valley adjacent to creeks have met similar fates (the new-to-me named Chickadee Way trail, for example, where the bridge over the creek is askew and the trail closed).

Elsewhere, the popular and multi-use paved waterfront trails along Cootes Paradise, Desjardin's Canal, and the Hamilton Bay are closed due to heavy erosion along the shoreline, a double whammy of high water levels on Lake Ontario and damaging storms disrupting the trail for the foreseeable future.

Access stairs to Waterfront Trail closed
Further along, the Wentworth Stairs, a popular fitness climb and pedestrian link between the lower city and "the mountain" is closed for repairs, and not due to open again until November 2017.  (CBC Hamilton article).

(UPDATE: construction schedule changes mean the stairs are open now, but there will be intermittent closures. The construction closure will now occur later in the summer)

There are still plenty of trails to enjoy, but note that if you are planning some hikes, you may be facing some detours along the way.

 If you know other trails in the vicinity that are closed, or if you have any updates, please share in the comments.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trails washed out

Update after flood conditions due to Thursday's heavy rains, Spring Creek and other trail bridges out of commission.


Saturday, April 11, 2015


Ancaster Creek merges with Spencer Creek before flowing under Cootes Drive and into Cootes Paradise marsh. The water is high and flowing fairly fast. Get out and enjoy the Spencer Creek Trail and listen to the red winged blackbirds singing.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Finding your way to happiness

I've been doing this calculation naturally for a long time: The shortest/fastest route? or the little bit out of the way alternative that would take me over footbridges crossing creeks, down the rail trail away from traffic? Utilitarian? or Scenic?

I'll never forget the night I opted for the longer, darker route along the rail trail. It is a bit creepy to go off into the darkness on a trail riding a bicycle with only a small light, but this time I was rewarded with the sight of thousands of tiny floating lights: fireflies! I hadn't seen fireflies in years, and it was absolutely magical to be surrounded by these little sparks of light.

Here's the article where I found the video about happy routes, check it out http://ideas.ted.com/the-shortest-paths-to-happiness-literally/

Feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Will we lose lower Spencer Creek Trail? Is that a bad thing or a trade off for the environment?

An exciting Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) project to realign lower spencer creek into a more natural, meandering channel promises ecological benefits to the floodplain ecology. But will users of the popular Spencer Creek Trail lose out?

The Hamilton Conservation Authority is in early stages of planning, but are hoping to keep some form of trail through natural features. It's too early to say, according to Scott Peck, Director of Watershed Planning and Engineering.

"The preliminary design is to move the trail closer to Cootes Drive, but we are looking at an Environmental Assessment as part of the overall design," says Peck.

Citizens will be consulted about both the natural and recreational aspects of the creek design.

There is no consideration being given to creating a trail to the south of the current creek alignment, due to the sensitive nature of those lands, says Peck, who was just coming from a meeting on the subject.

The lower Spencer Creek Trail is built on the remains of the H&D Rail line which was constructed in the late 19th century. The creek was re-routed from its original meandering channel then, and the resulting straight channel has diminished the creek's function for habitat and seasonal flooding of surrounding land.

The parallel Cootes Drive Multi-Use Trail is a paved, multi-use trail beside Cootes Drive. The realigned creek will be closer to the Cootes path than it is now, as the creek will bend back and forth primarily north of it's current channel, according to preliminary design.

The HCA has some funding in place for the project, and is reviewing the plans before getting public input through an Environmental Assessment.

It's always a balancing act between recreation and nature. I tend toward giving more to nature, and adjusting to a healthier habitat by seeing the value in the trade off. It's not easy, especially since people generally resist change.

Do you use the Spencer Creek Trail? What do you think about the possible changes?

Feel free to share your comments below.